Saturday, January 14, 2023

Getting The Lay Of The Land

When Ed and I went to Paris in 2018, we did one of their Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tours.  The tour uses a double-decker bus and takes you all over the city.  They provide you with a set of ear buds that plugs into the seat back and narrates the tour (in multiple languages) as you travel through the city.  

The thing I liked about this tour in Paris was that we were able to see the entire city and all of the tourist (and non-tourist) hotspots in a way that we never would have been able to on our own in the three days we were there.  We went through neighborhoods that weren't even on our radar, got to see sites we hadn't planned on visiting, and found vantage points for photos we didn't even know existed.  And because you can hop on and hop off at any of the stops, you can get off and explore the area, then get back on when the bus comes through later in the day.  And the views from the top tier of the bus are fantastic!

So, while we were in Madrid, we did one of theirs.  It was very cold and although the bus has an open top roof, when we first got on they had the roof closed.  It wasn't crowded, likely because it's January and there aren't as many tourists that time of year.  And I'd rather it be cold than hot - I couldn't imagine doing this bus tour in the height of summer sitting on the top deck with the sun beating down on my head.  No, thank you.  You can still see everything easily, as the windows on the bus are not only big, but they open, so you can put the window down if you'd rather not take a photo through the glass.
As the day started to warm up a little, they opened the roof.  As you can see, we're in our puffy coats, so it was still cold with the wind and cold air circulating, but I prefer to think of it as "refreshing".  
I take a lot of photos of buildings (or the tops of them, at least), landmarks, people on the street, architectural elements.  And I really like how it gives me a sense of the city and how it's laid out.  Here are a few shots I took from the bus:

This is the Iglesia de la Concepción Real de Calatrava (Church of the Royal Conception of Calatrava), a Catholic Church.  The origins of this convent date back to 1623, when the nuns of the Military Order of Calatrava moved to Madrid from Almonazid de Zorita, a municipality located in the province of Guadalajara, Castile-La Mancha, Spain.  The rose window at the top center depicts the Calatrava Cross, the emblem of the Order of Calatrava.
Thsi is Julia, a 39-foot sculpture by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, located in Plaza de Colón.  Plensa said the sculpture is intended to represent tenderness and silence, and that he hopes it will serve as a mirror to help recover a sense of serenity in society.
This is the Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain).  It is a major public library, the largest in Spain, and one of the largest in the world.
These are a few street lamps along the Paseo del Prado, one of the main boulevards in Madrid.
This is the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande (Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great), a Roman Catholic Church in Central Madrid.  The Basilica’s dome is the largest in Spain and the fourth largest in Europe.
This is the Puerta de Toledo (Toledo Gate).  Construction on the gate began in 1812, but it wasn't completed until 1827.  It's built from granite and Colmenar stone and was erected to commemorate the arrival of King Ferdinand VII to Madrid.  
I recommend these bus tours to anyone who is traveling to a new city.  I think it's a great thing to do on the first day you're there, it's relaxing because you're being driven around - so maybe a good way to recover if you're experiencing jet lag - and an easy way to see a new city.  In addition to the ear buds they provide for the audio tour, they usually give you a map of the tour route so you can mark off things you want to see during your visit.  It's a wonderful way to get the lay of the land.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
2021: Sorry, no post on this day.

No comments: