November 22nd, 2022
Madrid, here I come & Arguelles - Malasana District
only time I’ve been to Madrid was in the
What do you really see of a place when you visit with school and barely
exit the bus? Exactly. So, I’m counting this as my first real visit to
the Spanish capital. Plus, it helps that there are direct flights from
Nantes. That can be quite a thing.
had to leave early this morning to get my flight. The plane was small,
with only two seats on either side of the alley, and all luggage went
into the cargo hold since there wasn't any space onboard. The flight was
short, and I think I might have napped. Once I got to Madrid, I got my
multi before grabbing a very non-Spanish lunch at Paul. Baguette with
After lunch, I was ready to hop on the metro and head to the hotel.
Before I could even scan the card, a couple stopped me. They turned out
to be Dutch and had 4 trips left on their card; they were leaving, they
offered it to me. I have a few extra trips now, though I don't think
I'll need them. Next trip.
metro works like the Tube in London so it's easy to find your way around
even if you've never been, though it helps when you know where you're
going. From the airport, I had to get to Principe Pio. From there, the
hotel is easy enough to find when you know it's in some weird hidden
alley that you normally wouldn't wander into.
isn't a hotel but rather a hostel, (they market it as a
It looks really eclectic and nice. I have my own room and bathroom. The
toilet is tiny, but the rain shower is amazing because WATER PRESSURE!!!
The entire common area is really nice and I already tested all the
couches. Oh, and it smells like freshly washed laundry. I like it.
didn't stick around the hotel too long, after all, it was only just
after 1PM and a museum I wanted to visit would close at 3 PM.
first stop was the Museo
It's a museum in an old house that used to belong to a Marquis
Honestly, it was impressive but if you really think about it, people
used to live there. How did they do it? It's a museum staged to
represent what it used to be like and you can't imagine anyone living
there comfortably. Although, that bathtub I could see myself lounging
the museum, a couple of blocks up, is something you might not expect
outside of LA. A Walk
Fame. Sure, it wasn't very long, not in the best of shapes, and I only
knew one person, but still. It's
cool to see.
second museum on the list was the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo.
As I don't really like modern art, this one was mostly on the list
because it was free and not too far. But when I got there, I learned I
had to wait half an hour until opening. That's too much for something I
do so I kept going. I was really enjoying the sun at this point. It
might be November 2nd but I left my sweater at the hotel. Climate
changing is bad in theory, we all know it, but it can be
third museum I had planned was the Casa de México. I think something
went wrong with my visit here. I paid
more than I was supposed to; I'm not sure if it was the exhibition or
just the museum in general, and while the museum was interesting,
especially with the
de Los Muertos stuff, not sure it was worth was I paid. Still, a museum
about Mexico is unique in my experiences and I enjoyed all the bright
colors. Mexican art is colorful and a little childish, I wish it displayed more in European museums!
The only bummer was the labeling of items was only in Spanish, meaning I
hardly understood the info, even though there wasn’t a lot to begin
went to the nearest Alcampo to get something to drink for in my room,
as well as a snack and, naturally I had to get some empanadas. It
couldn’t have been later than 3 PM but my planning for the day was done.
quick stop at
my only stop this holiday, where I got my You Are Here mug for Madrid
(as this is pretty heavy, this likely the only big thing I'll buy. You
know, how will it fit in my small bag?) before I grabbed a window seat
and sat there for a while, just people-watch. After that, I headed back
to an Asian
place I came across to get some dinner. It's on Google but the only way
to find it is to really zoom in on its location.
my dinner in the bag, I slowly made my way down Calle de la Princesa to
Plaza de Espańa. It’s a big square that is nothing like the impression
Google gave me. It’s not complicated to navigate at all since the roads
run underneath it. It’s also at the intersection of the two busiest
shopping streets and right next to the hotel.
