SPAIN: Bilbao & Madrid

Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 12 Comments



Holy Bilbao: It’s The Guggenheim!




















Park Along The Ria De Bilbao


Nice Shopping Mall


I Make My Escape Into The Park On The Other Side




It’s Baby Day At The Park – Must Have Been 500 Of Them!


My Modern Spotless Hostel


My Cozy Little Private Room






The Gateway To The Casco Viejo – Old Town


Restaurants And Shops Line The Streets






Local Basques Drinking And Singing

They are also wondering about the photographer who is wearing the hat that is strangely similar to their own.


A Waitress Catches A Quick Smoke

I originally took this shot just to look up the name of the restaurant on trip advisor, but on examination thought it had merit. Europeans still smoke a lot, but they have been exiled to the sidewalks for the pause that refreshes.






Scary street art symbolizing feminist displeasure with chauvinist Spaniard males

All I know is that the guys walking past this didn’t linger very long.




Riverside Park








I’d Love To Have A Smaller Version To Take Home


Then I Got The Bright Idea To Go To A Large Park Adjacent To The Old Town On The Map


Up The Ramp Then Through The Creepy Underpass Complete With Abandoned Bedroll


Then Up A Long And Winding Road With No Entrance In Sight


Finally The Park?!?  Not Much Going On Here But Me Sweating.


Not To End The Day On A Bad Note I Came Back Here For A Snack And Music

There was a fellow playing a solo interpretation of the Beatles first album. It was really quite pleasant, and there were a lot of locals in attendance. The guy had a nice voice and actually managed to pull it off quite well. Once he was done I had to get back to the hostel to make plane and hotel reservations for Portugal so I headed back using an alternate route. I knew I was living in a dodgy neighborhood, but on the way home I discovered that only two blocks away there are a number of tiny seedy bars with prostitutes hanging about. That was entertaining.

I got back to my place, took a shower, and realized once and for all something wasn’t quite right. The Jean Luc Picard hairdo I have been sporting wasn’t doing itself justice like on the Captain. On me, it was irregular and spotty. This just wouldn’t do.


Photo on 5-9-15 at 9.30 PM


Looks like a solar eclipse going on with my head as the planetary object or maybe it’s some kind of epiphany or sacred phenomenon. Don’t expect any followers any time soon since even the gullible masses would be reluctant to fall for my lightbulb trick. Until then I’ll continue to preach the gospel of long-term world travel to whoever will listen, and spread the good news of the promised land which is where you find yourself at any given time. I’m sitting in the Bilbao Airport having had my flight to Portugal canceled as a result of a pilot strike so I opted for a trip to Madrid for now. The key to world travel is always staying flexible.



Room 007 Hostel – A Warm Reception At 11:30 pm – A Welcome Respite To A Long Day

After having spent my whole day in the Bilbao Airport, and then having my flight to Madrid delayed I finally pulled into my home for four days. What a great place. Well located with helpful people at your beck and call. A real 5-star hostel situation. I was lucky to get a four-bed dorm room to myself for two nights, but I am getting the hang of this hostel thing even in my advanced years, and this after never having done it previously. I had it easy in Southeast Asia where a 3-star hotel could be had for the price of a hostel, but this is Europe, and I had to change my game plan or become rapidly insolvent. Okay, I splurged in Biarritz, but that’s the only one so far, so not bad overall.

I took the free walking tour offered by my hostel the next day and was shocked to find it being led by a dead ringer for a girlfriend I had been with twenty-five years ago. She was even the age as at the time I was going out with her. It was as if time and space had fractured for a moment which was made even more creepy by the fact that I was reading a great sci-fi novel that involved quantum field stuff, and made the appearance of my old girlfriend in her original form all the more likely.

Traveling you do meet interesting looking people. I met someone in Hoi An, Vietnam who looked just like Cate Blanchette. I was mistaken today for Jamie from the Mythbusters TV show, and I don’t even have the bushy mustache. I have Adam’s beard and Jamie’s lack of hair and hat, but it sure was fun to have a Spaniard come up to me in the Apple store anyway. Maybe I should shave the beard part, grow out the mustache, and go for the celebrity treatment.


PLAZA DEL SOL – First Stop On The Tour


SYMBOL OF MADRID – Bear Getting Drunk On Fermented Fruit

So next time you find yourself criticizing those vomiting college kids on the streets of Madrid, they’re only living up to the city’s primary hallmark. So college kids in Madrid, if you throw up on your shirts, wear them with pride!


The Opera House


 Isabel II – The Unattractive Queen Who Married A Queen

Well, she married a gay and figured it out after he showed no interest in her bits and pieces. This upset her so she banished him from the city, and took on a series of lovers that produced a number of offspring. When she wasn’t having affairs, she traveled all over Europe and realized Madrid was sorely lacking in the Arts department, so she built the Opera house you see here. The reason for its bland exterior is that the Catholic church frowned upon any building outshining the house of God. Yes folks, Spain, after all, was the home of the Spanish Inquisition so you really didn’t want to get on their bad side. These are the kind of zealots you do not want in your life. Travel Zealots are okay.


 Royal Palace








The Main Cathedral – As You Can See The Front Is Kind Of Plain

This is so as not to outshine the Royal Palace opposite it.


The Backside Of The Cathedral – A Little More Ornamental

They could jazz up the back of the Cathedral since it wasn’t visible from the Palace. There is an amusing joke in Madrid about the Cathedral and its strange aesthetic dichotomy. A little sexist but funny nonetheless. If a woman looks good from the back, and then turns around and isn’t too pleasant to look at, guys make a reference to the Cathedral.






