This school holidays we are back in Europe. After a 24 hour journey we arrived in Madrid. And after coming from a fairly cold Sydney winter it is bloody hot!
A day later we headed off for a day out so that Dani and his two Spanish cousins (now on their long school holidays) could see a classic old castle. The classic palace-fortress castillo de Manzanares el Real.
The town of Manzanares el Real has about 9,000 inhabitants and lies to the north of Madrid. It is about an hour on public transport (bus) from the centre of Madrid. It is located at the foot of The Pedriza (see photos below), which is part of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. In front of the castle is the embalse de Santillana (the Santillana reservoir).
The castle is known as the New Castle of Manzanares el Real and is the best conserved castle in the Community of Madrid. Construction started in 1475. The old Castle is actually the ruin of a former fortress. Only two walls remain standing, now integrated into a garden complex. Unsurprisingly the castle has been used in several motion pictures, most notably El Cid.
I am sure you will agree that this is an extremely photogenic castle. If you haven’t visited this area and you get the chance I can highly recommend it.
Stadium Tour – Cheeky Bastards!
The following day we took the kids on a tour of the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Better known outside of Spain as the Bernabéu stadium, home of Real Madrid football club.
The stadium is currently undergoing major works as they race against time to complete the outer shell and retractable roof before the start of the new season. It’s basically one big building site inside. What an absolute rip off for people who have come from all over the world (and they do!) to see the stadium and hopefully get the chance to step on the famous pitch. It was basically all shut off – and you can see why from the photos. A total construction site.
Yet they still charge people for the “tour” – albeit at a slightly discounted rate. I guess that all goes to show how much these super rich football institutions really care about the poor fans eh? Wankers! (in my opinion). That is why I dislike the big football clubs so much these days and do not bother with football at all. But of course they won’t give a damn about what I think of it will they? Ah, who cares? The people flock to it like moths to the light.
The main thing is that the kids seemed to enjoy it and even bought some souvenirs from the “official shop”.
A couple of days later the kids spent hours in one of those video gaming zones they now seem to put in all of the shopping centres. I think given the choice between a classic old castle, a famous stadium tour and a spot of virtual reality gaming, the kids would choose the latter every time…