At the memorial dedicated to the victims. You can read some words.
We started out by taking the metro to the grand "Atocha" train station. When we got off the metro (which led directly to the station) we went into a memorial dedicated to all the victims of the terrorist attack held in this same station on 3/11/04. It was very impacting. Once we entered, there was complete silence, and there was a funnel type of structure filled with words of hope in different languages. When we exited the area, we took the escalators down to the ticket booth, and bought ourselves tickets to Alcala de Henares. I was pleasantly surprised when the seemingly long line for the tickets vanished quickly. We then proceeded to wait for our train. The system was excellent, as we only had to wait for 10 minutes. After the wait, we boarded the train to Alcala de Henares.
The quaint streets of Alcala.
Now, this town is known popularly as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the writer of "Don Quijote de la Mancha". When we got off the train, we walked through the quaint little streets of the town, making our way to Miguel de Cervantes's house. Once we walked through the main door, a small, inner courtyard stood before us. We started looking at the first floor rooms, starting out with the dining room, the kitchen, and a bedroom. In a separate room we saw an old, simple barber chair. There was a bowl which in those times men would use it to shave, and all the cream/hair would fall into the bowl. Now, this bowl is where Miguel de Cervantes got the idea for Don Quijote's hat (in fact, it is the same bowl). After an interesting tour of the second floor, where we saw some nice puppets, we exited the house and continued to the main plaza of the town.
Outside of Miguel de Cervantes's house.
The plaza is beautiful and quaint at the same time. There were trees grown to form "archs" over one's head. After taking in the views at the plaza, we decided to see the university. Now, we took some time to shop for souvenirs and local goodies. There were many beautiful chess tables dedicated to the tale of "Don Quijote". All the shops were relatively small, but offered good buys. After the small time of shopping we made our way to the "Universidad de Alcala". We didn't have enough time to enter, but we at least saw the facade. After all that time in Alcala, we bought tickets at the station to go back to "Atocha" in Madrid. When we returned, we ate some dinner and walked back to the hotel.