Thursday, September 06, 2007

Riding the buses…the Madrid Vision

With only a few days in Madrid, it makes sense to look for a way to see as much of Madrid as possible. I usually try to ride the local buses around a new city to get a feel of the place and observe and interactive with local people. But this time, with such limited time, I opted for a tourist bus - the Madrid Vision. This highly visible red double-decker bus travels two routes - the historic and the modern - around the city. Each trip takes around 45 minutes and provides an great overall of places and sights around Madrid. And you can hop on and off as often as you wish.

On boarding the bus, you are given a red headset that provide access to a running commentary in the language of your choice. Be warned, though, not all plugs seem to work. It took me three seat changes before I found my commentator. As the bus wasn’t very full, this wasn’t a problem.

The Madrid Vision made sightseeing around the city easy, allowing me to discover the location of places that I had previously only seen in pictures. The bus travelled down the Calle Mayor to the Plaza Puerto del Sol, then on to the Atocha Train Station, stopping briefly at The Prado, skirting the Parque del Retiro and heading back toward the Palacio Real. I saw brief glimpses of the many monuments and statues around the city and was enthralled by the ornate windows, doors, and roofs of the buildings.

Sitting up in the open air top level of the bus, it was easy to look down onto the street and observe the locals and other tourists. It’s a bit voyeuristic really. I could watch people as they wandered along the streets, stopping at lights, and shopping for food and drink.

And from such an elevated location, there was also a much clear view of the buildings, and in particular the monuments and murals that seem to be common place along the streets of Madrid.

Along the way, I also learned some interesting things about buses and sightseeing…

- trying to get a good photography when the bus is moving is impossible.

- there’s never a good shot when the bus is stopped- the view is either blocked, shadowed, none existent…

- standing up when the bus is moving is not always a good idea.

- sun burn and heat stroke is a good possibility when sitting in an open air bus.

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keith said...

Agree with everything you said in the last para! This time, I took a camcorder ... you can see the result under the entry 'Madrid Bus Ride' in my blog,


Hi Keith, I enjoyed your video of the 'Madrid Bus Ride' especially the music...would never have the patience to hold a camcord still long enough to make a video...


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