Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Real Madrid: Plaza de Oriente, Royal Palace, and Queen Isabel II's Waistline

After meandering the ancient alleyways around Plaza Mayor and ending at Puerto del Sol, I suddenly felt my tummy complaining 'tengo hambre' (I'm hungry)

Though my eyes feasted with all the window displays of Spanish delicacies, spanish abanicos, bocadillo de jamon, tartas and brazos, my tummy was still empty! So, after dropping off my postcards at the post office at the basement of El Corte Inglés, Spain's largest chain of department stores, I headed towards Teatro Real, where the statue of Queen Isabel II stood.

El Corte Inglés was just a few meters out of Puerta del Sol, and tracing my Madrid map, I passed through again Puerta on my way to Plaza de Oriente.
   (Queen Isabel II before Teatro Real)

Before reaching Plaza de Oriente, I had to pass by Teatro Real, where the statue of Queen Isabel II stood, claiming sovereignty over the Opera Station, a subway station next to Teatro Real (Royal Theater), which hosts operas and theater performances; hence the station was named 'opera'.
                  (A royal waistline)

And while Queen Isabel II's subjects probably included commuters taking a subway ride, most of them probably ignore her quiet presence. But that day, one tourist became her curious subject, photographing and scrutinizing her statue. 

And something was not right, I thought. Her proportions were off! Ja-ja-ja!

I guess that's what I have learned all these years being an amateur photographer. I could easily spot what's not natural. If I could always spot a fake nose while walking around Seoul, spotting a fake waistline was easy. Queen Isabel II reigned from 1833 to 1868, and had I criticized her statue during those years, it probably cost me my head. Ja-ja-ja!

And by the time I was done admiring the queen's slim waistline, which bore no inflation from all the jamón ibérico, tapas, tartas (cakes) and bocadillos (sandwiches) she was served cada dia en su palacio, it was time for my own tummy to be filled.

I decided on a restaurant, and not just a bocadillo shop. Just like the queen, I had to be served. After all, there were 13 Spanish kings bearing my name; I crowned myself as the fourteenth. Ja-ja-ja!
(I wanted to order one plate of paella, but the waiter told me that the serving was too much for one person. Instead, he served me sliced tomatoes in Arbequinian oil and sprinkled with Maldon salt, bread and a mix of chorizo ibérico with Machego cheese. He didn't trust I could finish one paella.)

   (I asked Señor Paulo the marca(brand 
      of his delicious chocolate and vanilla
          ice cream; he didn't know.) 

The I reached Plaza de Oriente with a heavy stomach, burping as I stood in awe in front of the magnificent galloping statue of King Philip IV. The statue of the monarch riding a galloping horse was a tricky project. Its designer, Pietro Tacca, was worried that the statue would fall, considering that only the horse's two hind legs would be supporting the statue. But the Father of Modern Physics, Galileo Galilee, came to the rescue and calculated the weight distribution and design. He suggested that the elevated portion should be hollow, while the lower end should be solid, giving support to the whole elegant statue. I figured they had to consult the most famous physicist at that time, considering the king would also have been ignoring his own weight management with all the jamon iberico and tapas buffet in the palace.
             (Physics problem: how to balance 
           King Philip IV and his galloping horse)

               (Admiring a royal architecture)

Plaza de Oriente was actually to the 'east' of the Royal Palace; hence 'oriente'. And by the time I was done admiring the statues and sculptures in the Plaza, it was late afternoon and the Palacio Real, with all its 2,800 rooms, was closed. I wasn't planning to go inside anyways; I might just encounter a Spanish ghost and even with my basic Spanish, I figured we might not be able to understand each other. Ja-ja-ja! 
(Abre la puerta! They wouldn't let me in the palacio.)

                     (Cathedral of Almudena)

As expected, the Royal Palace looked magnificent but I was more fascinated with the architecture of the Cathedral of Almudena, completed in 1883, situated across the palace. I got there just as the sun was setting, and with the lights of the Cathedral bathing it, the colors of the sunset and the church were matching each other!
      (Soft light and shadows always bring 
      out the beauty of any architecture)

                      *  *  *  *  *

Fernando Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) left Seville, Spain, in August 1519 and arrived in the Philippines in March 1521, after about 21 months.

And I expected these two Madrid postcards, which I sent through the post office at the basement of El Corte Inglés for €2 each to arrive at my postal address in the Philippines for less than the time it took Magellan.

Sadly, the two postcards never arrived. :-(

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