Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Upon arrival at our Madrid hotel we stuck to our usual routine. Drop bags in our rooms, meet in the hotel lobby and head out to find food. Once that was accomplished, with thanks to Nick Ferg who having been before lead us expertly to a small bar around the corner for some lovely tapas, it was back to the hotel to try out the bar across the road. As you can see we were rewarded with buckets of gin and tonic! 

The following day was a day off for the actors and stage management and I set out alone (losing people to the get in and gin induced lie-ins!) to explore. I walked to the tube station and spotted our poster outside the theatre which was conveniently located right by Canal station.

Monument celebrating DonQuioxe author Miguel de Cervantes in Plaza de Espana

I hopped off the tube at Noviciado and walked in the general direction of the Royal Palace, passing through Plaza de Espana en route.

The gardens of the Royal Palace - Palacio Real.

As it was such a beautiful day I decided to forgo a visit inside the Royal Palace opting instead for the Catedral de la Alumudena as you can go up to the dome where a walkway gives you a 360 view of the Madrid skyline.

There were some amazing statues around the dome, all looking out over the city. The outside of the cathedral is Neo-classical to harmonise with the Royal Palace but inside it is Gothic in style with brightly painted ceilings.

The cathedral itself was finished in the 1980's and opened in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. These bronze doors were installed in 2000 and depict the people of Madrid at the bottom and religious figures at the top.

I then met up with Laura outside the opera and we headed the short distance to Plaza Mayor for a spot of lunch.

The statue of Felipe III in Plaza Mayor where (according to my guide book) Madrid locals meet 'under the horses balls'!

After lunch, and now joined by Janine too, we walked along Calle de Atocha to Parque del Retiro.

We spent a good while lying on the grass reading our books before we moved to the steps of the monument to Alfonso XII (below) which over looked the boating lake.

Rowing boats can be hired for use on the lake and we sat and happily watched a good number of hapless American students rowing their boats backwards around the lake. Protip - the pointy end is the front!

Then it was a slow walk to the tube and back to the hotel. That evening Bridget, Laura and I went to the La Latina area which has lots of bars and restaurants, We had a lovely meal of tapas in Casa Lucas - another guidebook recommendation.

For the next two days we were all busy at the theatre teching and opening our two shows. We did manage to fit in a post show company meal at a lovely restaurant overlooking the the Royal Palace.

On our next daytime off I walked from the hotel into central Madrid. By the time I had neared Opera text messages had been flying and I met up with Bridget and Tom. We headed once again for the La Latina area to find a restaurant for lunch where we were joined by Laura and Pete. After another selection of yummy tapas (I really love tapas so this is no hardship for me!) we made our way to Casa Hernanz just off Plaza Mayor. Bridget had told us about this amazing shop which sells espadrilles. Espadrilles in every imaginable colour and style. I was looking to buy a pair each for my god daughters - in pink naturally! When the boys realised that we would have to wait half an hour for the shop to open - in the queue that was forming outside already - they bailed leaving the three girls to it. But our patience was rewarded when we were eventually, in small groups, allowed into the tiny shop. Mission accomplished the three of us left with out carrier bags of espadrilles(!) allowing a couple of nuns to take our place.

We spotted this unbelievable (in every sense) Spiderman as we walked through Plaza Mayor on our way to the theatre.

The following morning I headed out on my own again, this time towards Principe Pio. I was headed to the Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida to look at the Goya frescoes. Sadly when I arrived the church was closed. 

A statue of Goya which sits across the road from the church where he is interred.

The Teleferico, a cable car joining Parque del Oeste and Casa de Campo. This was as close as I got to those! I then retraced my steps to Principe Pio, and caught the metro further into Madrid. 

Carlos III, Puerta del Sol

I emerged from the tube at Sol and in Puerta del Sol saw the statue of the bear and the strawberry tree which is the symbol of Madrid and can be found on it's coat of arms. Shortly after that the heavens opened and a major downpour started so it was a quick dash back to the tube and to the theatre to dry out before the evening show.

On our final day in Madrid Laura and I had planned a trip to the botanical gardens which form part of the park we had visited on our first day. However, someone at the theatre suggested instead that we went to the Rose Garden as it was currently in bloom. It was fantastic to see and to smell so many roses all blooming together. Thankfully for you I've just included a few of the photos I took.

After the last show and get out the techies went for one last round of tapas in a little place Janine had found between the theatre and the hotel. Tom was very happy as he finally got some pimientos de padron!