Home Assault in Aranjuez
  
 
 
 
Site Menu
Home
About Us
MagBazPictures
What is New in 2017
What was New in 2016
Countries Articles (879)
Current Travel Log
Cycling Articles (98)
Fellow Travellers (78)
Logs & Newsletters (169)
Looking Out 2016
Motorhome Insurers (33)
Motorhoming Articles (120)
Photographs
Ramblings (48)
Readers' Comments (770)
Travellers' Websites (42)
Useful Links (64)
Search the Website
Contact Us

Photos
Assault in Aranjuez PDF Printable Version E-mail


Assault in Aranjuez

Barry and Margaret Williamson
February 2013

Note

A number of readers have expressed surprise that there is a formal complaints procedure in place throughout Spain. Click: Here's the Full Explanation from British Expats in Spain. They know about these things!

You can also Click: Download a Copy of the Complaint Form (Hoja de Reclamaction). The form is in Spanish but with enough English to be usable by a non-Spanish speaker.

Introduction 

On our way west6[1][2].jpg through Spain, we paused for a few days on the excellent Camping International Aranjuez. The town of only 55,000 inhabitants (about the size of Scunthorpe, the standard by which we measure other towns), is known mainly as the riverside site of an enormous Royal Palace (modelled on Versailles) and its extremely extensive parkland. We won't bore you, or ourselves, with any history of the monarchy in Spain; we only notice that over many centuries they have built many palaces throughout the country, all with large grounds and other facilities. Perhaps they date from the days of Spain's colonisation of Central and South America.

Among these grounds in Aranjuez is the 'Prince's Garden'.7[1][2].jpg This park is about 2 miles long and about a third of a mile across, large enough to have its own palace within: the Casa del Labrador (the dog's home?) as well as a museum of royal barges by the River Tajo. We saw many walkers and joggers enjoying the peace and space of the gardens, which lay just across the river from our campsite pitch. Not far away the river is crossed by the Castillo footbridge, with steps and a ramp suitable for bicycles, prams and wheelchairs. The bridge is also the shortest and safest route into town and the campsite reception (which hires bicycles) indicated that the riverside path in the park would be a great place to ride. So we did!

This simple act led to the following story which, not least, helped to add to what we knew of the Spanish character.

The events are as described on the Hoja de Reclamacion, the Offical Complaint Form which we subsequently delivered to the Tourist Office in Aranjuez and to the Royal Palace.

Summary

At about 1500Copy_of_4.JPG hrs on Wednesday 20 February 2013, my wife and I cycled from Camping Internacional into Aranjuez, over the Castillo footbridge and through the Jardin del Principe. At the 'Puerta del Embarcadero' a female gate-keeper indicated cycling was not allowed. We dismounted and walked with our bicycles. The male gate-keeper blew his whistle, shouted loudly and pointed to a picture banning the riding of bicycles. When we protested he took hold of my arm and handlebars and pushed me roughly towards the gate. His female colleague restrained him from further assault. We reported this attack to the Tourist Office, got a complaint form and returned to ask the gate-keeper for his name. Refusing to give it, he became very angry and abusive to my wife (see photos).

Further Details of Complaint concerning Assault by Employee at the Puerta del Embarcadero in the Jardin del Principe in Aranjuez on 20 February 2013

The Aranjuez Tourist Office staff have a leaflet 'Aranjuez: The 12 Streets Route', describin2[1][2].jpgg local cycling routes. Nowhere does it indicate that cycling through the Jardin del Principe is prohibited. On the contrary, the Castillo footbridge over which we entered the gardens is marked on the map at number 2, with the description “The Castillo Bridge (Puente del Castillo) allows you to cross over to the Prince's Garden (Jardin del Principe) next to the Royal Vessels Museum (Museo de Reales Faluas).” That is exactly what we had done.

