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Marking History in Madrid

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"The Spanish people are ungovernable" - Amadeo I of Spain

Foodie moment

Possibly not a foodie moment for Spain, but waking up tired from a night out, Mark and I craved Asian Food. Off we went to 'Wok to Walk' for a noodle fix... not bad!


Cultural moment

We are staying in the centre of Madrid and one thing that has jumped out at us is the number of police there are around this area! You have to think of it as a preventative measure rather than caused by need, although you do hear about bag snatchings etc being pretty prevelant in the city. So far they are doing their job as everything has run supersmoothly... in fact the biggest danger is being run over by one of the numerous cop cars/vans/bikes that go shooting down the footpath! The one thing the cops do seem to spend a lot of time doing is scaring the guys who set up 'illegal' stalls to sell copy bags, hats and dvds, they are constantly on the lookout for the police and have set up their mats so that one pull of a string and they have bundled their goods up and they are off down the road out of the police's way!

Wow moment

Today we took a 'Sandemans New Madrid' free walking tour. Now I will start by saying it is not technically free because the guides do live off tips but I will also say that they are worth every cent you are willing to give!! Our guide, Sabella, was Madrid born but with great English skills and she was hilarious! The history and facts they cover are all things you want to know, not endless dates and names, but stories about the people she is speaking about which means you actually remember all of it at the end. The tour went for 3 and half hours but even me with my low attention span didn't even notice the time fly by! HIGHLY recommend the tour (particularly Sabella) and it is on in lots of cities worldwide so keep an eye out for 'Sandemans'. Oh and be generous with your tips - we tipped 10 Euro each and it was WELL worth it, but unfortunately we were the highest tippers out of our whole group (and possibly the poorest!).


What we learnt today

We learnt SO incredibly much its going to be hard to include it all but here's some highlights -

There is a statue of one of the kings riding a horse, in Plaza Mayor. It was moved there and suddenly the locals stopped going there. It wasn't because they disliked the king (they disliked all the kings) but it was because the statue was smelly. It wasn't until years later they found out why - the horse statue had an open mouth and was hollow and over the years unfortunate birds had flown in and died :( Kind of gross. Anyway, to fix it they remodeled the horses mouth so it was now closed, and it now has a very strange expression on it!


We learnt a brief overview of Spanish royalty - and it showed the Spanish have not followed any kind of pattern in choosing their royalty. Some were married or born into it (Habsburg's) but eventually that ended with Charles II. Charles was a perfect example of why inbreeding should not occur over generations, as he was not quite all there and incapable of creating an heir or running a country. Unfortunately the Spanish did not realise that his mental and physical disabilities were due to inbreeding and instead thought he was bewitched. Then followed many 'remedies' such as putting dead pigeons on his head, surprisingly that didn't work and to add fuel to their superstitious fire, he died on Halloween evening.

Following the end of the Hasburg line the Spainish started sending their royalty into exhile and choosing foreign leaders to come in and run their country. One of these was an Italian duke, Amadeo of Spain, who had over 20 attempts on his life in the 3 years he ran the country - needless to say he quit the job!

I won't go into the rest now, but we now probably know as much about Spanish history as Australian!

Posted by travellinglise 14:18 Archived in Spain

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You know more about Madrid than I probably do -even after living there for 12 years!

by Babz

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