dropped dinner off at the hotel and headed out again. There was one more
thing I wanted to do today since I had the time and that was the Templo
Madrid's Egyptian temple. It's a real Egyptian temple, gifted to Spain
by Egypt. I'm not sure why but it was nice to see. You can visit it but
since they only allow ten people at a time, the line was too long for my
temple is located in a park on a hill. I knew Madrid wasn't flat, I did,
but this was quite the climb. That does mean there was a nice view over
the royal palace and the Parque de Casa de Campo to the west. Beautiful
views and I'm hoping to take the cable car later in the week and enjoy
them some more. After that, I went back to the hotel. It was only 5 PM
but I was beat, and my knee started to hurt. Now I'm finishing my daily
report and I'm tempted to go to bed just really early.
Justice, Salamanca and
pretty well. Honestly, better than I expected. Sure, I woke up
half a dozen times but only for short moments.
Until Mom started liking my Facebook pictures from yesterday at 7AM (6AM
in Portugal), then there was no going back to
sleep. I spent an hour on Facebook and then went for breakfast.
It was a small
buffet but there was bread, tomato salsa and
for a typical Spanish breakfast. There were also churros that tasted
like butter toast! I loved them! And a pie of an undetermined flavor
that was pretty good. I was pretty much alone in the breakfast room
since I was so early.
At 9AM, I was out
the door and made my way to Principe Pio to take the metro to Tribunal.
The weather wasn't too great, it was even raining a little when I
of the metro
and I didn't bring an umbrella.
Luckily, today was a museum day
so at least I'd get to spend some time inside.
First was the
I really must still look like a student because these museums keep
me that; next time I'm going to say yes and pull out my
card! It was another house-turned-museum,
though this one
more dedicated to art.
Romanticism isn't my favorite style but it's not the worst either. I was
at the museum just after it opened so I had
the place to myself. That did
mean the security people moved through it with me, which keeps you on
your toes. It was a nice museum,
Next, not far
from the first, was the Museo de Historia de Madrid.
This was a free museum, and we like free stuff! Honestly, it's a
big collection. You get to see the
evolution of Madrid from the moment it became the capital in
1561, how different kings transformed it from medieval village to
emerging city for the rich and noble, giving it facelifts and eventually
really cleaning it up and making it a place for learning and art. While
it was all very interesting (as in, did you know fans were never really
made in Spain. One place did but most very imported. They did make their own
glass and porcelain, and it took forever before they established a
clock-making school), with a collection this big, you disconnect before
you get to the end. By the time Napolean showed up, I mostly breezed
through it. It
was like I had a coup de barre right there in the museum. All I wanted
was to sit and close my eyes.
next stop was the Mercado San Anton, where I knew there were things to
eat. I found La Barra del
pretty busy. That's always a good sign. Plus, I saw
on the menu outside the most interesting thing. Un
Not sure how to imagine
I ordered one with a coffee.
Maybe a strange combi but if you try
hard enough everything goes with coffee.
I saw some eggs benedict and other breakfasts food pass my table that
looked really good. But my sandwich? Basically, it was a small baguette
with mayo/mustered, strips of battered and fried
and a lemon slice. I would never have thought to put it on
but it worked. It was good!
Never one to sit for long, I was soon moving
again. On my way to the Museo
Nacional, I had found the
de Santa Barbara. It's a just
outside is gorgeous! The inside too but I didn't want to
disturb the people praying with the camera noises.
(MAN) is located at the back of the national library, which may or may
not also be a museum (I’ll figure it out next time).
It was very interesting, starting way back when humans started and
working their way up to Roman times. But like the museum about Madrid,
about halfway through, I was just done. I go in, reading all
the interesting plaques and then I'm just "ugh, I'm done".
