Photo of the Week – Street Entertainers at Plaza Mayor

This week’s photo is of street entertainers performing in the Plaza Mayor.

I could only marvel at the feat of strength and concentration being shown.  There were plenty of street entertainers on view in the Plaza Mayor.  Some better than others.

Until the next time, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is one of the most impressive sporting venues that I have visited.  It is a cathedral to the beautiful game celebrating one of the worlds greatest clubs Real Madrid.  The stadium capacity is 85,454.

The stadium is named after former club player, manager and president Santiago Bernabéu Yeste.  It was previously known as the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin until 1955 when it was renamed the Bernabéu.  It was during his time as club president that he is remembered for.  It was the time that Real Madrid became kings of European football by winning the first five European Cups.  In total Real Madrid have been European champions on nine occasions and World club champions on three occasions.  The trophies and replicas are displayed in the club museum.

Real Madrid were considered to be the club of General Franco.  This maybe down to Bernabéu fighting for the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War.  In truth, Franco was no fan of football but used the success of Real Madrid to promote is vision of Spain at a time when the country was ignored by the rest of Europe.

The reason to visit the Bernabéu is to take part in stadium tour.  I was there just after Spain victory in Euro 2012 so the mood was good.

You can only appreciate the stadium when is it empty.  You start the tour by the grandstands and there you can marvel at the stature of it.

Next you enter the museum.  This is where you celebrate the rich history of Real Madrid.  It is a celebration of all the club successes.  Be it the trophies they have won or the individual honours achieved by the players.  Each European success is celebrated individually.  I would have liked to have seen more about the early history though I did enjoy the section which listed all the players who have played for the club.

From the museum you go to the President’s Box.  From there you head to the holy grail, pitchside.  In particular the coaches technical area.  Standing there I had visions of all the players that have trod on the hallowed ground and dreamt of giving orders from the sidelines.

From the pitch I went to the away changing rooms.  Nothing special there, indeed it is a little basic.  Giving your opponents comfort is not part of the equation.  Finally you end up in the press room.  Befitting the size of Real Madrid it is a large room that has room for many journalists.  I imagine that José Mourinho enjoys playing to that crowd.

The stadium tour ends in the club shop which is a celebration to all things Real Madrid, Spain and Adidas.  Lots of Euros change hands at this point.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Photo of the Week – Bust of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyseen-Bornemisza

This week’s photo is bust of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyseen-Bornemisza.  It is situated in the grounds of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

As an industrialist, he made his fortune from steel and armaments.  With his fortune he indulged in his love of art.  He inherited a large collection from his father.  He continued to add more paintings to the collection most of which are displayed in the museum which bears his name.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Prado National Museum

One of the first sights that I was recommended to visit in Madrid was the Prado National Museum.  It is well-known by those who know me that I like to visit a good museum.  I had read that the Prado was home to one of the best art collections in the world.  According to Wikipedia it is the 11th most visited museum in the world.  Holding a Madrid card meant that I did not have to pay an entrance fee and I could enter without having to queue at the ticket office.

The Prado was initially set up as a museum displaying paintings and sculptures.  Over the years other collections have been added.  However, it is most famous for its extensive art collection.  This dates from the 12th century to the 19th century.  The paintings range from Spanish masters such as Velázquez and Goya, to Italian masters such as Raphael and Titian.  There are also paintings from the Flemish masters.  In fact there are paintings displayed from all over Europe.  Sculptures date back to ancient Greece and Rome.

The museum is certainly impressive not only in size but also with the collection it holds.  This comprises of 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings.  The museum itself displays 1,300 works.  There are over 3,00o items that are out on loan to other museums.

The best known work is Las Meninas by Velázquez.  The importance of Velázquez to the Prado cannot be underestimated.  Not only did he bequeath his work Velázquez was also responsible for the collection of Italian masters.

My personal highlights were the collection of art.  I may not know one end of a paintbrush from another but I like to think that I know what constitutes a work of art.  Favourites were ‘The Fall of Man’ by Titian and ‘Third of May’ by Goya.

As a museum I would certainly rank it alongside the National Gallery in London.  There is so much more to see and enjoy.  You can only marvel at the range of paintings.  The beauty is simply breathtaking.  I would recommend that you purchase a audio guide to complement your visit.  Overall, a visit to the Prado is a must when you visit Madrid and I cannot wait to go back again.

Until the next time, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Photo of the Week – Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid

This week’s photo is of the Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid.

Taking in the atmosphere at the Bernabéu

I would not normally include myself in a photo but this is a perfect way to highlight the impressive stature of the stadium.  A full review will follow later.

Until then stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Madrid Card – A Review

While I was in Madrid I purchased a Madrid Card.  It was advertised as ‘the smartest way to visit Madrid.’  I wanted to see if this was true.

There are four versions of the card available.

24 hours costs €39, 48 hours costs €49, 72 hours costs €59 and 120 hours which costs €69.  Further savings can be made if you purchase online.  As I was staying in Madrid for five full days I chose the 120 hours card.

My Madrid Card

What does the Madrid card give you?  You get admission to the following:-

  • Over 50 of the city’s museums and monuments.
  • Guided tour based on the ‘Discover Madrid’ theme.
  • Bernabéu and Atlético de Madrid stadium tour.
  • Las Ventas Bullring tour
  • Discounts on various tourists attractions, shopping, restaurants, nightlife and car hire.

You also get priority access to the following:-

  • Prado Museum
  • The Royal Palace
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • Renia Sofia Museum
  • Wax Museum
  • Bernabéu Stadium Tour
  • Faunia
  • Parque de Attracciónes
  • Zoo Aquarium

This means you avoid the long queues to these popular attractions.

With your card you are given a useful guidebook that details all the attractions and discounts available.

Madrid Card Guide Book

Your card becomes activated once you first use it.  It is also important that you sign your card.

Is the card worth the money?  I have to say that I found it to be excellent value for money.  Just using it to visit the major attractions I found that it had paid for itself in no time.  The discounts on restaurants can be particularly useful for those travelling on a budget.  I recommend the discount for the Hard Rock Cafe.  By showing your card you can have a set three course meal for €20 which I found excellent value.

There is so many discounts on offer that you will have to make a return trip to Madrid to take advantage.  Overall, whatever card you purchase it represent excellent value and makes sense if you are travelling on a budget.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.


Photo of the Week – Real Jardin Botánico de Madrid

This week’s photo is from the Real Jardin Botánico de Madrid.

Situated next to the Prado Museum, the gardens date back to 1755.  The gardens have three outdoor sections and two greenhouses.  There are over 30,000 plants and flowers and over 1,500 trees.  I spent a pleasant Saturday evening in the gardens.  A great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of Madrid.