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Honeymoon, Day 8

April 23rd, 2009

This is the day we decided to go on the open-top bus tour. In retrospect, we should have waited until the last day, but we had no way of knowing what the weather would turn out like.

I should pause here to describe the weather for our trip, as it has been a bit funny. Before we arrived in each of the three cities so far–London, Madrid, and Athens–weather forecasts were all the same: sunny and warm projected before we arrived and after we left, but for the exact times we planned to stay, rainy and col. It was as if the cold and rain were projected to follow us around precisely where we went, vanishing when we were not there. The funny thing is, the rainy weather, for the most part, failed to materialize. In London, a few days had spotty light rain–enough that you spent much of the time wondering if you should use your umbrella or not, and if you did, you usually put it away just a few minutes later. But other than that, every day the forecast would predict showers, and every day the weather would be anything from overcast to sunny (Although temperatures in London and Madrid were chilly). As I said, this happened all throughout London and Madrid and our first full day in Athens. Today, our second full day in Athens, they predicted sunshine–so naturally, it’s overcast. At least here in Athens, it’s nice and warm.

Back to Madrid and the eighth day. We had our usual lazy sleep-in, and before noon walked a fair distance to where these bus tours could pick us up. These buses are ones you will see all over the place in Madrid. I saw them so often, in fact, that I quickly got the impression that they came every 5 minutes or so. So when we got to the stop and saw a bus just leaving, the top looked a little crowded, so we didn’t race to get on it. Big mistake.

Forty minutes later, I was fed up and called the bus service. The pamphlet said to wait 10-20 minutes, and we had waited quite a bit longer than that. The result was predictable, and this always happens like magic: you call up to complain, and the bus arrives just as the operator picks up. Of course, since this bus was so late, the bus was jam packed. Sachi and I could not even sit together. My seat had a defective headphone plug, so no commentary, and the guy sitting in front of me was the tallest on the bus, natch. Since the seat was in the back row, the higher rails also blocked my view in all other directions. So much for a pleasant start.


The tour has two routes: Historical/cultural, and Monuments. We went on the historical and cultural first. Eventually, things looked up. As the bus made stops, people would get off and on. Sachi was disinclined to move up as spots became available, but we did at least get a nicer row with functioning headphone jacks. This was nice for a while, until a woman and her daughter got on the bus and sat right in front of us. Again, the worst-luck principle applied: the daughter constantly stood up to take photos (no one else on the bus did), which again blocked my view of most things I wanted to photograph. Eventually, I got fed up and migrated to near the front of the bus. Sachi stayed behind.

Poor Sachi: I was OK with the temperatures, but she was freezing cold. She said that she wanted to move downstairs and I encouraged her, but it turned out that no seats were available. So she braved it out on top. Eventually, we got to Plaza Mayor, and got off the bus for lunch and shopping.



We found a little restaurant which had what we both wanted: seats inside, out of the cold (most seats are outside on the plaza), and not a lot of cigarette smoke (Europeans seem predisposed to smoke, a lot–even Japan is better). Sachi ordered paella, and I got a plate of fried chorizo.

Another aside: I love chorizo. My mother got ahold of some of the authentic stuff when I was a kid and included it in a Spanish stew she made for my father. Since then, I can’t get enough of the stuff. In Japan, they have something called “chorizo,” but it bears absolutely no resemblance to the real thing. The real thing is thick (at least one inch across), dark red with the smoky-hot pimenton spice, and tastes, well, like chorizo. The Japanese stuff is just another bland Japanese sausage, sometimes slightly more spicy than other sausages. (Upon leaving Spain, I bought 9 or 10 chorizo in three different types–hopefully, no customs agents will spoil my trip by confiscating them.) I tended to order chorizo at every opportunity, as I did in Plaza Mayor–and their chorizo was fantastic. (We wound up going back there a few days later for a second helping.)



After Plaza Mayor, we got back on the same line we were on, and then transfered to the Monument Line at the Prado. When we started on that line, the weather had become sunny and warmish, but along the route, the weather turned sour and cold again, and it started to rain. We got off the bus soon after that, walked to Colon Station, and took the line back to Goya and then walked back to the hotel.

One thing I did get a good look at: architecture. You see a lot of buildings with a lot of different styles.














That just about wiped us out. In fact, Sachi was feeling poorly enough that we stayed indoors the whole next day–something which made sense anyway. After all, the honeymoon was about us having a good and comfortable time, not running ourselves weary being tourists.

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  1. matthew
    April 24th, 2009 at 09:35 | #1

    Great photos. Thanks for sharing. i lived in Spain many years ago and your pix bring back a lot of memories.

    BTW you can get real spanish chorizo in Japan. Just visit rakuten online and search for it. I usually order from a company called otokonodaidokoro.

    Have a great trip.

  2. Troy
    April 25th, 2009 at 14:38 | #2

    Great architecture!

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