Wednesday, April 6, 2016



A great, powerful and deeply influential country, that even today, has a huge influence on our lives.

America would have been a dark continent if it had not been for Amerigo Vespucci a great Spanish Explorer. Mrs Shenoy, this is what you taught us so many years ago at Campion. I still remember. Spanish is spoken in large swathes of South America, the Philippines and large parts of the USA. How many Spanish sportsmen do you know – Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Miguel Indurain, Alberto Contador, Seve Ballesteros, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and so many more… Spain has had a big influence on us all.

So Spain it was for us. Madrid for a start and Valencia to follow.

Getting to Madrid was a challenge. We had a very early morning flight to Madrid from London City Airport. HRH The Queen of Kutch has activated all sorts of things on her mobile, by which, basically she can keep tabs on, and control, virtually every living thing anywhere in our lives. Just before we were to leave for the airport, her phone told her that that our flight was cancelled! This was at 6.30 am. Panic, calls to British Airways, calls to travel agent in Mumbai. Finally, we were rebooked on a much later flight from Heathrow. Apparently the French ATC had gone on strike so the entire airspace over France was a no fly zone. We reached Heathrow, further delays. Got onto flight, one doltish passenger did not board. His bags were offloaded. We missed our take off window. Next take off window after 2 hours. Yes two hours! The flight was rerouted, additional fuel loaded and we were off a scant 25 minutes later. We landed late evening. The day was a wash out.

The next morning, refreshed and eager we set out walking. What an absolutely magnificent city. Monumental buildings, broad roads, the typical Latin style of roads with walkways in the centre like the Ramblas in Barcelona. The sun was bright and the temperature a super cool 9C. It was magnificent! The buildings were so utterly beautiful, so well maintained, so clean and bright and gleaming and with such unique beautiful features on the roof – some beautiful, some super creepy, many winged beasts and half man half beast. This was a pleasure to walk. We walked miles, literally miles. This was without doubt the best walking and sightseeing weather we have ever experienced. It was magical.

The next day we once again walked miles, but we then went to the fabulous Prado Museum. This Museum is one of the greats right up there with the Louvre, the Uffizi in Florence, the Vatican Museum. A really great Museum.

A confession. The Royal Palace, great as it may be, was not something we wanted to go into. Without sounding snobbish, we have seen many of these Palace Museums, the now boring cliché of Royal Jewels, Royal Teacups, Royal this and Royal that. Frankly, we could not be bothered.

Madrid was truly an extremely beautiful city. There was a greater language problem in Spain than in most other places. But people are friendly and you can get yourself understood most times.

Oranges – the fruit - are big in Spain. And, consequently so is orange juice. Obviously so are orange trees. In Valencia you see orange trees everywhere, full of fruit. No one cares. There are no kids throwing stones at the fruit to knock them down. Coming back to the point, fresh orange juice is served and drunk at most cafes. They have a large juicer in the restaurant and you ask for a glass of juice. The first glass I had, I was dumbfounded. The fresh juice tasted like what I associate with synthetic juice. The juice tasted `fake’. It was then that I realised how much research and money is spent by the beverage companies in making synthetic orange juice taste like the real Spanish orange juice. Both HRH The Queen of Kutch and me have been drinking a glass of this delightful juice, totally real – though tasting `fake’ – totally hygienic every day at lunch. It’s great.

Anyway, here are a few photos. Enjoy them.

You must visit Madrid.

And now the building tops

And a beautiful modern church, beautifully polished horse hoofs.

And some beautiful flowers

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