Bullfighting would be more likely associated with Madrid, Spain than its architecture. However, the draw for me was some uniquely designed buildings and staircases. The bullfights had ended about a month before my arrival.
Architectural Designs in the Suburbs of Madrid
The intense brilliant color of this residential building is the result of three shades of green translucent polycarbonate panels mounted on an aluminum shell. This building was a $22 cab ride from our rental in Madrid. Not knowing what kind of neighborhood it was, most of my camera gear was left behind at the rental unit. Turns out this is just an unusual building in a middle class working neighborhood. There are bars on windows, gated entries, not the luxurious kind, and gated play lots for the children, but not a bad area.
While in the neighborhood, I took a 20 minute walk to another building spotted during the cab ride to the green building. These stark black residential buildings stood out within the neighborhood for the opposite reason as Vallecas 51.
It does not take much to bring some interest and color to buildings. Too bad it is not done more frequently.
It is not clear if the bent pipes below were intended to be part of the aesthetic design or out of budget necessities. I’m going with the latter. People in the surrounding park area were curious why this obvious gray-haired intruder was taking photos of pipes. Try to explain taking this photo with a language barrier. ‘Muy bonito’ did not get the point of art across as they did not think much of it, seeing it day after day. Just seemed like an interesting design and colors to me. Maybe many of you feel the same way, let me know.
Madrid City Architectural Designs
The CaixaForum Madrid Museum is funded by a large Spanish bank of the same name. I knew there were some interesting stairs inside so that was my goal for buying the ticket. The stairs were so appealing, I visited none of the art museum exhibits. What I missed, I’ll never know, but I was thoroughly entertained by the three stairwells within the museum.
How can one building have so many interesting stairs?
The outside of CaixaForum was interesting as well. This iPhone picture shows the museum’s vertical garden. Moss and flowers were growing very well and were wet to the touch, helping cool the small plaza. What a good idea.
More art in the area. A pair of large baby faces greet people exiting the train station. He looks like he is squinting from the sun. Of course people would pose next to these ten feet tall faces with their fingers up the nose.
Arganzuela Foot Bridge
Photographers often head out for serious photography at sunset. Not necessarily for the color of the sunset, rather the nice shadows and golden light the setting sun creates. It seemed as the sun might set before I would arrive at the Arganzuela Bridge should I walk, so I got into a cab. Passengers were just exiting so it seemed natural that the cab driver would be in a very good mood for me, getting new business right away. Not the case. I showed him the name of my destination on iPhone as usual so there is no fumbling with my Spanish and no communication issues. I did attempt to say the name Arganzuela. Best I could understand he said it was too close, he does not speak English, and I should walk. Forty-five minutes later, I arrived at the bridge.
Two large spiraling metal structures span the Madrid River, linking two separate sections of Madrid and providing access to the Arganzuela Park below. The evening of these photos the park was crowded with bikers, skateboarders, families and couples having picnics and kids playing in the fountains. Surprisingly, there was no graffiti on the bridge. Apparently some structures are off-limits to the spray can taggers. A large section of highway which encircled Madrid was moved underground to create space for this public project.
Madrid Rental Neighborhood
Years ago we watched the TV show, My Name Is Earl which aired from 2005 – 2009 and had a character named Patty, The Daytime Hooker. She was not attractive enough to compete with the better looking hookers at night. The hooker at the end of our street in Madrid reminded us of Patty, The Daytime Hooker. I can tell you for certain I do not know if our Madrid hooker was a he or a she originally, but I think he or she could have kicked my a**. Those were headlines I did not want, nor did I wish to blog about my findings. I’m explaining why the photo is blurry. I kept moving, despite the smoochy noises he or she would make at me as I passed. He or she was quite friendly, but I never worked up the courage to talk to Madrid’s version of Patty, The Daytime Hooker.
So we scoot by Patty, the Daytime Hooker and head off to dinner somewhere. Wandering up and down many twisting, turning street makes it nearly impossible to find your way back home, if it were not for our trusty iPhones, T-Mobile Internet and our street mapping applications. Here is a good reason to not rent a car and only walk during your stay in the old section of Madrid. Note below that a .2 mile, 5 minute walk, is a 10 minute 1.8 mile drive. For all interested parties, I have also marked the exact location of Patty, The Daytime Hooker.
Eking out a living is always very apparent in large tourist cities. I do not know if the Indian duo below sent away for this set-up or welded it themselves. I first saw this type of exhibit in Rome. It may take a while to figure out, but the metal support structure is hidden in their robes. The bigger guy sits on a metal platform and serves as a counter weight. Note at this time of day, the guy on the bottom gets to be in the shade, sheltered from the scorching Madrid summer sun. Their contraption gets disassembled and placed in the suitcase when the day is done. I would certainly like to know more about how they do with a gig like this and the discussion which led them to it.
Just beyond this Indian balancing act is a shopping thoroughfare more crowded than any I’ve seen in the States, including NYC. There are long waiting lines to get into certain clothing stores due to the overwhelming crowds. If you get separated in this mess, you will need your phones to reconnect.
Streetlight designs in Madrid. Looks to me like a pineapple on top of the street light, a sign of welcome and friendship, but that seems a stretch for Spain. No pineapples here. You can see on the clock below it is 9:15 in the evening and it is still very bright, which is part of the reason they dine so late.
All large cities in Spain have large multi-lane roundabouts with fountains in the center. Neptune on a chariot is one of them. The trick here was to take the several second photo during a well-timed break in the traffic.
Madrid Rental Apartment
Like most of our European rentals, the Madrid rental apartment was in the oldest section of town where the buildings are a couple hundred years old. Hopefully, these apartments have been renovated some time in the last 100 years. Sometimes it is apparent we are renting what was once an attic. A requirement for our rentals is to have a balcony, which this apartment did. However, it was not very usable being in the hot sun for much of the day and zero view all the time. An advantage of only staying a week at each place is we have always been able to suck it up and stay the week. Really bad places have been very infrequent, but this was not one of our better rentals.
Good Spanish restaurants often do not open until 8:00pm. Families will often go out to eat at 10:00pm and get home after midnight. Much of that time is spent simply waiting for the bill. Our apartment was situated above these good restaurants and noise from the patrons below us went on until well after 2:00am. We decided that Spain is just on the wrong time zone. It is still quite bright at 9:30pm so one does not feel like going to dinner in the bright sun. The hot afternoons do not help, as businesses often shut down from 2:00pm until 5:00pm.
These photos make it look like there were only a few feet between our home and the neighbors. However in the ally walkway below were rows of dining tables on each side and a walkway between as seen in the video below.
The iPhone video below was filmed immediately outside our front rental entrance after midnight. The very best restaurants we found were here, in front of our casa, not blocks away.
I’m inserting a photos of the stairs from our rentals from now on as I’m getting them mixed up in my mind. These old building generally do not have elevators.
Goodnight from Madrid. Next, Lisbon, Portugal.