Category Archives: Street Markets

Jittery at Jaarbeurs

Jaarbeurs

For 2 days each November, completely over the top, massively obsessed collectors of every conceivable stripe converge on Utrecht in the Netherlands to buy, sell, barter and bullshit at Verzamelaars Jaarbeurs, The International Collectors Fair and Europe’s biggest Vintage Event.

We thought it would be a perfect fit for us, but as we approached the building the sky darkened, the clouds began to roil and it all started to feel, you know, funny. A peculiar vibe emanated from the doors and we soon discovered that the hall was filled to capacity with very strange creatures indeed.  I can’t prove it, but I just know, they’re watching us.

“The odds are you’ll find what you’re looking for, but there are even better odds that you’ll find something else, because this happens to be The Twilight Zone…..”

“Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask . . . particularly in the Twilight Zone……” The After Hours – Season 1 – Episode 34

Collection of Curiosities

To lighten the mood we thought a quick stop at the University Museum might just hit the spot. This small museum has a lovely botanical garden which only serves to hide many curiosities.


The Skeleton Collection

Prepare to quiver with horror as we approach the Bleuland Cabinet.

All these artifacts come from the private collection of professor of medicine Jan Bleuland.

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

Jan Bleuland (1756-1838)

I think I may be permanently scarred. There’s also babies in bottles but my partner says they’re just too much.

A Fast Train Through the Netherlands

This year’s adventure flew by faster then a bullet train. I didn’t get even close to pointing out all the remarkable things we’ve seen in this outstanding country. Let’s finish with an assortment of the wacky, weird and wonderful.

The Bloemendaal Train Station

The Bloemendaal Train Station

Rommelmarkts

I’d characterize almost every flea market and bazaar we’ve been to here as a Jumble Sale. I’ve never seen such an odd collection of used clothes, broken toys, rusty tools and assorted junky stuff.

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt in Haarlem

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

Rommelmarkt at Wijk Ann Zee

The Rommelmarkt at Appelscha takes place in what appears to be an abandoned amusement park for kiddies. The only thing left are the creepy forlorn creatures that have been abandoned and left to  fester like captives in an old Twilight Zone episode.

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IJHallen, in North Amsterdam, is probably the longest running Rommelmarkt in Holland.

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The Bazaar in Beverwijk is a whole other animal. It was billed as a long established mixed use affair. There are huge warehouse type buildings filled with most everything you can imagine. No collectibles or antiques but tons of cheap underwear, toys, tools, jewelry and Middle Eastern food. Kind of a free trip to Turkey.

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Waanders In De Broeren

The Broerenkerk, Church of Brothers,  was part of the Dominican monastery from 1465 until the monks were expelled in 1589 and the Protestants took over.

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Now it houses Waanders in de Broeren, one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever seen. A joy to wander around or just have a snack.

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A Few Loose Ends

Art Supplies in Haarlem

Art Supplies in Haarlem

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Leeuwarden

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The St Bernards of Leeuwarden

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Den Haag

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Den Haag Central Station

The Passages in Den Haag

The Passages in Den Haag

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

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Bloemendaal Ann Zee

Druggist in Zwolle

Druggist in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

Lunch in Zwolle

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice - Bitterballen and Mustard (They're pretty good)

The Dutch Appetizer of Choice – Bitterballen and Mustard (They’re pretty good)

 

Vienna – Top 10

The Great, the SoSo and the Run Like Hell

Before we got to Vienna we purchased lots of books about the city and it’s many attractions. Between these books and the many articles we’re read there have been tons of Top 10 lists. I thought it might be fun, for me at least, to review our most memorable 10. By way of a disclaimer I should point out that there probably isn’t anybody in the world that would agree with me. Even my wife thinks I’m full of malarkey.

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The City

The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) does an annual Liveabilty Survey. With it’s low crime rate, great transportation system, sophisticated culture and architecture, Vienna is considered the second most livable city in the world. A little crowded at times but still nonthreatening, comfortable and easy to get around, it’s packed with great things to see. We loved it.

Downtown Vienna

Downtown Vienna

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Photo by Wendi

Photo by Wendi

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Fiaker Photo by Wendi

Fiaker                                                                                  Photo by Wendi

DogTie

These are to secure your dog while you are in the shop.

I don't think these things serve any purpose.

I don’t think these things serve any purpose.

Bart

A shout out to Bart

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The Belvedere

Completed in 1723 as a summer residence for Prince Eugen of Savoy, this was the most ambitious building project ever undertaking by a private individual. It is now home to some of Austria’s greatest artistic treasures. We are here for the Secessionist Art and this is Ground Zero for that particularly Viennese art movement. This is the home of Gustav Klimt’s most celebrated work, “the Kiss”, and art lovers make pilgrimages here like they do to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Masterpieces by all the great Secessionist artists like Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl and many more are on display, as well as all the great Impressionist. If you are an art lover this place needs to be on your bucket list.