La Pizzateca – Best Artisanal Pizza In Town – Alejo (Proprietor)

The pizza pictured bottom center is a delicious mushroom pie with truffle sauce drizzle. Forget the tapas, grab a slice here. He will be moving to a new location just down the street with a little more space for tables. This is a great way to save some money and feel like you are getting the best that Madrid has to offer.


 La Plaza Del Angel




 Reina Sofia Museum


 Fernand LEGER – The Two Figures 1923




 George BRAQUE – Pitcher And Violin 1909


Salvador DALI – Cubist Self Portrait 1923


 Juan GRIS – Guitar And Newspaper 1925




Diego RIVERA – Beer Glass 1917


Salvador DALI – Face Of The Great Masturbator 1929


Salvador DALI – Portrait Of Luis Buñuel 1924


Salvador DALI – Systematic Cycle, The Lobster 1935




Cafe Populart – Great Jazz Bar


Toulouse Lautrec – Cool Exterior – A Must For Lautrec Fans








Puerta De Alcala – The Entrance Point Of Madrid




Retiro Park – Madrid’s Finest Park

This park has got it all. It’s pretty and utilitarian. There are lots of old growth trees and plenty of points of interest to take in, like the Monumento Alfonso XII, Palacio Cristal, and the Estatua Del Angel Caido. On this lake that surrounds the Monumento Alfonso XII you can rent rowboats for 6 euros for forty-five minutes which I took full advantage of. It’s so nice to glide past the monument, watching the carp jump and people enjoying themselves as you row.










Palacio De Cristal

The Palacio De Cristal is a building of glass window panes that usually has some sort of art installation inside which can be beautiful looking in, but also a nice view of the park from the inside looking out.










The Statue Of The Fallen Angel – At 666 Feet Above Sea Level

Finally after all of the churches and cathedrals all over Europe, a tourist attraction for the Satanists.

They can sacrifice a goat at midnight, dance around the fountain to their heart’s content, and then clean themselves off. The only thing close to Satanists that I saw was a bunch of young skate rats skateboarding around the fountain at the time.




The park is quite large with thousands of nooks and crannies to curl up in the shade with a book, make out with a lover, or just take a nap to offset a night of partying. There are also copious quantities of cafes, restaurants, and refreshment stalls throughout.






Templo De Debod – Egyptian Temple




Ending Up At A Piece Of Egypt – I’m Off To Portugal In The Morning


  1. Jason B.
    May 9, 2015

    Holy shiznit!! Always wanted to do that but never had the balls. lol Was enjoying the pictures, the art and waiting for the “surprise” and boom!! That was a great pay off. The force is strong in this one!

  2. The Travel Zealot
    May 10, 2015

    Yeah Jason it took a while to take the final step, but it was beginning to look kind of lame. I’m glad I finally took the plunge. Thankfully I seem to have the skull for it.

  3. Jason B.
    May 16, 2015

    I was thinking the same thing. Your head is quite symmetrical. You can pull it off without looking like a alien, You do not want to be stumbling around looking all top heavy like E,T, lol

  4. The Travel Zealot
    May 16, 2015

    Yeah Jason,
    The last thing I need is jokes like T.Z. phone home! I’m really into it. I shave it, and it looks good for about a week and then I shave it again. Very low maintenance, and no haircuts! I find badly thinning and receding hair on me kind of depressing so this was an ideal solution. I actually enjoy my hair or lack of it again.

  5. Jason B.
    May 17, 2015

    Thats another great round of photos and narrative. Really enjoyed madrid!

  6. Jason B.
    May 17, 2015

    I am obsessed with Dali. The pictures are amazing. Can not imagine how cool they are in person. WOW!

  7. The Travel Zealot
    May 17, 2015

    Thanks Jason!

  8. The Travel Zealot
    May 17, 2015

    They are great in person. I forgot to mention that this museum has Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica in its permanent collection. Now that is truly amazing in person. The first track on Pink Floyds Atom Heart Mother goes very well with that piece.

  9. Marianna Torreblanca
    May 25, 2015

    That is a surprise!!!! Looking good goddamit! 🙂

  10. The Travel Zealot
    May 25, 2015

    Yeah the new haircut or hair removal is going over well with the general public.

  11. Z
    May 29, 2015

    First of all, I didn’t realized in our phone conversation when you mentioned about Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, that it was THIS particular building. This museum structure is breathtaking! I saw it on the travel channel while ago and undoubtedly placed it into my bucket list.
    Secondly, I didn’t know you’ve visited Madrid, and I’m glad you did. Thank you for the overview and pictures. Since I never been in Spain, this will be very helpful to distinguish between places to visit someday.
    What you are doing is amazing and impressive, bigZ, I’m so happy you are living your dream!

  12. The Travel Zealot
    May 30, 2015

    The Guggenheim is a big selling point for Bilbao Z, but it has other things going for it as well. My Madrid trip happened as a result of a flight to Porto that was cancelled so I went to Madrid. You gotta roll with the punches on the road, and be ready to alter your plans accordingly.

    This European leg of the five year sojourn is really paying dividends. It has been very relaxing, and intellectually and emotionally nourishing. The food has been good too. Since I don’t drink, I use the money to enrich and expand my palate. iBooks has been keeping me supplied with a steady stream of good books.

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