Entries Tagged as 'W EUR- SP, Madrid'

Madrid- Museo del Jamon Restaurant, Puerta del Sol, Gran Via Street, Cafeteria Los Alpes

On the beginning of my fourth day in Madrid, I decided to have lunch at The Museo del Jamon Restaurant on Carrera Street, where I was surrounded, not surprisingly by ham(jamon means ham in English).  Being intent on try paella, though, I tried the paella instead, for I had never had it before.  Paella contains a mixture of shrimp, calamari, clams, peas, rice, green peppers, lemons, and saffron. 

When I ordered it, I was told it would take about 30 minutes to cook.  Being an American who is used to getting his meal served quickly, I was hesitant about ordering it.  The waitress, though, told me in a pleasant and charming way that I should relax and enjoy myself, and that my meal would be out shortly.  I agreed, and 30 minutes later, out came my paella.  This was quite an exotic meal for my pallete, but I was definitely glad I tried it.  I think, after all, that getting out of one's comfort zone is an important part of travel.  And by the way, in my conversation with the waitress, I was speaking mostly English, and she mostly Spanish, but somehow, we came to understand each other pretty well, and the interaction was actually quite fun.

Then I was off to The Puerta del Sol on Calle Mayor and Carretras, which is a major commercial district.  Here I came upon a large group of people enjoying themselves.  I didn't want to be left out of this fun, so I grabbed an ice cream cone, and enjoyed the fountains and the musicians playing mariachi music there.

Next, I decided to join in the paseo on Gran Via Street.  The paseo is a walk that Spanish families are fond of taking each evening, where they periodically stop to talk with their friends, who are also out walking with their families.  I myself think it is a delightful tradition.

Last of all, I headed for The Cafeteria Los Alpes on Calle Mayor 54.  Here I ordered churros con chocolate.  When I received my order, I immediately dipped a churro into the warm, pudding-like chocolate.  Perfection!  What a way to finish the day!

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Madrid- El Madrono Cafe, The Royal Palace, and The Cathedral of Almudena

I decided to start out my day in Madrid by getting some carbohydrates, so I headed for El Madrono Cafe at Plaza Puerta Cerrada 7, and I soon realized I was in for a delightful surprise.  First of all, the cafe had beautifully painted tilework both inside and out.  One of my favorite tile paintings was of three smiling women at a cafe, wearing mantillas(on their heads), colorful dresses, and with fans in their hands.  My other favorite was of two men(possibly bandits, also at a cafe), with bandanas on their heads, white shirts, vests, pants, and horseriding boots.  Opposite them are two smiling ladies who seem to be enamored with these fellows.

I myself took a seat outside the structure, because it was next to a delightful pedestrian zone, where I enjoyed a street peformer playing his accordion.  I also enjoyed watching the people rushing this way and that, and little birds hopping about, looking for tasty morsels.

My own meal consisted of 2 bowls, one containing shrimp scampi, the other, a cold Spanish tomato soup called gazpacho.  The shrimp scampi was absolutely delicious!  The gazpacho, though, was not quite so high on my list.

Thus fortified, I made my way to The Royal Palace on Calle Bailen and Calle Mayor.  It was a regal gray and white structure, and its interior rooms were were ablaze with richness and color, especially the red and gold throne room.  There was also a room packed with armor, shields, and swords, which satisfied my inner child.  Alas, there was no photo taking allowed inside, so you will just have to visit the palace yourself....

The Cathedral of Almundena, which was just across from the palace, was pleasant to look at from the outside, but was quite plain on the inside, so with visions of Spanish royalty and shrimp scampi in my head, I cheerfully made my way back to my hotel room.

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Madrid- Prado Museum, Royal Botanical Garden

As I woke up in the morning, I decided to head for The Prado Museum on Paseo del Prado and Felipe 4.  This is the greatest museum in Spain, and indeed, one of the greatest in the world!

Out in front of this museum was a statue of Diego Velazquez, the greatest of all Spanish painters, seated, with a paintbrush in one hand and a palette in the other.  Upon entering the structure, I went straight for "Las Meninas," Velazquez's masterpiece.  It was an exqisite painting of maids of honor, joined by Velazquez himself in the painting.

Another painting of note was by Albrecht Durer, that great German painter.  It was his "Self Portrait," in which he showed an attention to detail that was breathtaking!

Next, I was struck by a painting of a cardinal by Raphael, the great painter of Italy.  I have to say that that particular shade of red worn by cardinals in the Catholic Church was quite impressive.

Last of all, I went to The Royal Botanical Garden on Paseo del Prado, where I had a chance to recuperate from my musem fatigue, amongst its myriad  trees and flowers, soaking up its delightful environs.  Then off for home to rest my feet!

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Madrid- Plaza Mayor, Sobrino del Botin Restaurant

I arrived at my hotel in Madrid, capitol of Spain, on a cloudy day in the late afternoon. After I put my bags away in my room, I made my way past a tranquil fountain and into the Plaza Mayor on Toledo and Zaragoza, heart of this historic city. Built by King Philip III, this plaza was once used for royal ceremonies and bullfights.

I myself enjoyed walking around this beautiful enclosed space, taking in the live flamenco music, which I enjoyed very much. There were also artists sketching people's portraits, and souvenir posters galore.

I then headed for Sobrino del Botin Restaurant on Cuchilleras 17, which is the oldest restaurant in the world. It was also a favorite of Ernest Hemingway's when he was in town long ago.

As I opened the heavy wooden door of this charming place, I was immediately greeted by a friendly Spanish gentleman who showed me to my seat. And what was I to have for dinner at this excellent restaurant? Why the roast suckling pig, of course! As I dug into my main course, I realized that this was the richest meat I had ever had! Quite delicious, but not something you'd want to have every day.

I also had a pleasant chat with a cute American couple. They said that Madrid was their favorite place to travel to in the world. I was starting to understand why!

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