El Escorial & Madrid
Next morning we rode our bus for an hour south to visit Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El
Escorial.   Our local guide Rosanna gave us the tour of this giant, gloomy grey-black
building.  The 16th century building was conceived by Philip II to serve as a grand
mausoleum for Spain's royal family, as a palace and as a school to promote the Catholic
faith.  After viewing Philop II's humble bedroom, we walked down to the Royal Pantheon
which keeps decomposed bodies of four centuries' worth of Spanish monarchy beginning
with Charles V.  At 3,500 feet elevation, Rosanna told us how cold and miserable their
winter is -- even without Inquisition ghosts.  Our tour ended with the visit to their immense
library.
Then we got on our bus and headed south toward Madrid.  I was so glad that Robert
modified our schedule so that we could visit the
Prado Museum that afternoon,
because it was closed the next day.  I enjoyed seeing paintings by Goya, Velázquez,
Rubens and El Greco.  Sorry, again, no photos were allowed.
I liked our hotel in Madrid, because they gave our
group free Internet access.  We had another group
dinner.  Since Segovia, I was now known as the "pig
lady" and some people suggested that I cut my
salmon steak with a plate also, but don't break the
plate!
Next morning Robert introduced us a new member who
would be joining our morning tour with the local guide
Mauricio.  It turned out to be a stuffed bear named
Ursula.  By the way, Madrid's symbol is a bear, and
Robert always used the city's statute of the bear as a
meeting place in Madrid, but one day the statute was
being relocated and gone.  Because of this incidence,
the tour group apparently gave him the little bear as
his travel companion.  Lucky bear!
After the walking tour, I visited the Royal Palace
with Lois and Joe.  After Versailles & Schonbrunn,
this palace is Europe's third-greatest palace, and
now I've visited them all in that order!  The Palace
still functions as a royal palace, and it was used for
Juan Carlos' wedding.  It must have been quite a
sight.  Then we stopped for lunch near San Miguel
Market.  We managed to finish our Paella in the
light rain with mild wind.  After that we had to try
Madrid's churros con chocolate at Chocolateria
San Gines.  We dunked our churros into the
chocolate pudding.  To burn off the extra calories,
we visited the
Reina Sofia Art Museum to see
paintings by Picasso and Dalí.  Picasso's
"
Guerinca" was most impressive, depicting the
horror of modern war in a modern style.
In the evening, I joined a small group to try
"tapas" bar hopping with Robert.   I could
never experience this on my own.  Robert
knew where to go and what to order.  After
hitting five bars, we were ready to quit; so
the last stop was at the liquer bar.  Because
I was taking ibuprofen for my leg pain, I
ordered water at first; then I tried sangria,
wine, liquer, oh boy, did I sleep well that
night!  I got over my jet lag.
El Escorial & Madrid
September 19th - 21st
Pricy Jamon Iberico
Tasty Green Peppers