Very early in the morning, I boarded the AVE (Spain's high speed train) from Sevilla to Madrid. It was a fast and comfortable journey across the mountainous and sparse interior. I arrived at Madrid's Atocha Station and proceeded to the Museo Reina Sophia, Spain's national museum of 20th century art. It exhibits large collections of Picasso and Dali. This museum is fantastic. I highly reccomend it for all you art lovers.
After an enlightening time at the Reina Sophia, I headed to my hotel to check in. What a scary place. I will spare you the details, see the review. After checking in, I went out to see the city.
I first walked to the Puerta del Sol. This is the center of Madrid and also, of Spain. It's quite a city center. It is full of people going somewhere and the energy is fantastic. From there I headed to the famed Plaza Mayor. This was created in the 17th century when the city had no real place for the people to gather. That has definitely changed now. The square is quite the place to be and obviously be seen, especially in the evening. It is always a buzz with activity. There are numerous restaurants, souvenir shops and local artists on display. I found a wonderful statue of a matador created by an artist from Cadiz
, down on the coast.
From the Plaza, I walked to the Palacio Real. What an amazing architectual feat and how grand.
Well, it is a palace.....it should be. I took the guided tour......well worth the admission price as it provided a wealth of detail and history, to be reviewed separately. From the terrace you are able to see the city park which is the size of central park. Even in the opressive heat of the summer it looks like an oasis in the city.
After leaving the Palacio Real, I walked to the Plaza Espana. This place feels a bit socialist, due to the syle of architecure and scale. It has a monument with statue dedicated to Epsana's playwright,novelist, and poet Miguel de Cervantes. After a brief stop for some ice cream at Hagen-Daz, I headed to the room for a bit of A/C, as it is around 100 degrees.......and I am hot and tired. Back to the hotel and a quick refreshing shower, I was ready to head our for dinner.
I happened upon an interesting mediteranean fusion restaurant with an intriguing menu. After the delicious meal, I walked back to the Plaza Mayor to enjoy the crowd and watch the sun set. The plaza was full of people having dinner, and chatting with friends or family. It just has a good feel here. What a great day.
Day 2 was spent in Toledo. See my Toledo site. You will enjoy the visit.
Day 3, I spent half the day on a tour of Madrid by bicycle. I had a Dutch guide, who had only moved to Madrid 6 months ago. She was able to give me interesting bits of history and show me parts of the city that would have been more difficult to see on foot. We went to the Temple of Debod, an piece of Egytian history. From there it was a thrilling ride down the Gran Via (Madrid's Champs E'lysee).
We weaved in and out of traffic then through interesting little neighborhoods. It was fantastic. Then on to the Plaza Alcala and the Plaza Ciebeles which are some of the most grand roundabouts in Europe. From there we went to the many sites within the Parc del Buen Retiro. It's lush and green and a wonderful place to explore on bike with the monuments and ponds. What an exciting morning. I spent the afternoon walking some of the parks and taking in the medieval town hall and the area around. I decided to have my dinner at one of the many cafes of the Plaza Mayor. I wanted to be one of those people that I had seen the prevous night enjoying the sunset of the Plaza. The food was not exceptional but, the atmosphere and street performers and artists working make up for it. Another great day.