Ole Days



Tuesday 19th August 2008

We were very lethargic today. All these late nights were catching up with us. It was gone 11am by the time we checked out our room having filled our boots for breakfast. We were flying home today and had about three hours to waste before making our way over to the airport.

Leaving our luggage behind at the hotel we decided to seek out Madrid's oldest toy shop Santorio de Munecos. We had an address on c/Precadios and set off armed with a map.

We quickly found the street but there wasn't a toy shop in sight. We spent almost twenty minutes just walking up and down the length of the road looking for anything that resembled a toy shop.

We gave up before we got too stressed about it and decided to walk down Gran Via in the hope of coming across anywhere (oldest, biggest, it didn't matter) that sold toys.

We had not walked down this way before.

Gran Via, Madrid

The architecture was very interesting, especially the sequence that resembled 1930's America. The Art Deco was certainly not what I expected in the Spanish capital.

Whilst we saw plenty of shops in beautiful buildings we didn't find one toy store.

We resigned ourselves to not finding a toy police car for my father's collection.

We had now almost reached Plaza de Espana at the end of Gran Via.

Gran Via, Madrid

Instead of traipsing aimlessly we decided to sit down outside a cafe to plan our next two hours.

When the guide book came out and we looked at the map, we realised there wasn't much of Madrid we hadn't already covered!

Thankfully the coffee here was nice enough to have a second cup so we settled down for a longer more leisurely break.

Mahou beer delivery
We didn't want to spend our last few hours rushing around so we just strolled slowly back towards the hotel.
Plaza de Espana, Madrid

Our route took us down to Plaza de Espana where a bonafide skyscraper dominated the square.

It really wouldn't have looked out of place in 1930s New York.

Unfortunately it was covered in scaffolding and not looking its best today.

When we reached Palacio Real we turned back towards the centre of the Spanish universe, walking through Plaza de Oriente with its statue of Felipe IV and past the unremarkable looking Teatro Real. For a royal theatre it didn't look too opulent on the outside. Something tells me they make up for it on the inside.

A little later we stumbled across the Austrian Cider Bar we walked out of last night and to our surprise just around the corner was Monasterio de las Descalzas, the monastery of the Royal Barefoot Sisters.

We stood outside the entrance contemplating spending our last hour inside its sacred walls but 100m away we saw El Corte Ingles, the Court of the English.

It may sound like another 16th century attraction to rival the monastery but was in fact a very modern department store. It didn't take long for us to decide we had done enough culture for one visit and felt our time would be better spent shopping instead.

After wasting ten minutes in the children's department and five minutes in the foodhall we popped out the other side onto the lower half of a pedenstrianised calle de Precadios. After wasting another few minutes wondering why the street name rang a bell the penny eventually dropped. The oldest toy shop in Madrid was here somewhere.

We found it on the first floor stradling over a pharmacy and a mobile phone shop and below a dental practice. I don't know about it being the oldest but it was certainly the smallest.

Sanatorio de Munecos, oldest toy shop in Madrid
Sanatorio de Munecos, oldest toy shop in Madrid

It was only one room and was mostly filled with Dolls. I was a bit hesitant, even reluctant to walk inside.

I followed Julie in and we filled the tiny room. We kept on bumping into each other!

We were pleased we made the effort though as we found the toy police car that we were looking for.

We spent the last half hour sitting outside Bar Armenia on calle de Carmen sharing a Patatas Bravas, a Patatas "Ali Oli" and a Gazpacho.

Whilst enjoying lunch we were suddenly hassled by this hygenically challenged madman who arrived on a kids scooter. He had one eye bigger than the other, looked like he regularly slept in the gutter and stank like he'd been rolling about on the piss drenched floor of the public toilets.

He was bemoaning about something in Spanish which made it easier for us to ignore him. That only encouraged him to move closer, right in our faces. "Don't make eye contact don't make eye contact don't make eye contact."

patas bravas, Madrid

We were so relieved when he staggered past us and tried his luck at the next table. He staggered a little too much and crashed into the table spilling all the drinks.

Edifico Telefonica, Gran Via, Madrid

The two young ladies looked petrified and screamed out in shock. Their male companions pumped out their chests and looked menacingly towards the loco hobo.

You could tell however they were hoping their scary faces and loud protests would be enough to scare the rancid drunk away without having to resort to physical violence or more to the point coming into contact with his skin crawling filthiness, even if it would have been with a fist.

The tramp backed off slightly and as it appeared that he was about to sulk away he lunged forward and stole sandwiches off some plates and scooted off shoving the food into his mouth. Poor guy must have been desperate although I must admit I almost laughed.

It was time to walk up the hill of Calle de la Salud for the last time to collect our luggage from the hotel.

We caught the metro from Gran Via from outside the Edifico Telefonica and were soon at Barajas airport.

As we were queuing at the departure gate we were told that our flight would be delayed by an hour because they had found a small stud embedded in one of the wheels.

"Imagine the jack they'll need to change that wheel!" said Julie.

People were getting a bit annoyed and moaning about the delay but Julie was quite content in the knowledge that at least the security checks had spotted the problem and when we finally hurtle down the runway it would be safe and sound to fly.

This point was tragically highlighted the day after we got home. On the 20th August a Spanair DC-10 flight from Madrid on its way to Tenerife crashed on take-off killing a 153 people.

It was good to be home.

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