Marian at our friend's place in Madrid.
Spain is one of my favourite countries in Europe, but to be honest it has been already a couple of years since my last visit. We had here a stop of some 20 hours, not much, but enough to make some quick sightseeing and to get used to a Spanish speaking environment again. And I shouldn’t forget that I was looking forward to see Erika, one of my University friends. She has been living in Madrid for the last 2 years and liked it here a lot obviously.
It was late in the night when we suddenly landed in “Barajas”, the international airport of Madrid.
With a smile on my face I observed how Marian was taking pics of everything that got in front of his camera focus. He just absolved the very first flight of his life and seemed enjoying it. Good. Dan was much cooler, even if this was his first visit to Spain as well. Still had to remind him several times when he started talking in English that Marian can’t understand him, but he would get used to it. At least it would force him to practice his Slovak to improve it.
View from the window.
We picked up our luggage and walked direction exit. Pavel sent me a text message from his cell phone already a day before how to get easily to Erika’s place. Sounded really easy. Two subway lines, that was it. And the subway tickets weren’t too expensive as well, 2 euros per person. Honestly, Western Europe got so expensive the last years that I expected more. Within some 20 minutes we were standing at the exit of the right subway station and I sent a message to Pavel that we arrived.
He was there some 5 minutes later and leaded us to Erika’s flat nearby. Meanwhile it was midnight and I could see on Erika that she was a bit tired. She did some hiking that day with Pavel and had some pain in her muscles. But she insisted that we should eat at least something before going to bed and prepared us a pizza.
Ready for some breakfast.
I would have been able to sleep much longer the following morning, but I promised Dan and Marian to go out for some sightseeing. It would have been a waste for them to stay in Madrid without seeing anything from the center. So I kicked my lazy ass and at 9:30am we were ready to leave. Pavel preferred to have some more rest, he has spent in Madrid the last 3 days, he didn’t need any sightseeing. Unfortunately Erika had no city map to borrow me, but she gave me some tips and I hoped I would be able to orientate as I’ve been already twice in Madrid.
We took the subway again and got off close to the “Plaza de Colon”. From here we should be able to get to the “Plaza Mayor”, the Main Square, by walking. We looked around here and took some pictures. As we didn’t have too much time and I didn’t want to get lost I preferred to ask a local for the right direction. Being able to speak fluent Spanish makes everything much easier of course, would have preferred though not to be the only one from us. Didn’t take long and we reached one of the city’s main roads “Calle de Alcala” which leaded us directly to the center. Step by step we passed the beautiful building of “Banco de Espaňa“ and “La Puerta del Sol”, the Sun Gate. Madrid maybe doesn’t have to offer as much as Barcelona or other historical Spanish cities, but I’ve always liked it.
We used the chance to get some breakfast in a café we passed on the way, a croissant with a cup of coffee was all I needed that morning. At least Marian had enough time to write the postcards he bought just before. Unbelievable but true, Marian planned to send a postcard home from each country we were supposed to visit…that included also Spain.
Taking a nap, hehe.
A couple of minutes later we were reaching the “Plaza Mayor”. We could see all around the preparations for a marathon run, Erika told us about it. Actually she planned to participate on it in the afternoon. The square is just huge and often the place of a market where you can buy old books, paintings, coins or banknotes, stamps, etc, etc. We still had about 1 hour left before our meeting with Pavel and Erika, we could make it to the Royal Palace.
I remembered approximately where it was supposed to be, but wasn’t sure anymore how far it was. Dan and Marian were definitely up for it, so why not. Had to ask for the way twice but we got there relatively quickly. Before we made a visit of the cathedral next to it (Iglesia de la Almudena) and then sit down on the stairs in front of the palace. We had no time to go inside anyway, at least we could enjoy the view in front of us a bit. Really just a bit. It was already time to go back again to Plaza Mayor to meet with Pavel and Erika. At least we found a shortcut and didn’t have to take the same way back.
It took our two friends some time to appear, so we used the chance to enjoy the lively atmosphere at the square. But there they were, it was time for some good Spanish lunch. Erika knew some good places nearby so it didn’t take long and we were reading the menu card deciding what to order. We opted for different dishes from which ones we could share, hmmm. The food was so good that on the end I felt every muscle of my poor stomach.
Unfortunately it was getting late, we paid and took the bus back to Erika’s place. Within few minutes we packed our stuff and were ready to leave. South America was waiting. We said goodbye to Erika and took the subway direction airport again.
Dan exploring Madrid.
Thanks to the changes the airline TAM did 2 months ago we had to fly now first to Paris. Makes no sense, I know. But as they changed the departure times of the flights from Sao Paulo to Lima, they adjusted it this way. At least it didn’t cause us any extra costs…just extra time in planes. So instead of “Sao Paulo we are coming” there was a little intermezzo of “Paris we are coming”. C’est la vie, that how life goes.