Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Work Before Play

Last night I had a good night's sleep, and I woke up ready for my first full day in Madrid.  But I had to start the day by taking care of some business.

Tomorrow I take the train from Madrid to Burgos.  I had purchased all of my train tickets from a travel agency ahead of time.  Yesterday I received an urgent e-mail from the travel agency informing me that my train tomorrow morning has been cancelled due to a strike.  So, after breakfast at my favorite place around the corner, my first priority was to go to Chamartin Station to see what the situation was, and to buy a ticket for a later train.  (This apparently is one of those strikes where only certain trains are being affected.)  

Getting to the Chamartin was very easy.  From the metro (subway) station one block from my hotel it was a straight shot to the train station.  Even though it was rush hour, the metro was busy but not packed like sardines.

I first went to the information desk, and the gentleman told that my train was not going to run, and directed me to where I could buy a new ticket.  For purchasing advance tickets, you take a number from a machine, and then when your number comes up you are called to a ticket window.  However, a fellow standing by the machine told me in Spanish that it doesn't start giving numbers until 9:30.  (At that point it was around 9:15.)  Several other foreign tourists came up to use the machine.  The same fellow told them that they had wait until 9:30, but  they did not speak Spanish.  So I went over and explained it to them.  (RENFE should compensate me for my services as an interpreter.  Ha ha!)

When I was called up to the ticket window, the man made a phone call and came back and told me that the train is going to run, and that my ticket is valid.  So we shall see what happens tomorrow.  The train is supposed to leave at 8 AM.  I will get up early and get to the station by 7 AM.  

I took the metro back to my hotel.  It was only a little after 10:00, so I still had plenty of time to do the sightseeing I had planned on doing.  I got on a different metro line and went to Moncloa, a section of the city where the campus of the University of Madrid is located.

When you ascend from the subway station you see the Arch of Victory, a monument commemorating the triumph of dictator Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Nearby is the Museum of the Americas which displays artefacts from Spain's former colonies in the Americas... from both the pre-Hispanic era and the colonial era.

Given the fact that Madrid has several world-class museums, not many foreign tourists visit this museum.  I wouldn't put it on a list of "must see" sights for a first time visitor to Madrid, but it is rather nice museum.  (However, monolinguals will find it less interesting since all of the descriptions are in Spanish.)

The most outstanding exhibit in the museum is a collection of gold objects from the Quimbaya culture of pre-Hispanic Colombia.  These items come from two Quimbaya tombs, and were presented by Colombia as a gift to Spain.  It is one of the largest and most important indigenous treasure troves to be found anywhere in the world.

Next door to the museum is "el Faro de Moncloa" (The Lighthouse of Moncloa).  This 360 foot tall tower provides a 360 degree panorama of Madrid.

In the distance you see the modern skyscrapers of the city's financial district.  The third building from the left is the Foster Tower, the tallest building in Spain.

Looking down at the Arch of Victory and the Gran Via beyond.  The spire in the distance to the left is the Telephone Building which is a block from my hotel.

The University of Madrid campus and barely visible in the distance the Guadarrama Mountains.


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