July 19 — Madrid, Spain. Last Day

This is my last post from Europe until I fly to Portugal in mid-November. Early tomorrow morning I head to the airport for the long journey home. It will be an extra-long trip, because I’ll have to change planes twice, once in Washington DC and again in Chicago.

As always in my blog, if you want to see any of the photos in more detail, click on it to enlarge it. Then use your web browser’s back button to return to the blog.

I left my hotel room this morning to go exploring, and as soon as I turned the corner at the end of the street, I was confronted with a large number of police officers, most of whom were carrying what appeared to be military-style assault rifles. It took me a few moments to figure out what was going on. Then I noticed an empty temporary stage and some protestors carrying signs. Apparently some sort of political speech was going to be held there.

20160719_091320

In the picture above, the red signs are being held by pro-life demonstrators, and the white banner behind them is for the Spanish Workers’ Party. I have no idea what sort of speech was to be held there, and I didn’t hang around to find out. Later, when I returned to my hotel, I walked down a different street to avoid the site. I don’t think it’s wise to be among large crowds of people in these days of terrorism.

Whatever was going to happen, it was apparently important enough for all of the TV networks to cover it. All of the trucks in the picture below plus the car to the right of center had satellite dishes on their roofs, apparently in preparation for a live news broadcast.  I haven’t turned on the TV in my room yet today, so I’ve seen no local newscasts. After I finish this post, it will be TV time, but I intend to watch today’s Tour de France stage, not the news. Oh, wait! Today is a rest day. The exciting stage will take place tomorrow while I’m on the plane.

20160719_091619

Speaking of police, here is a picture of some of them preparing to be helpful. The word “police” is written on the back of the van in a number of languages including a few whose script I cannot read. Not all police are that helpful, however. This afternoon, I sat on a stone step to rest my ancient legs  for a few moments, only to hear a voice shouting “¡Caballero!” (sir). It took me a few seconds of looking around to figure out where the voice was coming from. Finally I looked up, and there was a police officer standing behind me at the top of the steps leaning over me. “You can’t sit there,” he explained. So, off I went.

20160719_115341

The following building looks fit to be a cathedral, but it’s one of the many churches in Madrid. This one is called The Church of the Geronimos (la Igesia de los Jerónimos). The outside looked very bright as if the church had just been constructed. I assume it was recently sandblasted to remove centuries of grime and restore the stone’s natural color. It was a beautiful sight.

20160719_093853

Right across from the church is the Prado Museum, which is one of the best art museums in the world. I did spend a day inside it on an earlier trip to Madrid. If you’re serious about viewing the many famous works of art inside, you need to dedicate most of a day to the visit.  The following picture is a side view of the museum. There were many tourist buses parked in the surrounding streets and hordes of people heading toward the museum. I suppose it is a must-see on any guided bus tour.20160719_094531Out in the center of a traffic circle a few blocks from the Prado is the Puerta de Acalá. It is an old city gate through which traffic from the east of Spain used to enter the city.  There was constant traffic around the circle, but I tried to snap a picture of it when no trucks were blocking the view. As you can see, that didn’t quite work out as I had planned.

20160719_100507

I didn’t take the time to find out which building the bright tower in the following picture belongs to. I found the view so striking that I had to snap a picture. It looked more spectacular in person than in the photo.

20160719_100326

I am a cyclist, and I’d like to point out that cyclists get much more respect on the street in Madrid than they do in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. You’ll notice in the following picture that the painted signs on the street indicate that cyclists have the right to take over the entire traffic lane. Of course, in Phoenix cyclists have almost the same rights as motorists under the law, but many drivers don’t know or care about cyclists’ right to use the road.

20160719_095220

Well, good-bye from Europe. This is the last post to the blog for a few days at which time I expect this will turn from a travel blog back into a political blog. I’ve been reading about the Republican convention now in progress, and it seems that this year it is even more of a circus than it normally is.

In the meantime, most of the books whose covers images are located in the left sidebar are books that I have written. For more information about any of them, click on the cover image to go to Amazon’s website.