Plus, the collection about Egypt and Greece were closed until nuevo
I think those two would have been interesting, after all, almost
everything in the souvenir
shop was related to it.
feet were starting to hurt again, and I just wanted to
sit with a
coffee somewhere. Which is easier said than done. It was 2PM at the
time, most places were servicing lunch and didn't look to be just
I kept going to Parque de
Retiro. With how nice the weather has been, not all park coffee places
have shut down for the winter yet so there was my coffee place, right at
the entrance, Casa Remigio. Honestly, if I had known the place had a
rating on Google,
I probably would have kept going and found a bench, after all, there
were plenty of them. Not going into detail about my coffee but let me
just say that the coffee and service weren't worth the 2.50€
Anyway, Parque de
Retiro is a big expansive park, well maintained, with wide avenues and
plenty of tourists. I felt completely at ease here (a similar park in
Brussels gave me completely different vibes). It was a shame the weather
wasn't better but at the time, the sky had started
clear, and I got in plenty of selfies at the lake. Even saw a rainbow!
there, I made my way to the oldest tree of Madrid, which is
and definitely worth the small detour on my way to the Palacio de
Cristal, which is a building entirely made of glass. It reminds
me of the greenhouses at Key Gardens in London. The exhibition inside
beyond me (I don't understand modern art) but the entrance was free so I
went to get some pictures on the inside.
After this, there was
still a few things on the planning. Which of them I was going to do
depended on the time, the weather and what other things I was doing. As
the skies were gray again, I decided not to do the botanical gardens. I
had planned to go to El Prado later (it's free after 6PM), so either first the
Mirador de Madrid or the Museo Naval. Considering it was just 4PM when I
got to either, I went up the Mirador (opens at 4PM).
don't think all that many tourists know this but
Cibeles, which also houses the
of Madrid and
several other things, has a lookout
on the 8th
floor. It barely cost anything, you take the elevator up to floor 6E and
then climb the last two to get pretty views over Madrid and Gran Via.
They work with 30-minute timeslots,
so you have half an hour at the top if you come right at the beginning
of a slot.
had to wait another hour and a half to get into
Prado for free,
so I went to find a place where I could get a
coffee, something to
to sit for a while.
I could only find
a Starbucks; I was happy
with that and went in.
I'll be honest, my coffee was more expensive than the one I had in the
park. However, I paid 2.50€ for
a simple cafe con leche. I paid 4.60€
for a toffee nut latte that was twice the size and tastier.
soon as I sat my ass down, ready to wait until 6PM, a little bird
invited itself to my table and was, like
really tempted to snatch the strawberry-and-cream muffin right out of
my hand. It was a cheeky little
El Prado... I didn't go to El Prado.
In the end, I didn’t want to wait so
long; it got dark and I was
done with my day. Instead, I took the bus and ended up
eating at Burger King, which was about as disappointing as the coffee in
might call it another early night tonight. But that's okay. Another busy
day tomorrow, though I'm starting later.
November 4th, 2022
It was another early morning though not quite as early. I was out the
door around 9AM,
but I didn't have to take the metro. I started in the Jardines Sabatini
to the side of the Palacio Real. I had hoped to
at least half an hour to an hour wandering but Google wasn't entirely
honest about their size. So, rather than spend my time here until my
10AM palace entrance ticket, I was done in maybe 10 minutes and walked
around a bit on the side of the palace and the front.
palace is massive. I think I read somewhere that it's the biggest in
Europe, or the largest numbers of rooms or something like that.
Considering I learned at the Museo de la Historia de Madrid yesterday
that the palace is smaller than they had originally wanted to build in
the 18th century due to lack of space, I'm curious to see how big the
original design was meant to be.
