Our stay at Aranjuez and trips to the surrounding area including Madrid
We had an interesting journey from France, deciding to come through the edge of the Pyrenees rather than via Barcelona. The scenery was well worth it when we could see well, but that wasn’t all the time. The car wasn’t too keen on the ascent, and did a hubble-bubble at one point, which I found rather worrying, but it was OK after that. It was a bit reminiscent of driving the Glenmoor minibus in that the roads seemed very traffic-free until you glanced behind! There were plenty of places to pull in and let them pass.
Stopped two nights on the way down, one of them in a supermarket car park as it was the easiest option. In that town, Calatuyad, the trees had been trained so that they were interlaced, presumably to form a good shade, and they looked as if they were dancing with linked arms. The countryside between the mountains and Aranjuez is very barren and not very interesting to drive through.
Now on a nice site beside the river at Aranjuez. It satisfies the requirements of clean loos and lots of hot water, so we’ve stayed a while. Aranjuez is a lovely town. It was built as the royal family’s summer residence and has a splendid royal palace with lots to see inside, and large arcaded open spaces, lots of parks and fountains, and cobbled streets that shake your bones when cycling. In Spain the municipal buildings are free to EU citizens on Wednesdays (better than B&Q) so there’s a lot to cram in on Wednesdays.
Madrid is easily accessible by train so we have been in 3 times and will go once more (on a Wednesday!) Did the tourist open-top buses to see where everything was. Lots of very grand buildings. Next visit was the fiesta of San Isidro so there was plenty going on. Saw lots of dancing, flamenco and national, on an outdoor stage. Not impressed with the singing, but enjoyed the guitars and castanets. There were many people around the streets dressed in national costume, just out to show themselves off. All the women had shawls, most had a carnation in their hair, and the men had “Andy Capp” black and white check caps. Many of them were in the evening procession. Lots of street entertainment around the Playas, also people doing spontaneous dancing etc. Next day was the big street market, the gardens and a culture trip to the Prado Museum, just looking at the masterpieces as it was too much to take it all the paintings in.
Toledo was another interesting city. It has Christian, Jewish and Islamic influences and you can clearly see all of these. The streets are amazingly difficult to navigate as they all go at different angles. The best thing seemed to be to wander, and expect the unexpected. It was quite colourful, but a lot of the decorations were plastic flowers which was a bit out of keeping with such a tasteful city. It is famous for steel and swords among other things, and there was much evidence of this in the shops, many knives, swords and suits of armour for sale, though I’m not sure who would buy the armour.
Hope this has filled out the pictures a bit for you. It may be a while before this gets updated as we are off on Thursday (22nd), next stop Cordoba.