Madrid 2022 

By Emma

Madrid, baby!

November 22nd, 2022
Madrid, here I come & Arguelles - Malasana District
The only time I’ve been to Madrid was in the
collčge. 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.

I 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 tarjeta multi before grabbing a very non-Spanish lunch at Paul. Baguette with salmon.

    

    

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.

The 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. LaNave isn't a hotel but rather a hostel, (they market it as a poshtel). 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.

    

I 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.

    

The first stop was the Museo Cerralbo. It's a museum in an old house that used to belong to a Marquis Cerralbo. 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 in!

    

    

    

    

    

From the museum, a couple of blocks up, is something you might not expect outside of LA. A Walk Of Fame. Sure, it wasn't very long, not in the best of shapes, and I only knew one person, but still. It's kinda cool to see.

    

 

    

The 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 didn't have to 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 kinda nice.

    

    

The third museum I had planned was the Casa de México. I think something went wrong with my visit here. I paid waaaaaay 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 Dia 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 with.

    

    

    

    

    

    

    

I 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. 

A quick stop at Starbucks, 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 wok 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.

With 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.

    

I 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 de Debod, 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 liking.

    

    

The 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.

    

November 3rd, 2022
Justice, Salamanca and
Retiro

I slept 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 jamón iberico 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 stepped out of the metro station, 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 Museo del Romanticismo. I really must still look like a student because these museums keep asking me that; next time I'm going to say yes and pull out my Uvic 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, definitely worth the 3€.

 

    

 

    

 

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.

 

    

 

 

My next stop was the Mercado San Anton, where I knew there were things to eat. I found La Barra del Comercial, which was pretty busy. That's always a good sign. Plus, I saw on the menu outside the most interesting thing. Un bocadillo de calamares. Not sure how to imagine that I ordered one with a coffee. Maybe a strange combi but if you try hard enough everything goes with coffee.

 

    

 

    

 

As I waited, 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 calamares and a lemon slice. I would never have thought to put it on bread, but it worked. It was good!

 

    

 

Never one to sit for long, I was soon moving again. On my way to the Museo Arqueologico Nacional, I had found the Parroquia de Santa Barbara. It's a just church but the outside is gorgeous! The inside too but I didn't want to disturb the people praying with the camera noises.

 

    

 

    

 

The Museo Arqueologico Nacional (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 orden. I think those two would have been interesting, after all, almost everything in the souvenir shop was related to it.

 

 

My 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 serving coffee. I kept going to Parque de el 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 2.1 star 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€ I paid.

 

Anyway, Parque de el 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 to (temporarily) clear, and I got in plenty of selfies at the lake. Even saw a rainbow!

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

From there, I made my way to the oldest tree of Madrid, which is really big 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 was 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).

 

I don't think all that many tourists know this but el Palacio de Cibeles, which also houses the mairie 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.

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

I had to wait another hour and a half to get into el Prado for free, so I went to find a place where I could get a coffee, something to schnebbel and 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.

 

As soon as I sat my ass down, ready to wait until 6PM, a little bird invited itself to my table and was, like Grummelke, really tempted to snatch the strawberry-and-cream muffin right out of my hand. It was a cheeky little bugger!

 

    

 

So, 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 the park.

 

I might call it another early night tonight. But that's okay. Another busy day tomorrow, though I'm starting later.

 

November 4th, 2022
Centro District

It was another early morning though not quite as early. I was out the door around 9A
M, 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 spend 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.

 

    

 

    

 

The 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?

You 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 rococo 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 or previous 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.

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

When you exit the Palacio Real, the Catedral de la Almundena 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 have to 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 cathedral, 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 art.

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

Once 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 pavo. 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 again.

 

    

 

I crossed the Viaducto de Segovia, then down the road for a quick look at the Real Basilica de San Francisco el 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 pavo, I wasn't hungry.

 

    

 

 

Not 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! I eye these every 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.

 

 

    

 

The 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 restaurants, their terrasses, and tourist shops but surprisingly few guided tour groups. I saw those again once I left the square.

 

    

 

 

    

 

As I 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 bookshop I had spotted the day before (where I bought nothing 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 Debod, the Egyptian temple not far from the hotel. The line was as long as it was the other afternoon, 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 I did it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

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 sooooo much better than Burger King. Perfectly 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.

 

 

On my way back to the hotel, I decided there was still time and I still felt capable of adding el 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 got to el 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.

