Our plan was to spend most of the final day in Chinchón, have a final lunch in the square and watch the excitement build towards the event before leaving for the airport. What we had reckoned with was that just before midday all of the entrance gates to the Plaza were suddenly closed shut and entry after that was strictly by ticket only. That was a bit of a disappointment because it wasn’t especially thrilling just hanging around outside so we sat and had a drink and without tickets to an event we couldn’t attend anyway, even if we had, we were forced to reassess the options available and then change our plans.
On our way to Toledo a couple of days before the town of Aranjuez looked as though it might be worth a visit and as it was more or less on the way back to Madrid we decided to go there and see the Royal Palace. We returned to the hotel and picked up the car and our bags and after negotiating our way out of the town made the thirty-minute drive to the World Heritage Site town.
It is hardly surprising that with forty-seven listed sites Italy has the most World Heritage Sites but for those who think of Spain as nothing more than a country of over developed costas with concrete condominiums, marinas and golf courses it might be a shock to learn that Spain has forty-four sites and is second highest in the exclusive list.
Each new trip to Spain includes visits to World Heritage Sites so when I count them up I am delighted to discover that out of the forty-four sites on the UNESCO list I have now been to twenty and that is nearly half of them.
When we arrived we were surprised at just how busy it was and there was limited parking space available and lots of people out for a walk. We stopped first at the royal gardens and walked inside to a sort of museum where the receptionist explained that there were no tours today but it didn’t matter because we were short of time and almost certainly wouldn’t have bothered anyway and then we moved the car a few hundred metres closer to the town and walked instead to see the Royal Palace. King Juan Carlos has eight Royal Palaces to choose from but I suspect he doesn’t stay at this one very often, most are close to Madrid and one is on the island of Mallorca.
We walked all the way around the grand white stone palace, some of the gardens and the natural weir on the River Tagus and we would have liked longer in this very pleasant little town because it would have been nice to have lunch here but we were ever mindful of the flight times and the one hour drive back to Madrid airport so reluctantly we left Aranjuez and made our way back.
At first this was quite straight-forward and we joined the motorway for the capital but as we got closer it became more and more confusing and I became convinced that the motorway system had been designed by someone with a perverse sense of humour because as we approached the airport it began to resemble the electrical wiring diagram for the space shuttle. Luckily there were always directions for the airport because without them we would surely have got hopelessly lost. We arrived back in plenty of time, returned the car to the man from the car hire company, went directly to the departure lounge and waited patiently for our flight home.
This had been my sixth visit to Spain in eighteen months and now that I have abandoned the costas for the countryside I cannot wait to return again.
Other posts about Royal Palaces: