My photos will give you a peek into the variety of exciting places I’ve been to recently. It has been a most unusual time.
Over the course of 7 days I got in or on 2 planes, 4 underground trains, 4 taxis and countless lifts. Anyone who knows me well or has read my post about my attempted trip to the USA, will know that I find travelling challenging to say the least!
But, this time I was heading to Spain for my grandson’s christening. And, with a trusted friend for company, I made it.
We breakfasted in London, spent 3 nights in a gorgeous apartment in the beautiful town of Tres Cantos, attended the Christening in the ancient town of Manzanares el Real, and celebrated with a wonderful family lunch in Madrid.
We managed to do a bit of sight-seeing in each of these very different places, then returned to London and reality.
Tres Cantos is a beautiful ‘new town’, which has been really well planned. The wonderful weather and seemingly perpetual blue sky helps of course. But everywhere was spotless with parks, fountains, and lots of pedestrianised areas. It has the advantage of being close enough to Madrid for commuting too.
Central Madrid, or the small area that we saw, is exquisite. The impressive white buildings gleam in the sunshine and the roads seemed incredibly wide. Here too we found beautiful tree-lined pavements with water features, fountains and statues. Since we were in the city, coincidentally, during the demonstrations in support of a unified Spain, there were Spanish flags flying from many buildings. We were told that one of the flags is the biggest in the world!
We were very impressed to see a huge banner across the front of the Palacio de Communicaciones, which has got to be the most impressive ‘Post Office’ in the world. The banner reads, “Refugees Welcome”.
A little further on and we saw the National Museum of Prado. For almost 200 years this world-famous art gallery has given visitors the opportunity to see the best of the best in painting and sculpture. I would love to go back to spend whole days in there.
So, we relaxed in Tres Cantos, were blown away by the culture of the city of Madrid and its people; but what of Manzanares el Real? Well, 20 plus years ago I visited Yellowstone National Park in America and literally could not believe my eyes. The geology of that place seemed totally other-worldly with its extraordinary geysers, hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, and bubbling rivers. The wildlife too was totally alien to me. I saw bears, bison, moose, elk, antelope, marmots, chipmunks, and even a mountain lion! So I didn’t expect this relatively small and ancient town to surprise me as much as it did. It is truly unusual and spectacularly scenic. I believe the name means ‘Royal Apple Orchard’, and it gives its name to the River Manzanares which flows from the Sierra de Guadarrama, on through Madrid. The ‘royal’ bit comes from the fabulous restored castle which we visited.
The town is set at the foot of a spectacular mountain range called La Pedriza. The whole area is dotted with huge granite boulders which are unusually rounded and smoothed. They are everywhere to the extent that the houses in the area that I visited are just plonked on, in, or around the boulders. This makes for very unusual gardens, and brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘man-cave’, as there really are caves in some of the gardens! The whole area is a dream for rock climbers and nature lovers. There are also spectacular views of the huge Santillana reservoir, which attracts large colonies of water birds as well as birds of prey. Higher up among the boulders; I was informed by my son who runs there daily with his dogs; there are red deer, wild cats, wild boar and wolves.
And he wonders why I worry!
Photos from Madrid
Photos from Manzanares el Real