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It was good to be the Prince.

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The Secession Building

This large, white cubic Secessionist building was opened in 1897 to mixed reviewed. Critics called it everything from a warehouse to a public restroom. The quality of the art it contained was never in question, most of which was looted in World War II. The building was finally restored in the 70’s and today is considered one of the finest examples of the Secessionist period. I loved the building, I only wished there was more art. The basement has a room specifically designed to house the completely restored 110’ long fresco of Gustav Klimt’s “Ode To Joy”. With the exception of this masterpiece and a few sparse and pathetic contemporary pieces on the first floor the building was devoid of art, but perhaps one masterpiece and an outstanding building, is enough.

Secessionist Building Photo by Wendi

Secessionist Building                                         Photo by Wendi

Owls were admired foir their wisdom. Photo by Wendi

Owls were admired for their wisdom.                                                               Photo by Wendi

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Turtles were admired for their longevity

Turtles were admired for their longevity.

The Hofburg Palace

Have you ever been to Disney World on a holiday weekend? Paid a fortune to get in and then stood shoulder to shoulder in a hoard of humanity barely able to move. Now move the whole thing into an IKEA style rat maze. Replace all the products with a never ending row of glass cases filled with old silver, glassware and plates that you can’t get close enough to see. Then join an endless procession through a series of period rooms equipped with dress displays, dioramas and cut out figures as you try deperately to find the exit. Escape is futile.

If you want you avoid this, save your money and stay outside. The buildings, grounds and setting are magnificent.

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Lipizanner Horses

These Spanish horses were brought to Austria by Emperor Maximilian II in 1562. Encouraged by their beauty, intelligence and stamina the Hofburg’s Spanish Riding School was established in 1572. In the summer the Riding School does training from 10 to 12 daily in an old arena next to the stables.

Wendi is a Montana girl and as such has an affinity for horses and insisted that we attend so she could see these beautiful animals in action. We stood in a long line at 8:45 am and waited patiently to fork over our 16 Euros each to watch this sold out event. The pictures advertising the event showed peppy horses leaping and prancing and running and rearing back on their haunches and marching in formation. We braced ourselves for the excitement.

All I can say is that between the 1 ¼ hours in line, the two hour “show” and the ¾ hours in the cheap café, there are 4 hours of my life that I will never get back.

There was no show and as far as I could tell and no training unless, of course, watching various horses and riders slowly wandering aimlessly around the arena for 2 hours can be called a show. At least 2/3 of the audience had fled within 45 minutes.

Sure I’m a little cynical, but I didn’t need them to bring out the barrels and the clowns or do any calf roping, just a little something that resembled the advertising would have been nice.

All the pictures you see were shot stealthily as young attendants circled through the crowd informing everyone that picture taking was strictly “verboten”. I can understand why. You would hate to have unauthorized images of this breathtaking extravaganza circulating on the internet. I did a little quick math based on seating capacity and ticket prices and won’t be surprised if this little scam netted over 3 million Euros a year.

On a positive note, the arena was very old and interesting.

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 Stephansdom

Considered Austria’s finest Gothic edifice, “Steffl” suffered severe damage from WWII bombing. It’s rebuilding was a symbol for hope for the country. If you like this sort of thing, it’s an A+.

Stephansdom Photo by Wendi

Stephansdom                                            Photo by Wendi

Stephansdom

Stephansdom

 Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt is the city’s largest market. The restaurant and food sections are opened everyday, but on Saturday’s local farmers arrive with their produce and a flea market sets up with hundreds of stalls. Needless to say, Wendi was, once again in heaven.

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 Time For Dessert

Oh yea, we love this stuff. You can’t come to Vienna without trying its most famous cake, the Sachertorte. Franz Sacher is said to have invented this chocolate cake, apricot jam and chocolate frosting concoction in 1832. We tried it twice to be sure, but unfortunately found it a little dry.

Sachertorte

Sachertorte

But oh, the equally celebrated Apfelstrudel with Whipped Cream was to die for. With a cup of good coffee, this is the stuff dreams are made of.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel

The Leopold

Located inside the courtyard of the Museumsquartier complex, this limestone cube is one of our favorite museums in the world. We were so intrigued that we spent two days at the Leopold just so we wouldn’t miss a thing. This outstanding building hosts a magnificent collection of Austrian art from the 1870s to the 1950s, including the world’s largest collection of Egon Schiele and a huge group of Gustav Klimt paintings. It is also surrounded by a courtyard filled with great restaurants. How can you go wrong?