There were two lines waiting to go in before 10AM, one full of people
who didn't have tickets and one completely empty for people who already
had tickets. Well, I had a
ticket, so I just started a line. Normal, right? Apparently, a lot of
people had been waiting around for someone to do just that. Seriously,
why not start your own?
only get to visit a small part of the palace; the different rooms that
were part of the old King and Queen apartments, all in baroque and
style. You aren't allowed to take pictures in most rooms, which is a
shame, but it is still worth a visit. The banquet hall, in all its
over-the-top glory is still used as-is today. Some rooms had new
wallpaper with the initials of the current
king, so they are still as vain as those before them. As I was the first
one through the door with my ticket, I was the first one through most
rooms and it felt like I had the place almost to myself, like yesterday
with the first museum.
you exit the Palacio Real, the Catedral de la
is right across the square. The information I had found about this
wasn't entirely clear or
correct. I had read it was free to visit and that you could go up to the
dome. Here's the truth; to go up to the dome, you
pay 7euro, but the cathedral itself is free to visit. But I like
climbing church domes *cough* Saint Paul's *cough*, so I got my ticket
and climbed the stairs. You also get to visit a museum about the
but I wasn't interested at all. Doesn't mean I didn't read that the
cathedral wasn't built until the end of the last century. Inaugurated by
the Pope in 1993, I believe. It explains the lack of classical church
out of the cathedral, I went for coffee at La Carmen, right across it
(it's not on Google yet so I'm not sure how long it's been there). I had
a coffee and a tostada con
The tostada had a big helping of cream cheese and some turkey on top.
Just the single slice but it was exactly what I needed to get going
then down the road for a quick look at the Real Basilica de San
Grand. No, I didn't go in, that wasn't the plan. The plan was to grab
lunch at the Mercado de la Cebada. Well, that didn't happen. Almost
everything was closed. Even the surrounding restaurants didn't grab my
attention. But because I had just had my tostado con
I wasn't hungry.
far from the Mercado is the Museo de San Isidro. It tells part of the
history about Madrid and was yet another free museum. While a lot of it
was just a repetition of what I saw yesterday at the MAN, it's a nice
little museum to walk through. It didn't help that there were two
teenaged classes in there with me at the same time, but they weren't at
all interested and rushed through it even faster than I did.
Through a few narrow streets, I made my way to the Plaza de la Villa. It
was a small but clean square with a few guided tour groups, who had
stopped there. I haven't planned on any guided tours (aside from my day
trip tomorrow) so I have really no idea what's so historically
interesting about the square.
Through another narrow street, I ended up at the extremely busy Mercado
de San Miguel. I think it was so busy both because it's a foodie tourist
attraction and it was lunch hour. I had written down a few options I
wanted to try but it was so busy (and way more expensive than I had
originally budgeted for) I only got one thing: fried octopus tentacles!
time I see them in a Spanish supermarket but they are so expensive.
Well, they were ridiculously expensive here
too, but I have finally had some. They were a little chewy but still
good. They taste like the rest of the calamari.
last stop I had planned for the day was the Plaza Mayor, Madrid's big
main square. A little like the Grote Markt in Brussels. Just as busy
too. There were tourists everywhere and the square is lined with
their terrasses, and tourist
shops but surprisingly few guided tour groups. I saw those again once I
left the square.
said, this was the last part of my planned day. I hadn't expected it to
be only 1PM and I was a little lost. I decided to follow the tourist
streets, see if I could find some souvenir shops for a magnet and a
postcard. I found one of each that I'm more than happy with so those
have been packed away. After a quick visit to the
I had spotted the day before
(where I bought
because I don’t have space in my bag), I got on the
bus and headed back to my hotel.
Because it's a waste of my vacation to spend my afternoon at the hotel,
I was heading out again half an hour later. Because I didn't have
anything else planned, I figured I'd check out the Templo de
the Egyptian temple not far from the hotel. The line was
as long as
it was the other
but I joined it anyway. Was the temple worth the hour and a half I
waited to get in (they only allow groups of ten at a time)? No. No, it
was not. Thank God the entrance was free otherwise I would have been
seriously annoyed. There is an explanatory video in Spanish and a few
other pieces that are interesting to see, but that was it. So, I can say
it, but I
wouldn't recommend it.
was almost dinner time
by the time I finished.
I headed to The Good Burger. It's like Burger King and McDonalds but
cheaper. I had TGB burger and the cheese-and-jalapeno bites. It was
than Burger King.
cooked burger, good toppings and a bun branched with the TGB logo.
