Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cityscape on Camera: Madrid, Spain

After nearly a week in Andalusia with the entire family, Mom took my little brother back to Switzerland with her while Jonathan, Abby and I continued on to Madrid. (Don't worry, Michael was leaving for a study abroad trip at a cheetah rehabilitation center in South Africa. So it's not like his trip was being cut short.) We caught a train from Ronda straight through to Madrid and checked into our hostel. We were able to find a very affordable hostel within walking distance of two major plazas in Madrid (Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor), the major shopping street (Gran Via) and the main city park (Parque del Retiro). I highly recommend Room007 Ventura Hostel if you're ever in the area. We even had a great roommate from Brazil, so Jonathan got to practice his Portuguese and we had a friend to explore the city with.

Drinks and tapas at El Tigre on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
With our Brazilian roommate at El Tigre bar. Now THOSE are tapas!
And now, on to the sightseeing! As usual, we took a free tour of the city on our first morning. The tour started in Plaza Mayor and sights around the city included the oldest restaurant in the world, Almudena Cathedral, and the Royal Palace and Royal Cathedral of Madrid. Jonathan also got to help our tour guide explain the history of the Spanish monarchy. (He's on the far right in the last picture of this section.)

Plaza Mayor in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Plaza Mayor in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Oldest restaurant in the world on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Almudena Cathedral in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Royal Palace Cathedral in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Royal Palace of Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Free city tour of Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life

The tour also included a brief stop at this bridge, the Viaducto de Segovia. Apparently the bridge became notorious for suicide attempts, so a glass wall was built inside the railing to deter jumpers. Our tour guide told us this tactic has actually worked, not because people can't scale the interior wall, but because by the time they go through the ordeal of scaling the interior wall, they're too scared or tired to make the final jump over the railing. People might be willing to jump over one wall, he said, but not two.

Viaducto de Segovia in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life

The tour ended in the early afternoon, so we ate a late lunch at the Puerta del Sol and took some pictures with the famous bear and madrone tree statue in the plaza, a common symbol of the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping in the Parque del Retiro in our swimsuits to work on our tans. It was a great place to people-watch and get some ice cream. :)

Bear and madrone tree in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Bear and madrone tree in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Bear and madrone tree symbol of Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Parque de Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Parque del Retiro in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life

That evening, Jonathan decided he was overdue for a shave and decided to get a hot shave at the oldest barber shop in Madrid.

Oldest barber shop in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life




After his grooming was finished, we went to a flamenco show at Las Carboneras. It was really too beautiful to capture on film, but if you're ever in Madrid, I highly recommend going to a show! It was a small bar so we were really close to the stage and the stomping and yelling was really loud and intense. Afterward, we went to our favorite bar, El Tigre. I had read about it on the National Geographic website, and it was definitely a hidden gem: For only five euros, you got a huge mojito AND numerous plates of delicious free tapas. See all that food? We didn't pay for any of it. And if you wanted a huge cup of beer, it was only two euros and still came with all that food.

Huge free tapas at El Tigre bar in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Drinks and tapas at El Tigre Bar in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life

The next day, we decided to go inside the Royal Palace of Madrid. You can't take any pictures inside, which was unfortunate because the tile work was beautiful. My favorite rooms were the ones with Oriental-inspired designs on the ceilings. I did take some photos of the exterior and the courtyard, however.

Jonathan and Megan at the Royal Palace of Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Inside Royal Palace of Madrid courtyard on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
Royal Palace of Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life


Abby and I also made a pretty important purchase on Gran Via—patterned leggings! But you'll see more of those next week when I recap our three days in Lisbon. :) And now, I'll leave you with one very important lesson I learned in Madrid:

Spanish menu in Madrid on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
"Enjoy food and drink; life is short."

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7 comments:

Mae said...

I love this post and all of the photos. I absolutely love Madrid! I've been there twice but this post taught me a few things I'm definitely noting down for my next trip back.

Mae said...

I love this post and all of the photos. I absolutely love Madrid! I've been there twice but this post taught me a few things I'm definitely noting down for my next trip back.

Irene said...

Beautiful photos! And that food looks delicious, my mouth is watering right now :)
I was once in Madrid with a good friend of mine and had a great time eating tapas, visting museums and doing some shopping. I still have some friends over there so I should visit them sometime ...

angieeatspeace said...

Awesome pics!

Britta Marie said...

I don't think I have ever met anyone who has been to Madrid and didn't like it. I spent a month there in college and then numerous weekends when I was living in Spain. I'm glad you got to experience it!

Peg Peter said...

Love all the photos of Madrid! I feel like I got a tour. :)
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retriever said...

Madrid is a nice place!
,☸ ...fantastic shots!!...☸ڿڰۣڿڰۣ
Have a nice day with , Greeting from Belgium
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