Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What to do on a hot summer day in Madrid

The first thing that may occur to anyone on a sunny day with high of 38 degrees and 41% humidity in Madrid is to get a dip in the refreshing waters of a swimming pool.  Madrid has more than twenty public city pools, which may not be the beach but it's the next best thing.   But for me the mere thought of swimming already puts me on the drowning mode.  A lot of  people stay cool inside the house with the air conditioning on, but then it is summer and you will have the rest of the year to be indoors. "In fact, Madrileños describe the city's weather as having nueve meses de invierno y tres meses de infierno (nine months of winter and three months of hell).  Of course, this is an exaggeration, but there is an element of truth to this statement, the winter is very cold and the summer very hot)".A great majority go to malls and big department stores.  El Corte Ingles is one of the most selected area, where they have the best airconditioning system and where they sell absolutely everything: clothing, perfumes, music, groceries, hardware and home decors, name it they have it.  Whether you're in the mood to shop or not, this is an excellent place to stroll through during the hottest part of the day. If you're asked if you need assistance, you just say "Thanks just looking".

Staying in the shade while watching street performers, can be one of the most entertaining things to do for free in Madrid.

Or go window shopping....



To finally buy something like this practical leather bag for Ron.


But today, I chose to go to the Caixa Forum

to see the Philips Collection which is recognized around the world for its rich holding of the finest impressionist, modern and contemporary art including: Picasso, Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Braque...  Luckily, photos are permitted.

Pablo Picasso.  The Blue Room 1901

Pablo Picasso.  Woman with green hat 1939.

Edouard Manet,  Spanish ballet 1862

Edgar Degas.  Dancers at the barre. c 1900

Edgar Degas. Picture of Henri Michel-Lévy’, 1878

Jointly with the Philips Collection, are paintings, sculptures, videos and installations that invite the viewers to be emotionally moved to create their own story from what they see.  The Portuguese Artist is Juliäo Sarmento, the author of this project.

Tony Cragg.  Untitled 1993.

Waste Land by Juan Muñoz  1878

Eating out is also another option that will keep you away the relentless heat from cooking and washing the dishes.  On a regular working day, set lunch menus are cheaper than other hours during the day and you can relax in a cool terrace or in an air conditioned room, depending on your mood.  I decided to have lunch out.

Watching a movie in a Cinema, and be entertained with movies like Now You See Me 2 was also one of my choices for the day.  On Tuesdays, seniors get to see a movie near my place for 3 Euros, a very tempting option.

And while the night was young, dinner was all set to have outside.  Madrid is famous for it's café society and nightlife, which are unparalled by any other European capital.  Rather than spend the late night unable to sleep, why not take advantage of the time to be with friends and make memories. Head to one of the city's many terrazas and have a cold beer or spend the evening dancing at one of the capital's many nightclubs.  But that is too fancy for me, other days I would have asked a friend to join me or accept an invitation to dine out, but not this time, I was only in for a quick hamburger and off for a short walk before I dragged myself home.

Although everyone complains about the high temperatures of the summer months in Madrid, I find myself wishing that it won't end.    Sooner or later, September and the cooler temperatures will return, and although you'll sleep better, you'll find that the pleasures and the fun you had in July and August would then be a dream.  There will be a lot more people to change everything to its normal routine: more traffic, less good service, longer queues, crowded places...

Summer in Madrid is fun filled, come one come all.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Trip to Bournemouth - Part V End of Trip

Although it was not the first time that I have visited Bournemouth, there are always new things to learn.  Being on my own most of the time made me aware of what I would otherwise not have noticed had I been travelling with somebody else.

For instance, bus services run at very limited time and I had to be careful about schedules if I did not want to miss the bus that stops across the hotel.  More importantly is to be careful about changing routes because even the local people do not know how to direct you to where you would want to go. Bus drivers get confused too.  But people do not hesitate to try to help if they could.