I'm so glad I had it! And the cheese bites were nice and spicy too, but
I had to take them to-go since the burger left me stuffed.
my way back to the hotel, I decided there was still time and I still
felt capable of adding
Prado to my day. A quick stop at the hotel to drop of my cheese bites
and I was off again. While on the bus, I imagined
how I would write that I had been wrong yesterday and I had been to one
of the big three museums.
Well, my impulsive adventure finished as abruptly as it started. When I
Prado (which was again free tonight), I was stunned at the couple
hundred people standing in line to get in. Like, so many people!! That
wasn't worth it to
me, so I turned around and went straight back to the bus stop.
did get to see Madrid in the dark and it's still very busy. Shops close
at 8PM in most cases so really, sunset doesn't stop anyone but me. I'm
glad to be back at the hotel, give my feet and my knee some rest before
the busy day of tomorrow.
November 5th, 2022
Day trip day
Today was the day I was going to leave Madrid for my visits. I had a day
trip booked with Fun and Tickets for visits to Avila and Segovia.
Because I had to be at the meeting point half an hour before departure,
and because it takes a good twenty minutes walk from the hotel, I
skipped breakfast at the hotel (it's not served before 8AM). Instead, I
got something at McDonalds near the meeting point. Well, I have bad
memories of the Egg McMuffin from way back when they were first on the
menu in Florida (and I imagine they have gotten better since then), so I
had something else. A tostada de Ibérico (a bun with the tomato puree
they eat for breakfast with Iberian ham) and a mint tea. Honestly, it
was really good and didn't even cost 3euro, making it a good option in
case a hotel doesn't offer breakfast.
While waiting for the tour to
take off, it was cold. Even more so since we were waiting in the shade.
And you'd think it'd be nice and warm once we finally got on the bus...
no. Just no. It was freaking cold (I later learned that in Spanish, the
heat/airco isn't allowed to be on if the bus isn't on) and I swear my
toes almost froze off!
And what a big bus! I have
done a day trip in Edinburgh, and while I'm trying to remember of
another organized trip, I'm coming up empty. Anyway, that excursion was
with a small group. This was nothing like that. A double-decker bus
picked us up, giving me the first clue about the size. Later, I learned
the English and Spanish group were 83 people. That's a big bus full. I
wasn't sure what that was going to be like during the day.
The next surprise was the
little receiver they passed out. While the guides have the transmitter
and a mike, we have a receiver and headphones. Basically, it so that
they can talk and we can listen even if we aren't right next to them.
So, I was officially part of a big follow-the-flag group. Yay, for that.
However, the receiver are a way for them to split up the group into a
more manageable size.
Both Avila and Segovia are in
the region of Castel y Leon, and are each the capital of a province in
that region. Madrid has a population of 3.5 million and the region of
Madrid (Communidad de Madrid) of about 7 million (Madrid included),
making it the most populated region of Spain. Castel y Leon has about
2.2 million people across nine provinces. Avila has a population of 57
000 and is the highest capital in Spain. Segovia has a population of 52
Avila was the first stop of
the day. By the time the city came into view, my toes were frozen and I
was glad I had worn both my sweater and my coat. The first real stop,
was a gas station and a mirador right before the town. While everyone
that got off the bus went straight for the little rest area for a coffee
and the bathroom, I went straight for the mirador. And the big group of
bikers that had gathered there. They were as eager as me to take
pictures and have their picture taken, haha. The view of the old city
walls was great and I got my picture with the AVILA sign (still can't
believe that's no sign on Ile de Ré).
