Posted by: Team McSlade | March 29, 2010

34 Laps down and counting…

Yep, birthday thirty four was spent in Madrid – only an Olympic cycle overdue – as we had plans for the 3-0 to be spent there. I think returning from Canada earlier than we had wanted (I am still filthy with the weak Canadian government and their immigration department not wanting to rubber stamp a family of four from Australia; curse you, Belinda Stronach, you turn-coat harlot – Google it), and being relatively poor stopped that from occurring.

Back to present day accounts of my ‘present day’ and a breakfast of muesli in a glass, an apple, a plain pig’s ear (pastry) and a glass of agua was enjoyed; along with calls on Skype and through mobile telephonics from parentals, siblings and friends. Cheers all for the love and happy birthday tunes (also, this my be the only time, Ben is ‘older’ than me – with Sydney being ten hours ahead of Spain, that overshadows the eleven minutes head start on life I have).

When we left the confines of the hotel a stroll through the park was had. As car parking is at a premium in Madrid, we somehow managed to jag a decent slot near The Ritz, and after wrangling with the ticket machine a slot for two hours was enjoyed. So into the park and was got hustled by Gyppo’s for cash. Now the paperwork spouted about a Hospice for the Deaf, and these girls seemed legit, until the 3 Euros I produced was not readily excepted, asking for a 5 bill minimum and that they had change. Sorry girls, that’s it. As we walked away I got Jo to check her rings were still there, damn, stooged by being honest.
We got to the main pond, saw touristas boating, people wandering, kid’s scooting and carnie’s peddling wares and street artists performing for the crowds. Some were great, most were rubbish. A puppeteer put on a decent show with a couple of sheep dancing, little kids understood and laughed, my Spanish hadn’t covered that vocab thus we were left bemused.

After this wandering and fresh air intake, we hurtled back to the car with three minutes to spare after checking out potential evening eateries for the b’day tapas experience. Next on the list, a trip to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. As aforementioned, parking is a premium in Madrid and Saturday afternoon seems to have top billing. Thus an hour was blasted in trying to find a slot. We found a great park right near the Plaza, great, except for reading the fine print on ‘white line’ parks. That, and seeing the disabled parking sticker in the car behind us. So back in the car and off we go.
Next was a trip down a dead end street, then reversing for 200 metres only to have an idiot woman flag me down to mention a free park. No park there, she was just an idiot.
Finally, we found a ‘green line’ park, generally reserved for residents, but Jo was sure we could park there. Sure, outside of prescribed permissible hours; the ignorance of English speaking/Spanish reading would talk the car out of the impound lot. Still, with no better option, ten pounds of lard and an industrial size shoe horn to jemmy the car into another ‘space’ we set off for the Plaza (with a quick prayer for the good Lord to look over our car).

The Plaza Mayor was bursting with tourists, artists, performers and anyone else who might be interested in the heart of Madrid. A few Calamari boccadillos for only 2.30 Euros each were consumed as we watched the world pass before us. It is here that my rant against some forms of ‘art’ continues.
I hate punching clowns, physically giving them a whack, I hate it; and I am not really fond of mimes either. Why they continually get stuck in imaginary boxes and have to climb out the window for a lack of a correct key for the door is beyond me, but what we were treated to in the Plaza puts these any other poor ‘street’ artists into a higher bracket of rubbish.

Spiderman. That is what we saw. Spiddy, in all his 256 pound glory. It seems Mr Maguire has let himself go, and the results are far from pretty. Now no buildings were scaled, damsels were not rescued from third storey windows, merely the ocular senses were forced to endure a large man in a poorly designed blue and red suit slowly parading in 30 square metres of prime real estate, waiting for people to come and have a photo taken with him. What…? In pure disbelief – and like watching a car crash – we saw no-one come and visit our webbed hero, but we did see him add a few grams of tar to his lungs, who knew the Marlboro man and Spiddy were one in the same. Below you will find a photo of this ‘artistic giant’, just to prove he does exist.

Exit stage left, back to the car (thanks, Chief upstairs) and off to the Prado to visit my little mate, Goya’s Perro Semihundido, and off to tea at a restaurant we heard an American girl pumping up. Not usually one to belief the American’s and their culinary tips, the crowd at the front door did help persuade us that it should be a good choice. No credit cards accepted meant a quick jog for more cash, and a great feed and beer was had. Patata bravas, codfish croquettes, chorizo, fried beef and mussels were enjoyed.

Here’s where the birthday ends, a winner of a day, and next stop home (proxima parada, el hotel) and a kip before las corridas de los toros­ (or in English, the bullfight) on Sunday.

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