Most stores and public offices usually close at 5 pm so I had to organize my time to profit from the opening hours. Mel usually finishes work at 6:30 pm so I had to be ready to meet her by that time. Busses failed me a couple of times due to road construction or repair jobs diverting the traffic and schedules being changed without prior announcement, or because I failed to look at bus schedules.

Charity shops are very popular and people are encouraged to donate or offer their time to attend the shops.  The sales attendants are usually elderly ladies or with some kind of disability.   Some charity shops are better than others depending in what area they are located.

In the stores, they are very trustful, not minding to open your bags, nor having alarms, nor guards by the door and have mainly the cashiers to attend customers but not to follow them around. But that is mainly in Bournemouth, probably not in London, where shoplifters may be rampant. They have beautiful and comfortable shoes at reasonable prices, and jewelry with sterling silver are also relatively good buys.  But  I chose to bring home scones, garlic cream crackers, crumpets, Cadbury chocolate .... what I could not find in Spain.

It was pretty disappointing to have seen several churches converted into convenience grocery store, restaurant and nightclub among many others.  It seems that converting beautiful churches into secular buildings happens in many other countries such as those depicted in the following web page:

In some pubs, you have to approach the counter to place your order (you can choose your table) give the table number, pay,  then when the order is ready, they bring it  to your table. I would take that as avoiding to employ people unnecessarily.

Some restaurants are very keen on their services,  For example, while we were seated at the waiting area, the waiter saw me drinking water and immediately, he came to give me the list of drinks (but then Mel said that I could not drink but water, jejeje...).  Then when we were finally seated, as Mel stood up to go to the washroom, she dropped her napkin on the chair.  Soon enough, our attending waiter came by, got the napkin and folded it nicely before putting it back on the table. It was an Indian restaurant but not even a four fork category.

The bill can sometimes be inserted in a book.

And bill is signed with a "thank you" and "ox" (I love you).  Was somebody flirting here? I wonder...

Public toilets in bus stations can have the three  modules incorporated in one:  soap  (first button), water (second button) air (third button).

Time to say goodbye to Bournemouth:  Our despedida dinner.  Fish and chips for Mel and roast chicken in piri piri sauce for me.

On our way back to hotel to pack:


 Mel packed my stuff in less than 30 minutes, galing ni Mel....

Mel called a taxi for me the following morning and came by the hotel to bid me goodbye.  So sad to leave without Mel.....  I took the same bus,  the National Express Line to go to the airport, a two hour ride but it was okay, I was comfortable.  

I had enough time to move around the airport before the plane left. 

I had a quick lunch in a restaurant...

Everything went smoothly except for a slight delay, but my luggage came one of the first five to appear in the conveyor belt.  Soon I was to meet Ron and have dinner with him near the airport. 

What a difference from the food in UK. 


Here is Mel's dinner on the same night with similar vegetables but over a pie crust, while ours had the goat cheese on top.  Different places different cultures... "C'est la vie" It is the life, or as Chet would say:  "Yan ang buhay"...

Monday, July 04, 2016

Trip to Bournemouth Part IV - Poole

Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. Wikipedia.  Poole is a tourist  resort, attracting visitors with its large natural harbor, history, the Lighthouse arts center and blue flag beaches.

There are many stores, and among them is  Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, a chain retailer that sells retro and modern sweets, chocolate and American candy specially designed to resemble an old fashioned sweet shop.

Mel took me to  a small garden that seems to be a private garden but admits entrance of the public.

In Poole's commercial area...

Old railway with bridge

A former church converted into a restaurant.

The Lord Wimborne pub that used to be Poole's main library. 

 Medieval restaurants...


Purbeck Pottery...

Poole Pottery...

Poole Quay where we coincided with folk festival.  There were various street performances.

Sunseeker, the world's largest privately owned builder of motor yachts and the UK's largest manufacturer, is based in Poole.  Boats include the famous James Bond "Skylark" boats.


Artisan at work by the Quay.

It took us the whole day to visit Poole.  There were lots of things to see.  It was the only day off that Mel could share with me so we took advantage of our limited time to spend a wonderful day together and despite the occasional showers, we had a lovely time.