I 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 day trip day. I booked with "Fun and Tickets" to visit 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 to 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. I have bad memories of the Egg McMuffin from way back when they were first on the menu in Florida, 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.

 

    

 

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 Spain, the heat/airco isn't allowed to be on if the bus isn't driving) and I swear my toes almost froze off!

 

And what a big bus! I thought it’d be a small group trip. Nope, it 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 handed out. While the guides have the transmitter and a mike, we have a receiver and headphones. Basically, it’s so 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 is 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 (above sea level). Segovia has a population of 52,000.

 

AVILA

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 stop was a gas station and a mirador right before the town. While everyone got off the bus to go 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, ha ha. 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 these big, guided tours aren't my thing. As we headed into the Basilica de San Vicente de Avila, I did learn the difference between a basilica and a cathedral (basilica is built 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 a 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 in 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... I think. 

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

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 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 using lots of fat, as well as a dessert from the city called yema. It's basically egg yolks 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.

 

EDIT: I finally tried them when I got home and didn’t like them. For me, they were too eggy (makes sense if it’s only egg yolk and sugar). But the others liked them a lot more and finished them.

 

 

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. 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.

 

    

 

    

 

 

    

 

    

 

Our guided walk finished in a restaurant for a tortilla espańol and something to drink (this was included in the ticket). After that, we were given half an hour for lunch or walking around and that is 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 the bus.

 

    

 

 

    

 

SEGOVIA

From Avila, it's about an hour driving to Segovia. 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 that).  

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

Here, we had a guide from the castle itself to 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.

 

    

 

    

 

The difference between a tour with entry tickets included and without is 26€, but I calculated: the entrances cost, if you for them yourself, 12€. 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 has 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 specialty that I would love to try is a suckling pig! One sweet local food specialty that I would love to try is the ponche de 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 have neither spoon nor fork to eat it with so we will try it tomorrow).

 

 

    

 

Another tidbit of local history 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 interesting because once you know where to look, you do see the silhouette.

 

 

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 aqueduct. 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 de Segovia para llevar". So, I took the pictures, I did not find something to eat, I got a postcard, and I got a ponche and coffee "para llevar". I even got another fried dough dessert that I forgot the name off (florones, which is an Easter specialty of the region). 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. I got the French vanilla, though I'm still not entirely sure if it was coffee, mocha 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.

 

So, as I left, I headed toward the Templo de Debod, and followed the park with the idea of going to the Faro. I also wanted to take the Teleferico across the river and then back, but it wouldn't open until 11AM. Naturally, I made it as far as the Teleferico, 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.

 

 

    

 

Once I had my mask in the pocket, I went back to the park again. By then, it was past 10AM and the rosaleda 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 cable car shot by overhead, then I started making my way to the teleferico.

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

A 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.

 

    

 

    

 

 

I 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 mocca, 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 Triomph (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?

Something else, of course.

 

 

I followed the Calle Princessa until it turned into Gran Via, where I thought 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 phone. I wore my Uvic 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 in Ondara. 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 cajas. But no leggings with pockets so I'll probably have to find one at Decathlon.

 

    

 

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 magnet (the princess in her wide dress). Before I found anything else, I noticed this ridiculously 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?

 

I found a bunch of bracelets at the nearest souvenir shop. But no matter how many stores I went into, I didn't find the princess silhouette as a magnet. I saw her as keychain but nothing else. Too bad.

 

For lunch, I grabbed a bocadillo con jamon iberico 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.

 

    

 

    

 

I 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.

 

    

 

    

 

Now, this flamenco dinner show... I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, mainly because I didn't have any particular idea of what Flamenco is, aside from the traditional dress and "Olé!". Well, I wasn't prepared. As I got to Torres Bermejas, 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 nugget, and a tostada con jamon. In all honesty, I wasn't impressed. While the ham was delicious, the calamari perfectly cooked, and the cheese croquette a pleasantly surprising, the tortilla was only luke warm, the ham croquette was too puree-y, and the chicken nugget... well, it was a chicken nugget.

 

    

 

But 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. Another disappointment; it was a type of flan with chocolate but it tasted very eggy. Still, I didn't expect to get so much to eat!

 

Onto the show, well, I wasn't ready. Not at all. Five people came onto stage: four men and a woman. One man had a guitar, 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.

 

Even 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.

 

    

 

    

 

I 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 impressive, and I would definitely do 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.

 

I 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. I definitely recommend it!

 

Adios, Madrid. Hasta la proxima!