Friday 8 June 2012: Templo de Debod
Finding your way around a new city for the first time is always interesting. Everything is brand new, but you know in a matter of hours you'll know the area around your chosen digs intimately (including the stunning 12th floor view), and have got your bearings with further afield travels. Especially if you shun public transport and take to pounding the streets int he heat of the day. Perhaps not the most 'easing into things' of starts when you're away in celebration of your father-in-law's 70th birthday having passed a few weeks before, but he's a fit guy, and seemed to revel in the opportunity to escape the greyness of Edinburgh for a few days.
Thing is, he doesn't do any preparatory 'this is what I'd like to do' stuff - we've been here before with a week in Skye that put us off for a few years. He kind of wafts along behind, agreeing to everything you suggest, not wanting to appear to be a burden, not having anything to suggest because he's cast nary a glance at a Wikipedia entry let alone read the guidebook. This in itself wouldn't be a problem, but it does make it difficult to know if he's enjoying himself.
So the walk to the Prado to see some spectacular Bosch (amongst some other good stuff, but the Bosch was the star of the show, and did the exact opposite of failing to impress); then the meander to the Vertical Garden; followed by padding up to the Palacio Real; rounding off with a viewing of the Templo de Debod (a genuine Egyptian temple donated to Spain as thanks for help in saving other monuments) was done with a sort of detached acquiescence that made you ponder just what you could get away with suggesting.
Instead we headed back to the nearby hotel for a freshen up, and to make use of the 'Level' (a sort-of fancy free bar with nibbles in the hotel that we'd paid a wee bit extra for the use of), before heading out for dinner. An Italian (yes, really) near to the Palacio, just off the Plaza de Oriente. The Plaza was buzzing with people strolling in the late sun; bladers displaying their skillz; and young BMXrs trying to be Danny Macaskill (if they knew who he was).
Madrid has that lovely relaxed vibe. A place to hang out till late, restaurants not firing up till 8 or 9 in the evening, and Madrileños making the most of the gloriously pleasant till-the-wee-small-hours climate.
You would have got the Palacio blipped today (either the sunny strolling one, or by night) but it's been blipped a few times before, whereas the Templo only a couple of times, and this also puts George in the frame since he was the reason for the time away....