Hello loyal followers (and new readers too)! We know you have been patiently waiting for posts on our days in Madrid, and here it is. Much like in Budapest, we have decided to combine our three days into one post…but opposed to there, where we were distracted by fun & friends, here we are doing it to balance out the boring. You see, we have had a touch of a stomach issue for the past two days. We have gotten out to see all of the sites of the city, but have also spent a lot of time laying in our beds feeling nauseous. It first hit us in the afternoon of day 1, after our mid-afternoon siesta…it has really become a habit for us here in Spain (we’ll see how we readjust to being out all day when we get back to Paris). After a lay-down we attempted to do a bit of shopping on the store-lined streets surrounding our hostel. We say attempted because we only lasted about an hour before we were back in our beds. We both had an upset stomach. Maybe something we had for lunch didn’t agree with us, maybe we’d caught a touch of stomach flu. We may never know, but either way something had made us feel like we were going to throw up (although neither of us did…Yay! Small victories!). We only left home one more time that day and that was to go down the block to Starbucks for a hot drink and bread product…we managed to keep these simple foods down. Mostly we laid in bed watching Glee videos and episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place on YouTube. Not the most exciting evening, but if you know us you would know we do love our Family Channel shows. This trend continued through the next two days (Disney shows & bed). But, like we said before, we still managed to see all of the exciting sights of Madrid…so here’s a few of them:
Madrid is one of the wonderous cities that features our favorite Sandeman’s New Europe walking tours. We hit up the free tour our first morning as a way to get oriented and seeing the majority of major sites. Our Irish guide was very informative and we learned some fun facts about Spanish history. The most interesting parts were definitely the civil war and the monarchy. As a way of getting us all more involved he had volunteers come up to be the Habsburg Kings of Spain (remember that name from Austria? they were a very powerful family). Justine was excited because this was the period of Spanish history she had learned about in school. Never passing up an oppurtunity to be center of attention, Kristin volunteered and ended up as Phillipe IV, aka Phillipe the Loser. Clue the “well isn’t that fitting” jokes… She found out she’d come into power during the 30 years war and ended up losing much of Spain’s empire during her rule…but she did have an awesome statue made of her:
Interesting Fact: This was the first ever equestrian statue made with the horse rearing up on it’s hind legs. Sculpters had never known how to balance a so off-balance position. It took bringing in Galileo Galalei (the guy who discovered the world revolved around the sun…aka a super smart guy) to figure out that if part of the statue is hollow & part is filled with bronze the whole thing can be made to stand.
The Palacio Real is the grand palace of the Spanish monarchy built in 1738. Because it has been built into a cliffside the palace is larger than it appears. It is actually the largest in western Europe. The current Spanish king (yes Spain still has a king) doesn’t live here though. He found it’s 2800 rooms a little to extravagent, especially when there are people in poverty in his country. Instead he lives in a palace of a mere 100 rooms…how selfless 😉 The Palacios Real now holds large, international conferences and other important national functions, as well as being open to tourists.
Our tour took us through the Literary District, where the homes of many famous Spanish writers had once been. One was Miguel Cervantes. You may know him as the man who wrote Don Quixote. Did you know that this was the most read work of fiction ever? It was only surpassed when Harry Potter came out and all the people of the world realized it’s greatness 🙂
To see the Puerta de Alcalá we walked down some of the lovely wide roads. This gave us a chance to check out a few shops. The Puerta de Alcalá is a large series of arches that replaced the older, smaller gate which stood as entrance into the walled city in 1774. They were very nice, but probably would have been more impressive if we hadn’t seen many other large triumphal arches on this trip…especially the Arch de Triomphe.
Templo de Debod is a real Egyptian temple right in the middle of the city. The Egyptians gave the people of Madrid the temple because of their help in saving the ruins of Abu Simbel during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in 1960. It’s a very random sight, but really neat.
It also involved a nice walk through the park to get to the temple and had a nice viewpoint next to it. That view below shows the palace on the far left and and cathedral next to it…oh and then there’s one of us 🙂
In the center of Puerta del Sol we found the Bear Statue. This statue is the symbol of Madrid, although no one really knows why…there are no bears in the Madrid area, nor have there ever been. There is simply not enough vegetation in the area to support a bear’s diet. It’s thought that the bear and the madroño tree represent the battle between church & state that has been a large part of Spanish history. In fact, the capital of Spain was moved to Madrid by King Phillipe II in 1561 not because it was a great location, but because it was a bad one. This meant there was no bishop in the area and the King was able to rule with less church interference. We posed for a photo because we were told “No one will believe you’ve actually been to Madrid unless you have a picture with the bear statue. Every tourist gets their photo with the bear statue.”
For food we’ve done a lot of fake meals (because we’ve felt so sick). We did eat out a couple of times though…
The first would be lunch on Day 1. The tour is long enough that we stopped for a lunch break. The place our guide recommended we all go to was a small cafe-looking place that served drinks and little sandwiches. The food was small, but only a euro each. We split 4 finger sandwiches, the chips they came with, Justine had a coffee and Kristin had a bottle of water and it only cost 6 euros 🙂 Good deal!
On Day 2 we were feeling better, that was until we had lunch. We won’t point any fingers though because it was delightfully delicious. We took part in the Spanish tradition of churros and chocolate at the famous Chocolateria San Gines. The chocolate is a bit rich, so neither of us even finished half a cup, but it tasted sooo good.
Food didn’t sit well though so for supper we decided comfort food for supper was best. We took a trip to the nearby grocery store and bought some tomato soup and the materials needed for grilled cheese. It was a delicious meal like we’d have if we were sick at home.
We ventured out for a small meal one day. We hit up the same restaurant (different location) from the day before and this time split a paella, just a chicken one this time. Seafood was still making us feel kinda queasy.
Feeling much better we set out for our favorite Spanish restaurant (yet another different location) for our final meal in Spain. Crazy enough, it turned out much more Italian. We split a 4 cheese pizza and some tagliatelle carbonara. To celebrate no longer feeling sick, we had some sangria. 🙂
What We Miss (let’s do 3 things, for the 3 days):
– Milk…big, cold, glasses of milk…mmmmmmmmm….
– An actual computer…with an actual keyboard…IgPat is great, but it’s just not the same.
– Our Daddies!
Love, Luck & Lattes,