Thursday, July 02, 2009

Madrid (Day 1 & 2)

So we are off... Europe called us once more like a siren to her shores, and who are Phoebe and I to deny the call of Siren Europe...
This was the leg of Europe I had been looking to the most... Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey!! Mostly my excitement lie in the warm weather... after months of weather in the 30 - 60 degree range, I was anxious to feel the heat of the sun in 80 degree weather. But I also was looking forward to the art, culture, and beauty of the mediterranean countries.

Our first stop was in Madrid Spain -
Our journey began very early in the morning yet again. All my big bags had been taken to a friends house for safe keeping, so my 5am wake up was followed by throwing the last of my junk away to leave my room empty... It was sad locking up my room for the last time leaving it with no trace of my life there for the last 6 months.
Phoebe and I then boarded a train to Gatwick airport
upon airport arrival we discovered we had to check our bags... ugh!! They call them carry on bags for a reason and yet... no.
With our unexpected delay at checkin, Phoebe and I just barely made it to the gate before they closed it off.
EasyJet has no been affectionately referred to as SleasyJet, because it is not an easy way to travel at all... it was inexpensive and we definitely got what we paid for. Phoebe is not a fan or flying and the bumpiness wasn't helping... but my rendition of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music did. We also passed the time by watching the first half of Twilight on my iPod (this is about as much as Phoebe and I can handle of the movie before we start yelling at the movie because of how lame it is and how bad an actress Kristen Stewart is... but yes, we keep watching it over and over again).
As we started flying over Spain, we were served lunch... I decided to order a chorizo in order to get me into the Spanish mood... it was actually pretty good for plane food!
We made it!!

We hopped on the classy and clean metro to our hostel and immediately noticed that people were starring at us... strange... but it soon dawned on us that it was because we finally no longer fit in and were too pale for the sun filled city of Madrid.
We made it to La Puerta del Sol ("door of the sun" a public square) which is where we found our hostel!

After dumping our stuff in our room.... which had its own clean bathroom (YAY!) we headed out to explore...
Plaza Mayor... look at the paintings on the beautiful... so colorful and pretty

Phoebe was keen to have some authentic Spanish cuisine and so we found a cafe and ordered Churros con Chocolat - these are not your disneyland churros, which I am not a fan of anyways... but these were delicious!! And the chocolate was dark and warm and too much to finish off with just churro dipping, so Phoebe and I drank it - YUM!!! Spanish chocolate is amazing!

Half way through our dining experience though the skies opened and it started POURING rain!! Phoebe and I waited out the rain and then continued our exploring in the chilly wet air... luckily it wasn't miserably cold and this was forecast to be our coldest day by 15 degrees.
We saw the famous Madrid Opera House

Shopped in the clothing stores... we still don't know what this mannequin was pointing to... but immediately after taking this picture we got yelled at

These are what all the street signs in Madrid look like - they are mounted on the sides of buildings - I love the little things about each city

For dinner Phoebe and I popped into Cafe & Te for a meal of Paella... seriously my new favorite food!!!! SO GOOD! It consists of rice, peas, sweet pepper (misspelled on the menu as "peepers"), mussels, shrimp, calamari, and the most amazing spices!! Phoebe and i shared one because it is so big and filling

We also ordered delicious smoothies because we had been craving good smoothies since January and had thus far been disappointed... these were DELICIOUS!
Our day finished after that... we went back to the hostel - finished Twilight through fits of laughter and yelling at Bella for being clumsy to the point of having a mental handicap.

I awoke the next morning to my first feeling of not knowing where I was. As soon as we were fully awake and ready to go Phoebe and I set off to visit the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). To our dismay it opened at 11am instead of 9... so we were incredibly early. No matter - we strolled around the streets nearby and took pictures

Madrid was fast becoming a favorite city of mine... it is so pretty and the people are friendly. I realized that my 4 years of Spanish did not prove useless and I was able to understand a lot of stuff... which was good, cause Phoebe didn't know any spanish. The sad thing was I can't speak as well as I can understand, so while people would speak to me in Spanish, I responded in English... even though I understood... but they were still nice and helpful.
This is the Cathedral across from the Palace

We finally got into the Palace Courtyard... it was SO pretty. In our opinion it rivals Versailles for beauty... Phoebe said she like it better cause it was less touristy... undoubtedly the Spanish know what's classy

We bought audio guides (but had to wait forever for someone to help us... and my battery died half way through the tour anyways...) We also were not allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but I cause these discretely... The funny thing is that in a couple parts of the palace I was simply touching my camera and NOT taking a picture and that is when I got yelled at. Sorry Spain
I love ceilings

The front entry

This picture is blurry, but the throne room was beyond breathtaking...

view of Madrid from the Palace courtyard

Some things about the palace:
- It is FILLED with clocks... all shapes and sizes
- It pays tribute to Queen Mary Tudor who was also Queen of Spain through marriage... but never stepped foot on Spanish soil. So the Tudors are EVERYWHERE!
- when Phoebe and I were walking out there was a closed door out to another courtyard and I wanted to look through the window to see it... as I walked towards the door a lady guard started yelling at me to stop, I turned and asked if I could look out the window to which she simply replied "no" and continued to give me the evil eye... it was so odd and made Phoebe and I laugh
After the Palace Phoebe and I returned to Cafe & Te (mostly because there is one on every street) for sandwiches for lunch. In Spain they bring the bill to your table with your food... AWESOME! I have grown to hate asking for the bill all the time because they don't bring it to you in Europe and England unless you ask.
Phoebe and my next stop was the Museo del Prado to check out some Spanish art
some more pics of Madrid along the way

Museo del Prado

They didn't allow pictures inside either, and I am having trouble uploading the pics from the internet, but here are some links
The Sleeping Beauty
The Parisol
Saturn... this one scared Phoebe and I immensely... but then that old man became so endeared to us
There was also tons of Rubens, Goya, El Graco, Bosch, and Botticeli... Such pretty things.
Phoebe and I enjoyed making background stories or captions to each pictures... I'm sure our laughter was disruptive
After finding our way to every room in the Prado (the map was incredibly confusing) we left and headed to Praque del Buen Retiro... a park.
It was so pretty and the weather was warm, so I was so excited to stroll around for a while

(the below picture is partially corrupt)

The weather was so lovely that Phoebe and I decided to get some popcicles... I was so excited for my pirulo popcicle and as I went to put my mouth on it I discovered it was SO FROZEN that my lips immediately froze to it! Well in my shock I immediately ripped it away and with it went a chunk of my lip... SADNESS!

This is the statue which is the symbol of Madrid

Now that sight seeing for the most part was done Phoebe and I set about shopping for souvenirs!!! Madrid is SO affordable... another point to Spain!
For dinner Phoebe and I thought that you can't get enough of a good thing, so we returned to Cafe & Te for more Paella - YUM! This time we coupled our meal with an order of Mojitos... SO STRONG! We caught pictures of each other's faces after every sip we tooks... priceless

We thought about seeing a Flamanco dancing show, but then rethought that when we saw how much to would cost, so instead we got Gelato (nutella and strawberry) and shopped around some more

Madrid was awesome and I would definitely love to go back... but Spain in general was just so great!! I REALLY would love to go down to southern Spain and check out all the Moorish architecture and everything... highly reccommended city and country!

1 comment:

Amy T Schubert said...

Andrew would LOVE those churros ... thanks for the pic.