Greg Eden’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 04 Sep 2014

MapDay 9 Madrid and Bilbao
Had breakfast in hotel and is the smorgasbord that they normally have in the bigger hotels. They have offered us a deal for 12 which is pretty good. Then we walk to Calle Jardines for the start of a 3 hr bike ride around the city and this is very interesting. We have a very good tour guide and there are about 10 on it. One lady has quite a heavy fall early on when the bike slips on oil but she soldiers on. Madrid is really quite a beautiful place with huge parks and many interesting buildings. It would have been good to stay longer. Our guide says there is no racial tension inMadrid. He says one of the benefits of high unemployment (30%) is that it brings people out into the streets and they talk. It does seem a really vibrant and friendly place. I think if I come back to Spain I would be inclined to spend more time in Madrid than Barcelona. We get back to hotel for late checkout at 3 and go to catch flight to Bilbao at 6. Our tour guide Eric is on the same flight. This will be the third tour we have done with him. Our hotel is right in the middle of all the action in the old part of the city and we have bars, restaurants at our doorstep. This is a really vibrant city of about 300,000 people and seems quite affluent, it has the Guggenheim museum and the major shops etc and is in the foothills of the mountains so it is green and the buildings seem more German influence. It certainly is different to the dryness of Madrid which has cloudless sunny days 300 days of the year. Ruth has a steak for the first time on this trip but I opt for paella as usual and it is quite good. Our bottle of Roija Temparanello/Grenache comes out chilled and is quite nice. The Spanish reds are generally very nice.