From there, we drove into
town and set off in our two separate groups. It quickly became clear
that these big guided tours aren't by thing. As we headed into the
Basilica de San Vicente de Avila, I did learn the difference between a
basicilic and a cathedral (basilic is build on the place where a saint
was martyred and a cathedral employs a bishop), I also realized that our
guides were going to only focus on parts of a place. Like, why pretend
to take us to the crypt only to walk us right passed? Also, the speed of
walking was too slow for me. As we passed the outside of the wall, the
cathedral and eventually into the old town, I was sometimes walking in
front because I didn't want any slowpoke in front, or somewhere far
behind and nowhere near the guide because I was taking pictures. The
plus side of the headphone-receiver combo: no need to be near the guide
to hear what he's saying.
We passed the city walls,
which are still entirely intact and I learned it's far cheaper to buy a
house inside the old city than the new. Yes, that's right, the old stuff
is cheaper. And you know why? Because the upkeep is expensive and there
is a lot of regulation. Makes sense. But I still know what I'd go for...
We got to see from pretty views and some interesting
gates/palaces. In medieval Avila, the gates would shut at night for
protection reasons. However, the nobility didn't really like this and so
they found a way around it. Basically, they would build their palaces as
part of the wall, with an easy way out on the outside of the wall. And
so was born the expression "when one gate shuts, another opens."
Another expression I learned
is "Lo que no mata, engorda." What doesn't kill you makes you fat, which
seems about right. This is with regards to local food. Something about
the meat specialties from the region as well as a dessert from the city
called yema. It's basically eggyolks held together with sugar. And
nothing else. Naturally, I bought a box with 12 little goodies, though I
haven't tried them yet. Having done my thesis on local food, I couldn't
not get this.
We couldn't go into the
Iglesia de Santa Teresa de Jesus because they had a mass going on, but
we went into the small side museum with some of her relics, including a
mummified finger, which you definitely don't get to see every day. It's
something special, alright. From there, to the Plaza Mayor and the Gran
Via of Avila (or Oxford Street, depending on your frame of reference).
We stopped in front of the cathedral but aside from the basilica, we
didn't actually go in anywhere.
Out guided walk finished in a
restaurant for a tortilla espanol and something to drink (this was all
part of the ticket). After that, we were given half an hour for lunch or
walking around and that was no time at all. I had time to get my yemas
and do a quick visit of the city walls but it all felt rushed. I didn't
even have the time to go postcard shopping before I had to get back to
From Avila, it's about an
hour driving to Segovia, there was more to visit here. The bus dropped
us off at a parking spot outside of town and we walked up to the Alcazar
(which is an Arab word that means fortress in the wall or something like
Here, we had a guide from the castle itself take us through a
selection of the rooms. While the visit was interesting, I realized we
were only doing half the castle, which kind of annoyed me.
difference between a tour with entry tickets included and without is
26euro, but I calculated: the entrances we did cost, if you for them
yourself, 12euro. Where does the rest of the money go? Because, let me
remind you, I don't like guided walks. Just drop me off and set me free.
The visit we did of the
Segovia Cathedral was more than enough. I felt we got more information
than in the morning (different guide, who was easier to understand in
English) and it was a beautiful cathedral. Segovia is the second-largest
cathedral in the Spain and the fourth-largest in the world (no, the
Segrada familial is not the largest: 1. it's not a cathedral and 2. it's
not even finished. Cordoba is the biggest).
Once we left the cathedral
and made our way to the aqueduct, I learned a few more interesting
things. One savory local food speciality that I would love to try is a
suckling pig! One sweet local food speciality that I would love to try
is the ponche the Segovia. While the pig is served whole so you need to
be five or six for it, I have a piece of ponche waiting for me to test
(I never neither spoon nor fork to eat it with so we will try it
Another tidbit of local history that I picked up is a legend. Once there were two men who
were in love with the same woman. Obviously, they fought for her. I
missed part of the story so I don't know why or how she got pregnant but
she died while still pregnant. Then, during the night following her
death, there was a big earthquake and the next morning, they saw the
silhouette of the pregnant woman in the mountain range. It's really
interesting because once you know where you have to look, you do see the
Finally, we reached the
aqueduct, which is actually a wrong way of looking at it. We reached the
arches of the aqueduct, which only make up 800m of the 16km aquaduct. It
starts in the mountains and eventually disappears underground and you
can follow it by this brass plaques on the road. It's interesting and
the arches are definitely impressive. There, we were given another half
hour of free time and then back on the bus.