The Leopold Stock Photo

The Leopold                                                                                                                        Stock Photo

The Leopold

The Leopold

Artists Tales of Sex, Betrayal and Untimely Death

Egon Sciele

Egon Schiele

EGON SCHIELE

In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Walburga (Wally) Neuzil. Schiele and Wally wanted to escape what they perceived as a claustrophobic Vienna. They went to the small town of Krumau, the birthplace of Schiele’s mother. Despite Schiele’s family connections in Krumau, he and his lover were driven out of the town by the residents, who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle, including his alleged employment of the town’s teenage girls as models. They moved to Neulengbach where Schiele’s studio became a gathering place for the town’s delinquent children. The artist’s way of life aroused much animosity among the town’s inhabitants, and in April 1912 he was arrested for seducing a young girl below the age of consent.

When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. Schiele was imprisoned while awaiting his trial. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. In court, the judge burned one of the offending drawings over a candle flame. The twenty-one days he had already spent in custody were taken into account, and he was sentenced to only three days’ imprisonment. While in prison, Schiele created a series of 12 paintings depicting the difficulties and discomfort of being locked in a jail cell.

In 1914, Schiele glimpsed Edith Harms, who lived with her parents across the street from his studio in Vienna. Schiele chose to marry the more socially acceptable Edith, but had apparently expected to maintain a relationship with Wally. However, when he explained the situation to Wally, she left him immediately and never saw him again. Despite some opposition from the Harms family, Schiele and Edith were married on June 17, 1915, the anniversary of the wedding of Schiele’s parents.

In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October. Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old. During the three days between their deaths, Schiele drew a few sketches of Edith; these were his last works.

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Richard Gerstl

RICHARD GERSTL

In 1906 the 22 year old Richard Gerstl, then an Academy student, met composer Arnold Schonberg and asked him to sit for a portrait. Gerstl admired the older composer and viewed him as somewhat of a father figure. During this time the young Gertl met Schonberg’s wife Mathilde and began to paint portraits of her as well. During the summer of 1907 the relationship developed into love. Schonberg suspected the liaison and during a summer vacation in 1908 caught the lovers “in flagrante”. Mathidle left Schonberg and her children but was soon persuaded to return for the sake of society and her family. The depressed Gerstl was cut of from Schonberg’s social circle and on the night of November 4, 1908 committed suicide. Mathilde became taciturn and shunned her husband’s company from that day on. All of the young artist’s paintings were packed away in boxes and stored in a warehouse. In 1931 art dealer Otto Kallir discovered Gerstl’s work and organized an exhibit in Vienna.

This was the first time Gerstl’s work was ever shown in public.





Market Mania

Quick Currency Conversion

Quick Currency Conversion

My wife is flea market crazy. I don’t mean that she likes or is slightly interested in flea markets. Oh no, she’s completely and totally bonkers, nuts, out of her ever lovin’ skull, just can’t get enough of, crazy about flea markets. She has dragged me to the most God awful, disgusting, trashy yard sales, jumble sales, boot sales, garage sales and impromptu street markets in broken down Grange Halls, dilapidated industrial sites, abandoned warehouses, trash strewn vacant lots, very scary dead end streets and deserted parking garages in every city we have ever visited just so I can have the immense pleasure of gazing upon and fondling acres of other people’s useless and discarded junk.

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Budapest has proven to be an exception to this otherwise nightmare scenario. Wendi has coerced me into two flea markets here and, I have to admit, they are terrific. Big, sprawling old school Markets, untouched by the tidal wave of cheap third world tshirts and trinkets. These are Markets were you can still find hidden gems and long forgotten items for a bygone era. Exactly the kind of Markets that made them popular to begin with.

Our first stop was at the Szechenyl Market is the middle of the large city park. The smaller of the two, Szechenyl has a bit of a yard sale feel but was still really interesting.

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Will you hurry up!

Will you hurry up!

Have to get one of these.

Have to get one of these.

Our last visit was at the Ecseri Market and it is the pièce de résistance. Located in the suburbs southwest of Budapest, getting there required two Metro transfers and a 20 minute bus ride, but was well worth the effort. A truly terrific treasure trove.

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Ecseri Market

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Wash Station

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Better hurry, this kind of market is rapidly disappearing.







Budapest – Our First Look Around

Budapest is a great big, busy and exciting city. It’s the capital and largest city in Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union, with a metropolitan population of 3.3 million.

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View of Pest from the Dome on the National Gallery.

