The days seem to zoom past me, I’m already almost half-way done with another week. Last weekend Erin & I boarded the bus for Madrid for a whirlwind of metros, food, & beautiful things…here we go:
Erin & I met at 7:30am to catch the 8am bus out of Sevilla. 6 1/2 hrs later and no sleep to speak of, we were at the Madrid bus station. Got lost on the metro going the wrong way trying to find the stop for our hostel & then got lost trying to find our hostel once off the metro b/c neither of us remembered to write the address down. We walked for about 20 minutes around where we thought it was, found an internet place, did some quick research, more walking, found our hostel but couldn’t get in, we waited for a bit and luckily some friendly Americans happened to be leaving. We checked in, unpacked, & ventured out armed with my trusty guidebook for Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. The buildings were so grand and exactly what you think of when you picture “old” Spain. We found a great market near Plaza Mayor with a TON of fresh seafood/ham/tapas/etc. also a Museo de Jamón (Ham Museum)…only in Spain. We walked and walked, it got dark and we found some gorgeous plazas with fountains that were lit up.
Walked a bit more, stopped in a Chino store for some breakfast magdalenas then headed back to our little neighborhood to search for food. Found a great little cafe with bocadillos and tapas then headed back to the hostel for a good night’s sleep. Oh and some where along the way I finally found my book for my history class! I had been to 6 stores in Sevilla and nothing, we went to 2 in Madrid before I found mine!
Leisurely morning after we searched the hostel for towels, left about noon for the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). We went to yet another bookstore to find Erin’s history book since they only had one copy at the store I went to. Seriously the book situation was ridiculous! After the book adventure, we saw the very beautiful Plaza de Oriente on our way to the Palacio. It was GORGEOUS! Waited in line for the Palacio, no photos inside unfortunately, although I did make it through security with a purse full of bread and other snacks. The rooms were ridiculous! In one the walls were made entirely of porcelain and the dining room had about 75 chairs. Unbelievable to see in person!
We walked and toured and tried to pick up what the random Spanish tour guides were saying along the way. We sat in the Plaza de Oriente and ate our baguettes and other random food our señoras were kind enough to give us for the trip. The life of a college student traveling on a budget…makes for good stories. We did find the churros place from the night before and stopped in for some cheap churros & café. After more chatting we made our way down to La Reina Sofia. The art museum houses the more contemporary Spanish art including La Guernica by Picasso among other things. I like contemporary art more than the classics so this was my type of place. The museum is MASSIVE though, we hit the Picasso highlights, wandered for a while, then called it a day. I did get an illegal shot of La Guernica from the neighboring gallery.
Erin eating a baguette for lunch…we’re too cheap to buy real food
La Guernica from afar
We walked back to our little barrio along the Paseo del Prado which was amazing to see at night. I always think city pictures at night are much cooler than during the day. I got some good shots. We found another little cafe for dinner that I would be at all the time if I were a Madrileña, the people were so nice, tapas were great, and the environment was perfect. We had goat cheese, pork, and a few other things I can’t remember along with the tinto del verano that we love so much. My first tapas served on bread…good stuff. We also helped a British couple order their food. They were sitting behind us and asked us to translate a few things off the menu. I’m far from fluent but I can order off a tapas menu, that’s a big step I think…
The only day it rained during the weekend which we were thankful for but it didn’t make trying to walk around any easier. We ventured to El Rastro, the giant flea market that consumes entire blocks in an area of Madrid every Sunday. It probably wasn’t worth the walk in the rain but we didn’t know that before. I did get a few pairs of cheap socks though since my señora only does my laundry when its nice outside…which has been a rarity lately in Sevilla. Walked back, checked out of our lovely hostel after having to search for the lady (no front desk…what is that about?), & a Metro ride to the bus station for luggage storage. We got lost for about 20 minutes when we left the bus station. Found our way and headed for the Museo del Prado. This museum is also MASSIVE and a little overwhelming for a 1-2 hr visit. We saw lots of classic works by the famous Spanish painters, Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, etc. My favorite was one of the Crucifixion by Velazquez. I could have stared at it all day, I should have bought the post card (no photos inside the museum). We decided to cave and take the Metro back to the bus station. We ate the rest of our food loot while waiting, boarded the bus back to Sevilla and we were home by about 11 pm.
our food for the weekend
Random things you would not expect to see in a city like Madrid:
-Wrangler’s jean store
-Best Western Hotel
-a restaurant advertising Texas food
-a HUGE Levi’s jean store
When I think of Madrid, I think of all things that embody Spanish culture. Its hard to describe in words but picture windy streets full of markets, the ever-present tapas bars, Spanish people strolling along the sidewalks on their way to pick up their bread for the day. Grand plazas full of tourists and street performers surrounded by buildings that could be from the age of Don Quixote. Museums full of masterpieces depicting Spanish creativity, many of which get passed by without a glance because of the sheer number of them. Metro cars full of afternoon commuters on their siesta break. A random little churreria tucked around a corner with two Spanish men sipping on their favorite café. This is just the Madrid I saw.
Overall, a good weekend full of getting lost, exploring, using our Spanish, beautiful things you can’t capture on film, long bus ride chats, cheap food, walking in the rain, and generally having the time of our lives. A good place to start for our traveling adventures yet to come.