Palaces in Madrid

"Are we in a palace, Miss Cynthia?" I asked.

Palace Hotel, MadridIt had been a long nap for Perry Bear. Hours ago, we had been in London. Miss Cynthia had made a nice soft bed in the suitcase for William, Merri and me. The baby bears and I had settled down for a good sleep. We would nap while the airplane carried us to our next destination: Madrid, Spain.

Now the suitcase was open. I rubbed my eyes, blinked, then looked again. Sunlight glowed into a round room through a large domed ceiling. Marble columns ran from the floor to the dome. All around me were soft, bright sofas and chairs, trimmed in gold. "It must be a palace!" I repeated.

"Silly Perry," said Miss Cynthia, ruffling my fur. "It’s only our hotel in Madrid!" Miss Cynthia lifted me onto a beautiful chair in the center of the bright room. "Of course," she continued, "it a way, it is a palace. We are staying at the Palace Hotel. Now, be quiet! Don’t wake the babies!"

I looked around, eagerly. We were in Spain! I wanted to see all the exciting things I’d learned about. Would there be handsome Spanish bullfighters and dashing flamenco dancers?

As we carried the luggage up to our room, I practiced my Spanish phrases over and over in my head. To say, "Hello!" in Spain, I would say, "Hola!" "Please" would be "Por favor", and "Thank you!" was "Gracias!" I was glad that all my friends in the Tri-Cities had worked so hard to help me learn words in Spanish.

Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve unpacked quickly. We were all getting used to traveling. Everything had a place in our hotel room. Even the baby bears had learned. They knew that they had to play together safely and happily in their little black suitcase. With a quick kiss for the babies, we were off to explore Madrid for the first time.

Here we go! Doctor Steve hailed the very grand doorman. He had a tall hat and a fancy coat. "Taxi, por favor!" said Doctor Steve. The doorman waved his arm and whistled. Here came the taxicab!

On our first outing in Spain, we would visit the Palacio Real. "What’s the Palacio Real?" I asked Miss Cynthia. "Perry," she said, "we are going to visit a true palace: the house of the King of Spain!"

I watched from the taxi’s window as Miss Cynthia explained. Since 1975, Spain has been a constitutional monarchy. Spain has a king, but the Spanish people also vote and elect democratic representatives.

The people choose Spain’s Prime Minister. He is the head of the government, while the King is the symbolic ruler of the country. Today’s King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, is a strong supporter of democracy.

The Palacio Real is the official residence of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. While they live in another, more modest home most of the time, the Palacio Real is used for important state functions.

The narrow and winding streets of Madrid flew by my window. Tall houses lined each side of the street. "Look, Perry," said Miss Cynthia, "see how the houses are all white? They are whitewashed to reflect the sun. That makes them cooler inside. It can get very warm in Madrid!"

Miss Cynthia was right. Even in the middle of January, Madrid was sunny and warm. Sunshine bounced off orange tile roofs. Each house or building had many tall windows to catch the breeze. It would be good to feel the cool breeze inside a house in Madrid, I thought.

Our taxi pulled up before a large, open square. "We’re here!" said Doctor Steve. He paid the cab driver with Spanish money, called pesetas. Spanish bills were squarer than American dollars, and more brightly colored. Everything in Spain seemed cheerful, even the money.

King Felipe of Spain"Oh, look!" cried Miss Cynthia. We walked quickly to a tall, tall statue. "It is Felipe the Second," said Miss Cynthia, "One of Spain’s most powerful kings!" King Felipe ruled Spain during the last half of the 1500s, called the Age of Discovery. Spain’s mighty ships ruled the seas. Spanish explorers found many new lands. I looked carefully at the statue of such an important king.

I helped Doctor Steve buy tickets to tour the palace. "Dos!" he said, holding up two fingers. Teddy bears tour the palace for free! "Gracias!" I said. The ticket vendor, a man with a thick black mustache, smiled at me as we entered the palace grounds.

The Palacio Real sat on a hill overlooking much of Madrid. When I saw the palace itself, I caught my breath! It was big and beautiful, much too large for a little teddy bear to imagine. Miss Cynthia snapped my photograph in front of the long, long, building.

Perry visits the Palacio Real in Madrid

Soon, we traveled through the many rooms inside the palace. Doctor Steve enjoyed touring the pharmacy. Large storage jars lined the walls, all the way to the ceiling. Doctor Steve pointed out each old medical tool and device. Here, doctors for the royal family kept medical records and prepared medicines.

Miss Cynthia preferred the beautiful dining room. We stared at the long, long table. "Imagine, Perry, over 150 people can sit down to dinner at this one table!" she said.

Everyone gasped when we reached my favorite room: the throne room. The walls were covered with rich red velvet, decorated with silver embroidery. Tall gold-framed mirrors hung everywhere. I could see my reflection on three walls!

Two golden thrones stood on a raised platform. The marble statues of four lions guarded the thrones. I imagined myself, King Perry of the Bears, sitting on the throne. Could I take a ride on one of the lions? Even though they were only statues, they looked very fierce! I held more tightly to Miss Cynthia’s shoulder as we finished our tour.

All too soon, we were back in Madrid’s warm sunshine, standing in the palace courtyard. "Look!" said Miss Cynthia, "Look at the view of the city!"

Look at Madrid!We walked to arches framing the city view. The arches were fenced with iron gates that looked like little swords. I looked out over the sunny, sleepy city. Hills bore dusty green coverings. Miss Cynthia thought they might be olive trees. Orange and red tile roofs gave the view a bright air. Miss Cynthia looked and looked and looked.

Oh, no! Here came Doctor Steve. He was tired of looking at the view. He was going to tease poor little Perry Bear!

Miss Cynthia was still looking out over the city of Madrid. She hardly noticed as Doctor Steve took me from her arms. A few feet away, Doctor Steve looked back at Miss Cynthia and smiled his special "teasing" smile. "Let’s see if Perry would like to sit on a point!" he said. He lifted me up, then lowered me toward the sharp point of the sword fence.

Help! I don't want to sit on a point!"Help!" I called, "I don’t want to sit on a point!" I wriggled and squirmed to get away, just as Miss Cynthia ran to the rescue. No more looking at the view!

I rubbed my fur and frowned at Doctor Steve over Miss Cynthia’s shoulder. "Okay, you two," she scolded, "if teasing is going on, it’s time to return to the other palace!"

We walked back to the Palace Hotel in the bright afternoon sunshine. "Hola!" I said. "Buenos dias, Madrid!" As long as there weren’t any sharp points involved, I liked the Spanish city of Madrid!

Perry's Travels: