A relatively slow start to the day; a leisurely breakfast with great coffee and a plenty of choice of delicious things to eat which meant we ate far too much!
It was a decidedly chilly mornng and we were not really drssed for it, but confident that it would warm up we braved it – mad dog and English girls…!
The Palacio Real is huge; we paused for photos in the gardens and fountains opposite the palace. The contrast of the clear blue sky with the white of the palace and the bright sunshine made photos difficult. The splendour of the palace compares favourably with Versailles; the decorations are beautiful, stunning colours, frescoes and painted ceilings merge seamlessly with the moulded plasterwork of intricate flowers, leaves, cherubs, animals… We were particularly struck by the way the paintings of the people hung their legs over the cornices or lounged in the corners of the ceilings! the use of the plasterwork features and the structure of the building made the paintings three dimensional.
Our favourite room was the Salon Gaspirin with its autumnal tones and relief paintings of plants and branches. the marble of the door frames blended with the browns and greens and the large mirrors reflected the colours and shapes to complete the feeling of being in awood of rich overhanging trees. The insipidness of the pale blue in the next room was all the more accentuated because of the richness of this one and was a real disappointment.
As we emerged into the daylight again and into the courtyard it was clear that despite the blue sky, the sun had not managed to really warm the day up. We hurried into the armoury where I couldn’t help thinking how much Gus would have enjoyed the amazing suits of armour – especially thoxe on horses! fantastic workmanship, the detail was unbelievable. It is difficult to imagine how much weight the horses and the riders had to carry.
We emerged to the back of the palace and an impressive view across Madrid out towards the mountains which were covered with snow. A peacock strutted his stuff along the parapet, posed for photos but refused to display his tail feathers! He is clearly a fixture of the palace and was completely unfazed by all the people trying to get his photo!
Lunch beckoned, despite having eaten a huge breakfast, so we headed towards the Plaza Mayor. We were in no hurry so we browsed the shops on the way, poked our noses into little alleyways, happened across a great little market where we got churros y chocolate,and had a wander around La Plaza de la Villa which is a delightful little square. I love the lightness of the colour of the stone buildings and we particularly lied the street signs on the buildings which are very pretty. Tapas and wine kept us busy in the Plaza Mayor once we found a sunny spot and we were surprised to suddenly realise that it was after 5pm and we still hadn’t really expored the shops!
In the next two hours we managed a rapid tour of the shops – well, a prolonged browse in El Corte Ingles and more specifically the bag section where I bought a new, bigger suitcase! Then followed a mad dash to the theatre to buy tickets for the Flamenco Ballet, back to the hotel (via an extended non-intentional route!) quick change and then back to the theatre!
It was well worth it! What a performance. We loved the dresses, but the dancing was out if this world. The passion, the colours, the vibrance, the costumes, the skill of the dancers, the shapes they made as they moved together and whirled around were fantastic! The highlight though was the lead male dancer who mesmerised us with his dancing. His legs must have burned as he tapped his feet staccato like, up and down, to and fro – an intricate pattern like drum beats. we were tired and nit vey hungry so we went back to the hotel for a copa rather than hit Madrid ( must be geting old!) but ended up sitting up late into the night chatting and eating tapas.