I cannot believe how fast two and a half weeks had passed. Here we are – getting ready to go to the airport to take our flight back to Frankfurt.
But there was consolation: Our flight back to Germany was scheduled for 3 pm and we would not need to leave the hotel before 1 pm.
To round up the experience for M. and B., Manfred and I have planned yet another walk – even though a shorter one – in the morning, to a direction where we had only been by Metro on the second day.
After the usual breakfast in the Room Mate Laura and after having re-packed the suitcases, we left the hotel. M. and B. had become quite familiar with the surroundings of the hotel and M. guided us to “Puerta del Sol”.
It was early in the morning – the best time to start a walk in almost any city. You are only amongst the locals rushing to work, a styrofoam cup of to-go coffee or sitting in one of the many breakfast cafés with a café solo and a “bocadillo” in front of them, checking messages on their smart phones or chatting with the people around.
I just love this time of the day! As we stuck out with our short pants and T-shirts from the crowd of urban white collar workers in their suits or office dresses, people looked at us thinking: “What’s this… tourists in the streets at this time of the day… weird”
Only 8:30 am but the city had started to heat up, though it was still pleasant to walk and despite the fact that we had to go back today, we were all in a brilliant mood.
Our plan was to pay “Plaza de Cibeles” a visit – with the Palacio and the Fountain. As a special surprise we’d visit the Palacio inside and climb up to the roof from where you have a breathtaking view across Madrid.
Plaza de Cibeles with its fountain greets all visitors arriving from the airport by taxi – we, as well, had passed by the place on the day of our arrival – however it looked even more beautiful in the morning light.
Named after the goddess “Cybele” the place, its fountain and the palacio are viewed as the most important landmark in Madrid (probably after the Royal Palace).
While Manfred got the entrance at the ticket office (the early bird catches the worm) at the Palacio, M., B. and I strolled towards the “Prado”. Stopping at the Neptune Fountain, yet another gem – with all the prestigeous hotels, the “Ritz” or the “Westin Palace”
Despite the early hour, the place in front of the “Museo del Prado” was swarming with tourists waiting for the ticket offices to open their counters. What a madness – well, the reason for the rush: a high-profile exhibition of the work of Hieronymus Bosch aka “El Bosco”.
If we had walked straight on, we would have arrived at “Atocha” train station – and you recall that B. and I had met M. and Manfred at the day we left Madrid to go on our “Tour de Spain”.
But we wanted the climb the roof of the Palacio de Cibeles (former Palacio de Comunicaciones) and that is why we turned left to pass by The Spanish Royal Academy, walking through streets with up-scale condos – certainly a part of the city where one would like to have a condo, if one could afford it.
We were at the gates of the Palacio de Cibeles right on time when they opened at 10 am. The visitors terrace on floor 7 was scheduled to open half an hour later, time for us to explore the impressive building that used to be the central post office of Madrid and now houses parts of the “Ayuntamiento de Madrid” – the Madrid town hall, but more importantly a variety of impressive art exhibitions.
When you are in Paris, you visit “La Fayette” to see “Le coupole” – in the “Palacio de Cibeles” you get to see something equally beautiful.
Really worth a visit – but as I had menitoned earlier – the early bird certainly gets ahead of the masses of visitors and gets to see this without the fuss and the noise of other visitors around.
Still 20 minutes to kill – so why not look around. We found a great photo exhibition on the first floor on the topic of: Equal rights for men and women – quite some impressive artifacts to be seen there.
In another room we found an exhibiton on 3-D printing and I was blown away by the possibilities you seem to have with this technology. WOW. In the old days chairs were made by a cabinet maker – today you “print” one.
Clock stroke 10:30 am so we took the elevator up to the roof top. The administration of the Palacio organizes the visits of the terraces strictly in timed group visits. You miss your slot, you lose. We were the first (of course) and hence had the terrace almost exclusively to ourselves.
When you visit Madrid, this is a must-see/must-do.
Well, time flies when you are having fun, but our plane will not wait for us. Manfred and B. wanted to do some “ham shopping” before leaving – and you cannot go wrong doing that in one of the “Museo del Jamón”. Please, note – the shops, which are part of a food chain have nothing to do with a museum, other than they have great exhibits – with the advantage that you can buy them.
The branches are spread around the city of Madrid, the one we did our shopping in was on our way back to “Puerta del Sol” in Carrera de S. Jerónimo.
The “Museo del Jamón” not only offers a variety of ham to buy and to take home, they also offer food and tapas around ham, and of course “caña” – the beer that our friends had grown fond of.
Getting closer to “Puerta del Sol” – I all of a sudden developed a graving for Churros con Chocolate, and there is no better place for that than at “San Ginés”. Manfred looked at me as if he wanted to say: “Are you serious, do you know what time it is…” – tough call that one.
We decided that Manfred headed back to the hotel to do the last fine tuning on the packing, while B., M. and I indulged in hot chocolate and some churros and a “caña”, to me a worthy end of our trip.
Back in the hotel, everything went like a clock work. We got our suit cases down from the rooms and waited for the pre-ordered taxi to the airport.
Smooth sailing to the airport, I had done the check-in online two days ago. All we needed to do was to drop off our luggage and to wait for boarding.
LATAM flighs from Termial 4 concourse S – which stands for “satellite” which can only be reached by an airport underground train. Depending on the queues at the security check, it can easily take up to half an hours to get from the departure hall of T4 to concourse S.
For all of you who got the impression that all was well planned and (almost) perfect – there was one glitch tough at the end:
I had checked M. and B. in row 17 seats A and C, and Manfred and myself in row 18 seats A and C.
When we boarded our seats were available, the seats in row 17 had already been taken by two elder women coming from Chile, hence the first to board the plane. Fatal knock on: M. and B. stood in the aisle, while I fought my way to the next available flight attendant through the paxes trying to get to they seats, traveller’s nightmare.
Long story short – the elder women would not budge, the flight attendance was helpless (minus point for LATAM here), M. and B. were asked to move to the end to the plane, row 29 would be completely free (false), but on the bright side, they ended up in row 25 which had bulk head seats – some consolation.
Rest of the flight eventless, smooth – ahead of schedule. We touched down on a finally sunny day in Frankfurt, it seemed as if we had imported some summer after all the cold and rain.