After saying goodbye to our new family in Peru, we travelled for over 40 hours and arrived in Madrid, Spain.
Anxious and eager to see everything, we ventured out on foot each day; camera ready and charged. The narrow streets of Madrid are so colourful that it felt like a shame to catch a bus, train or taxi. Instead, we walked the streets, our feet aching but our eyes full of excitement.
First stop was the Park Retiro. Here you can find the Crystal Palace, built in 1887. It was initially used to house flora and fauna from the Phillipines, but today serves as an art space for Reina Sofia (National Museum). Park Retiro also contains a small pond in front of the Alfonso XII Monument, where you can hire row boats – we saw many couples and families rowing on the picturesque water. The less romantic option, which we picked, is to sit back and watch others row in the sun, sipping your cool drinks in the shade.
Next up, we hit the city to explore the myriad of art galleries and museums. First stop was the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. This is one of the world’s largest private art collections, spanning an expansive period from the 13th century until the late 1980s. In this museum you can find the works of Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Monet, amongst others. Travellers Tip: The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is free each Monday from 12.00pm until 4.00pm.
Another museum we really enjoyed was the Reina Sofia, Spain’s National Museum for 20th century art. This museum is free to enter each Monday – Saturday from 7.00pm until 9.00pm, and each Sunday for 1.30pm until 7.00pm. Reina Sofia spans four floors so we were on a tight timeframe to see the entire museum in two hours! The specific room dedicated to Picasso is definitely worth a look!
The next day, we ventured to the Plaza Mayor. Here we went to San Gines, Chocolateria. This restaurant has been serving chocolate con churros since 1894. Don’t confuse the chocolate for the western “hot chocolate”, this is a cup of melted dark chocolate! Travellers Tip 2: One serve is plenty for 2 or even 3 people. We ordered two serves. The result? Two cups of melted chocolate, 12 churros and 2 sugar overloaded tourists! To walk off our sugar coma, we visited the Mercado de San Miguel. Here you can find tapas bars, eateries, fruit stalls, jamon (prosciutto/ham) stalls and pastries galore! No food for us, as the sugar overload of churros and chocolate remained ever-present in our stomachs memories.
Continuing our journey, we headed down to the Royal Palace, the largest European royal palace with 3,418 rooms! The current palace was completed in 1764, after the prior building was destroyed by a fire in 1734. The tapestries, artwork, and interior design of this palace is a must see. Unfortunately, we were unable to take photographs. However, we can say there is a room covered entirely in Porcelain and enough ceiling paintings that we now are well-versed in the ‘fresco’ art form. It was definitely a highlight for our Madrid adventures.
Finally, in the evening, we headed to the Temple of Debod. This temple was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid, a gift from Egypt in 1968. At the far end of this monument and park, you can find a great view point of the city overlooking the rear of the Royal Palace. We finished off our Madrid adventures with a drink at the rooftop bar located in El Corte Ingles (Spain’s largest department store similar to David Jones). As the sun set, and our Sangria kicked in, we enjoyed our last moments in Madrid.
Next stop, Barcelona!
DT and AP