Honestly, half an hour is
nothing and I was running from left to right, taking pictures, finding
something to eat, finding souvenirs, finding coffee and finding some
ponche para llevar. So, I took the pictures, I did not find something to
eat, I got a postcard which was really all I wanted and I got a ponche
and coffee para llevar at the same place. I even got another fried dough
dessert that I forgot the name off. And I haven't tried any of the
sweets I bought yet. Not sure how that happened.
The drive back to Madrid is
pretty long but once there, I just wanted to get dinner and head back to
the hotel. I got fried chicken at Popeyes'. It's like KFC but cheaper
and I have to admit it's better too. The three chicken pieces and the
nuggets were big and moist and had deliciously fried skin. To finish it
off, in the same building, was a Timmy's! I haven't been to one of those
since I was in Canada and it was mostly a nostalgic visit. While I don't
mind Starbucks, especially compared to some other family members,
Timmy's is definitely cheaper. It has a smaller menu, which makes it
easier for me to choose something. I got the French vanilla, though I'm
still not entirely sure if it was coffee, moccha or something else. But
it was good so I'm going to get another one tomorrow.
It was a long day but
tomorrow is going to be quieter as I don't have much planned aside from
the Flamenco dinner. I think I'm going to start with the coffee and two
donuts special at the station I saw the other day, haha!
November 6th, 2022
Last day is whatever day!
As soon as I wrote that I was going to start the day
with coffee and donuts at the station, I knew that wasn't going to
happen. Why? Because I basically stuff myself at breakfast.
They had apple cake this morning, which was also delicious.
Today was the latest I've headed out because today's planning wasn't
full of must-visits. In fact, today was a compilation of things I hadn't
been able to fit in elsewhere and none of it was a must. Except for the
flamenco dinner that would finish the day - and the trip.
as I left, I headed toward the Templo de
the park with the idea of going to the
Faro. I also wanted to take the
across the river and then
back, but it wouldn't open until 11AM. Naturally, I made it as far as
noticed the logo of Madrid public transport and realized I didn't have
my mask (which is still mandatory in public transport) so I headed
straight back to the hotel. Thank
God, I hadn't made
it all the way to the Faro yet.
I had my mask in the pocket, I went back to the park again. By then, it
was past 10AM and the
was open. Considering the weather we've had this fall despite the chilly
mornings, I thought it might still be nice to visit and so I went down
the stairs. I was right, the roses were still beautiful. Sure, some of
them were preparing for winter, but most were still pretty like they are
in summer. I spent a good 45 minutes there, enjoying the flowers and the
sunshine until the first
shot by overhead, then I started making my way to the
return ticket only cost 6€.
I had a car
to myself and
flew across part of the city and to the massive park on the other side
of the river. It's a huge park and I think the monarchs used to hunt
there. Nowadays, you find a lot of hiking paths, mountain bike paths, a
lake and even a theme park right at the edge. As the cable
car takes you across, you get to see the royal palace and the cathedral
and eventually all of Madrid's skyline.
stepped into a Café y
- this is apparently a chain
store but I didn't
start noticing them until I had been into that first one. I got a frappé
and it tasted as delicious as it looked. The question,
once the frappé was gone, was whether
I was going to walk to the Faro and the Arch de
(nothing Roman about this one, Franco had it build for the victory of
his troops. It's a bit of controversial art.) or was I going to do
Something else, of course.