Budapest is a very beautiful place that is ranked as the most liveable Central and Eastern European city on EIU‘s quality of life index, “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes, and the 9th most beautiful city in the world by UCityGuides.

View of Pest from the Dome on the National Gallery.

View of Pest from the Dome on the National Gallery.

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge

We’ve rented a great little apartment, Liesel/Pierre, in a historic building at Szervita ter 5 in the center of downtown Budapest.

Szervita ter 5

Szervita ter 5

Through here.

Through here.

Across the courtyard.

Across the courtyard.

We're on the top floor.

We’re on the top floor.

Top floor.

Top floor.

And we're there.

And we’re there.

Come In To The  Liesel/Pierre.

Now a walk around the neighborhood.

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Parizsi Utca

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Egyetemi Templom

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Karpatia at Ferenciek tere 3-5

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Chocolate Shop

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Fat Mo’s Speakeasy

The Central Market is one of Budapest’s great institutions. It’s cavernous and bustling and filled with food, clothes, gifts, wine, a great lunch and all things Hungarian.

The Central Market

The Central Market

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Madrid

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain with a population of roughly 3.3 million. This makes it the third largest city in the European Union. Its influences in politics, education, media, arts, entertainment, environment, fashion, science and culture all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities.

We were lucky enough to find a great little hotel called Lapepa in the middle of the Museum District that couldn’t possibly have been better. It was clean, quiet and walking distance from just about everything we wanted. Paula and and whole staff were friendly and amazingly helpful.

View from our window -The Westin Palace

View from our window -The Westin Palace

View from our window -The Westin Palace

View from our window -The Westin Palace

View from our window -The Villa Real

View from our window -The Villa Real

There’s no doubt about it, it’s a big city and can be a little intimidating until you get your bearings. We have come to love the “Hop On Hop Off” City Bus Tours. They are a smokin’ deal. For only 8 euros you can ride all day and get on and off anywhere it stops. It gives you a great feel for the layout and stops at all the major attractions. The upper deck is open air so on a nice day they can’t be beat. After just one rotation you feel like you have a pretty good idea where everything is and where you’d like to return.

Get on the bus Gus

Get on the bus Gus

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Banca de Espana

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Puerta del Sol

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Congreso de los Diputados

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Torres de Colon

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Torres de Colon

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Cervantes and Don Quixote

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Queen Isabella

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Santa María la Real de La Almudena

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El Palacio Real de Madrid

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El Palacio Real de Madrid

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El Palacio Real de Madrid

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The Metropolis Building

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We saw so much great art in Madrid it was overwelming. The three big hitters are the Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Reina Sofia. There’s a great discount pass online, The Paseo del Arte card, that includes all three and gives you a scheduled admission to the Prado, which means no waiting in line. There are also, at least, 50 smaller museums that are equally outstanding. You could spend a month here just looking at art.

Wendi was adament about going to the El Rastro street market, considered by many as the largest street market in Europe and it is huge. With an estimated 3500 market stalls it seems to stretch for miles down little streets and alleys. And it is packed tighter then a can of sardines. And hang onto your panties. I caught two different people trying to reach into my camera bag. I wasn’t particularly concerned as there wasn’t anything in it but an old map, still it’s a little disconcerting. That been said, we did have a great time. There is a lot of excitement and a million things to look at. I do have to offer one caveat though. Cheap t-shirts dominate. Like almost every street market we’ve been to, if China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Korea and Guatemala stop making cheap crap this place will be closed up tight in no time.

El Rastro Street Market

El Rastro Street Market

El Rastro Street Market

El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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Making friends at El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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The frame street at El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

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El Rastro Street Market

The Tabernas are pretty cool too. They’re a little like Spanish Sushi Bars in that the top of the bar is lined with all sorts of little dishes from olives to small open faced sandwiches that run from 1 to 5 euros each. The barman gives you a drink and you just point at what you want and they tally it up when you’re done. It’s affordable and great fun, very social with people coming and going and everyone talking at once.

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The girls at Taberna Txakolina on Calle Cava Baja

The Saturday we were in Madrid was the annual Gay Pride Parade and it dominated the entire museum district of the city. There were thousands of partiers in the streets from all over Europe. By 10am police were rerouting traffic, closing down major intersections and roundabouts for a 6pm parade. All the major fountains were turned off to keep overheated partiers out of them. The parade consisted of hundreds of LGBT groups and organizations from every city in Spain. Cross-dressers were turned into minor celebrities and graciously had their pictures taken with anyone who asked. The crowd had a ball.

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

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Gay Pride in Madrid

Wendi with Cher at the Gay pride parade in Madrid

Wendi with Cher at the Gay pride parade in Madrid