Walking, walking, walking....

Madrid Travel Blog

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Palacios Real
Madrid is huge, and exhausting! Did I mention that it is massive? I feel like I need a week´s sleep in order to recuperate!

When we planned this leg of the trip we scheduled 4 days in Madrid knowing that we would take one day and make a side trip to Toledo. As a result we crammed a few too many things into today and wore ourselves out. We did start the day by getting our laundry done, which will make things much more pleasant for the next two weeks.

We first visited the Palacios Real, the Royal Palace, home of the Spanish monarchy. It is a massive building and the visit takes you only to one section of the main floor. We think the rest of the palace is still in use as we saw some people coming and going through other doors.
This used to be the parking area when you were visiting the palace
We opted not to take the guided tour and instead walked through on our own. Each of the rooms is well-marked with English translations so we were able to understand the purpose of the rooms.

While walking through the palace we felt sad for the monarchs who lived there as there really aren´t any ´living´type rooms where you can just sit and relax and watch tv. Of course tv did not exist, but every room seemed to be very formal and uncomfortable. The entire palace is decorated in Rococco style, which to me means lots and lots and lots of patterns and colors everywhere. I wondered how you would ever fall asleep with all of that stuff distracting you.

There was a special exhibit going on in one wing of the palace that described the archaelogical efforts of the Spanish monarchy and it was really interesting.
Plaza Mayor
The Spanish monarchy was largely responsible for creating archaelogy as a study and initiated some of the most important archaelogical finds including Pompeii. I learned so much from this exhibit and it was well-worth a visit.

After leaving the palace we took Rick Steeves walking tour through the Plaza Mayor and on into Puerto del Sol. The Plaza Mayor is a giant plaza comletely contained on all sides by identical buildings. It is an important, central area in the city and as we walked through they were setting up for a food festival. Throughout the plaza there are street performers. Some are just strange men dressed up on Spider Man costumes who don´t do anything. But some of them are amazing. Many of the street performers paint themselves and wear elaborate costumes and sit completely still until someone puts a coin in the jar and then they will move and perform.
This is point zero, the zero kilometer marker for all roads in Spain
There was a man painted gold with a broom who I really thought was a statue until a coin went in and he began sweeping and singing, it was great!

After the walking tour we headed over to the Prado. In front of the Prado you can catch the local #27 bus and it takes you down the main avenue into the central business district of Madrid. The informal tour takes you past the American Embassy, the main soccer stadium and several important  government buildings before dropping you off at the Puerto del Europa which are two identical, leaning, skyscrapers that form the entrance to the main city. We took the bus there and back while waiting for the free hours to enter the Prado.

From 6 pm to 8 pm every day the Prado is free. The Prado is an amazing museum and well-worth the 6 euros it cost to enter, but we wanted to check it out on the fly and thought we would go for free.
One of the Puerto Europa tours, it was designed to lean at a 15 degree angle
In total we spent just under 2 hours touring the Prado. They have a really excellent collection of Renaissance art, Spanish art and several really important paintings. We had to rush a bit so we could pick our laundry up in time, but we got to see everything I wanted to, and Brian didn´t complain too much about being dragged around an art museum.

After a quick rest back at the hotel, it was time to get some tapas. We went to the Cava Baja street for tapas and had a really, really great night of tapas and too many drinks. Cava Baja is a trendy street, filled with great tapas bars and we had a lot of fun going from place to place, trying out a tapa, having a drink or two and moving on. After closing one place down we found a hopping bar at the end of the street and stopped in for a few drinks. We met some people at the bar and enjoyed talking and joking around with them for awhile. About 3 am we headed back to the hotel, totally exhausted!

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Palacios Real
Palacios Real
This used to be the parking area w…
This used to be the parking area …
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
This is point zero, the zero kilom…
This is point zero, the zero kilo…
One of the Puerto Europa tours, it…
One of the Puerto Europa tours, i…
Someone I met at the bar, he liter…
Someone I met at the bar, he lite…
photo by: vulindlela