followed the Calle Princessa until it turned into Gran Via, where I
I might go to
Lefties. I only wore leggings during this trip, and it's ridiculously
comfortable, but the downside is that there aren't any pockets for my
jacket the entire time so that was fine, but the moment I took it off,
it became annoying. And I remembered seeing a pretty legging at Lefties
Naturally, they didn't have it anymore. I went to Primark next door,
which is in this huge building with 4 floors. Honestly, it's a beautiful
building but, as always, it's incredibly busy and messy. Not to mention
there aren't that many
But no leggings with pockets so I'll probably have to find one at
that point, I wasn't far from the restaurant where I had my flamenco
show dinner so I decided to see if I could find it, and then I just
explored a little, walking down streets and trying to find a specific
princess in her wide dress). Before I found anything
else, I noticed this
long line that went around the corner, down the street and around the
corner again. Well, I solved the mystery. Lottery tickets. There were a
dozen sellers outside the offices and for some reason, everyone wanted a
ticket. How big is this jackpot?
found a bunch of bracelets at the nearest souvenir shop. But no matter
how many stores I went into, I didn't find the
silhouette as a magnet. I saw her as keychain but nothing else. Too bad.
lunch, I grabbed a
and a stick de queso near the Plaza Mayor. The square was as
busy as two days ago. I wandered through a few more streets to find
Timmy's and get a coffee before I headed back to the hotel.
left an hour and a half before my dinner show and walked around the city
some more. I wanted to pick up two more bracelets to go with the first
two (they remind me a little of the Navajo bracelets) and I figured I
might as well continue my
princess magnet search. And guess what? I found her! Not exactly as I
would have wanted but hey, I'll take what I can get.
this flamenco dinner show... I wasn't entirely sure what to expect,
mainly because I didn't have any
of what Flamenco is, aside from the traditional dress and "Olé!". Well,
I wasn't prepared. As I got to Torres
I couldn't just walk in and grab a seat. You are taken to a table that's
already prepared for you according to what you ordered (tapas,
dinner or nothing).
People were still arriving when my
tapas were already served. On the plate were a slice of tortilla, two
calamari rings, a cheese croquette, a ham croquette, a chicken
and a tostada con jamon. In all honesty, I wasn't impressed. While the
ham was delicious, the
perfectly cooked, and the cheese croquette a pleasantly surprising, the
tortilla was only
the ham croquette was too puree-y, and the chicken nugget... well, it
was a chicken nugget.
it turned out, there was a second course. While it was something as
simple as a plate of paella, this was the first time I'd had paella in
Spain. And it was delish! Then I learned there was also a dessert.
it was a type of flan with chocolate but it tasted very eggy. Still, I
didn't expect to get so much to eat!
the show, well, I wasn't ready. Not at all. Five people came onto
four men and a woman. One man had a
and another sat in front of a microphone. During my Segovia visit
yesterday, the guide mentioned that a Flamenco dance is accompanied by
singing. The other three were dancers. One looked more like a matador
than a dancer but what do I know.
during the short "introductory" dances, it quickly became clear that I
was not prepared.
The noise of this dance. What the hell? How is it not public knowledge
Flamenco dances rely as much on the clacking of the heels as Irish
dances do? It's not at all the same though. The rhythm and the music are
entirely different. The dance has a slow build-up and an explosive
ending. And because of the loud explosiveness of some parts, it might
even feel more aggressive though not necessarily in a negative way.
was glad I wasn't sitting in the front row because I wasn't in the
splash zone. I couldn't tell if it was sweat or if the men had wet their
hair before coming on, but yeah, splash zone. The whole experience was
and I would
it again if I were to come back. Probably in the same place, though I'd
get just the show and a drink this time, considering I was disappointed
in the food.
After the show, I went back to the hotel and packed my things. Tomorrow,
my transfer is picking me up at 5AM and that's no joke. It will be cold
and dark out, still.
really enjoyed my trip to Madrid. It's a beautiful and lively city. It's
also clean (I've seen them hosing down the streets in the morning and
just making sure the streets are tidy) and I've felt completely safe.
Even walking around at night, I didn't feel uncomfortable.
Adios, Madrid. Hasta la