The Aranjuez Tourist Office in Aranjuez later advised that walking with a bicycle was allowed in the 'Jardin del Principe'. They gave my wife one copy of this Complaint Form and expected her to complete it immediately. We preferred to read the Instructions and fill it in properly. We later found we needed three copies of the form which we had to print from the website.

After leaving the Tourist Office we returned to the 'Puerta del Embarcadero' with the Complaint Form, where the gate-keeper angrily refused to give my wife his name (see photo) or allow us to walk our bicycles back through the gardens. To reach the campsite we must either join the busy traffic on the main road over the Barcas Bridge or cycle along the Calle de la Reina, bordering but outside the gardens, to the next bridge and follow tracks back to the camp, which was much further. This we did, for safety.

At the second 1[1][2][3].jpggate into the 'Jardin del Principe', the 'Puerta de la Plaza Redonda', the signs only prohibited motorbikes and unauthorised vehicles (see photo). But again, the gate-keeper would not let us enter, to walk through pushing our cycles. A bicycle is not a motorbike, it is not a car and it is not a vehicle. It does not have an engine. It causes no pollution. When pushed along, how does it differ from a wheelchair, pushchair, pram or child's scooter? Are they also banned? What about the Chiquitren?

The rules are vague and force should not be used to stop people from cycling or walking their bicycles through extensive park land with empty paths. Aranjuez lives on tourism and should be doing all it can to encourage visitors to cycle in a safe green environment. Both the Tourist Office and the campsite hire bicycles – and their cycling leaflet does not mention the ban.

The only reason the Tourist Office gave for the exclusion of bicycles was that the royal gardens are part 3[1][2].jpgof a World Heritage Site. We have cycled round many other such sites, around the world, and damaged none of them. We have travelled around the world three times and cycled in every European country. We have also cycled across the USA (twice), across Australia and the length of New Zealand (twice).

In summary,4[1][2].jpg my main complaint is about the physical assault by the gate-keeper on myself and his rudeness and aggression towards my wife, Margaret. This was quite unnecessary as we had already dismounted. He was so threatening that we would have called the Police if we had been in France or Germany, where we speak the language, but we could not imagine this happening in those cycle-friendly countries. Indeed, in many European countries there would be bicycles for hire at the gate itself and the two staff could be gainfully employed supervising their use. What is the point of their present employment other than to deny entry?

Furthermore, the signs we saw, and the opinion of the Tourist Office, indicate that walking with a bicycle in the gardens is not prohibited.

We saw no other bicycles anywhere in Aranjuez, although the local council is trying to encourage their use as part of the Europe-wide 'Smiles Project'. The council writes:

'They will develop improvements in the public bicycle service “ARANBIKE”: Aranjuez City Council will carry out regular maintenance of public bicycles, so all users could use it without any problem or inconvenience.

They will carry out improvements in walking and cycling paths, in order to adapt them to the special requirements of disabled people, using wheelchairs.

They will show special interest in the adaptation, use and integration of green areas into the urban mobility system, due to the large number of hectares existing in the city.

They will develop promotional campaigns, aiming to encourage both local residents and tourists to go for a walk or a bike ride in the City'.

(http://www.smilesproject.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=73&Itemid=73)

We believed all that until we met the gate-keeper of the Puerta del Embarcadero.

Barry and Margaret Williamson
Aranjuez
21 February 2013

6[1][2].jpg
In Aranjuez: the facade of the Royal Palace
7[1][2].jpg
The view from our pitch: the Prince's Garden seen across the River Tajo
3[1][2].jpg
Margaret walks her bicycle; aggressive gate-keeper approaches menacingly
2[1][2].jpg
Modest female gate-keeper also refused to be named or recognised
1[1][2][3].jpg
Notice on second gate clearly shows a motorcycle and the word 'vehiculos'
4[1][2].jpg
Gate-keeper refused to give his name as Margaret shows him the Complaint Form
Copy_of_4.JPG
It is a legal requirement in Spain that Complaint Forms are available everywhere and
every assistance should be given for their completion!