Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Madrid, Spain


Our last four nights were spent in the big city of Madrid.  When I say big city, I mean it.  Madrid has a population over 3 million with Metropolitan area including 6 million people.  The climate is a lot different from Malaga and Cordoba as well.  The temperature was 10-15 degrees lower and hovered around 10 degrees Celcius for our time there.  We had brought appropriate clothing and were expecting that.  By the time we reached Madrid we were kind of sick eating out every meal so took full advantage of the small "efficiency unit" in our hotel room.  It had a minifridge, two burners, a pot, a pan, two bowls, two plates and some cutlery.  With that we had all our breakfasts in which included croissants, fried chorizo, scrambled eggs, yogurt and fruit.  We also had a huge craving for fruit and veggies so made sure to hit up the fruiteria that was just around the corner from our hotel.   There were 2 grocery stores within a block as well.  



Some of the highlights we saw in Madrid were the Royal Palace (10 Euro pp)and the Almudena Cathedral (free to see inside the Church, 6 Euro pp to climb to the top for great views of Madrid and to see the Cathedral Museum).  After the recent bombing of the Brussels Airport most European countries were on high security alert.   Spain was no exception although we only saw a heavy police presence around the Mezquita in Cordoba and in several spots in Madrid, heaviest being the Palace.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Cops on horses at Royal Palace

View of Palace from top of Almudena Cathedral

Extra security at the Royal Palace where Changing of the Guards takes place
The Royals no longer live in the Palace as they live outside of Madrid in the country.  It is primarily used for Royal functions.  No pictures were allowed inside unfortunately.  The lineup was huge when we arrived so we went and climbed to the top of Almudena Cathedral first.  By the time we were done touring that there was almost no lineup for the Palace so if you ever go, don't be deterred by large lineups.


Almudena Cathedral

View of Madrid from Almudena Cathedral
One of my favorite things we did in Madrid was go to the El Rastro flea market which is held in the La Latina neighborhood which was easily reachable by the Madrid Metro (1.30 Euro per person per ride).  It is held year round every Sunday and has been going since the 16th century.  I was hesitant to go as hate large crowds but even though it was a rainy cold day we had a great time there people watching and bargain hunting.  We didn't buy much, some souvenirs for the kids and a scarf for myself, but it was a great free way to spend the day.  Thousands attend this market every Sunday but if you end up in Madrid and you can't attend on Sunday this neighborhood is packed full of funky antique and curiosity shops.  You can buy anything from car parts to paella pans to antique art there.  

El Rastro Flea Market

El Rastro Flea Market
We stopped at the empanada shop below for a snack to eat in the street as the rest of the crowd was.  The owner was singing at the top of his lungs and the empanadas there were fabulous.
In addition to the flea market and street shops there was a lot of street entertainers.
We also spent a fair amount of time in Madrid just wandering around, shopping, eating and drinking (a common thread on our holidays).  I have to say, Madrid was not my favorite spot on our trip as I do not like big cities - they come with the garbage and issues that all big cities have such as graffiti and crime.  We had to be very aware of pick pockets at the flea market and Plaza Mayor (home to the Spanish Inquisition Executions).  We walked out of a restaurant charging sky high prices in Plaza Mayor simply because of where we were - two blocks further were better restaurants for far less money.  I tend to love cities of less than 800,000 population but if you want to see the major sites some times you have to go to the big cities.  I do have to say though we felt extremely safe at all times and stayed near the Plaza Espana and would highly recommend that area to stay which was walking distance to the Royal Palace.  We booked far in advance and had a great rate of just over $100 CAD at the Sercotel Viena Suites.  The rates nearly double that if booked a couple of weeks out.  In an extremely noisy city our hotel ended up being a quiet oasis and we were shocked at how we heard no traffic noise when one of the busiest streets in Madrid was 2 blocks away.


Plaza Mayor 
Another favorite find in Madrid was the Cerralbo Museum (3 Euro each). The Marquis Cerralbo lived in this mansion and collected art, furniture, and archaeological finds.  He left his home and contents to Spain and it is now a museum.  Unlike many other mansions/palaces this one contains all the objects originally within it.  The National Palace actually was not even comparable to the objects inside to this small museum, which happened to be just around the corner from our hotel.  
Cerralbo Museum

Cerralbo Museum - armor room

Cerralbo Museum



Cerralbo Museum Roman statue and 16th century boar

I have a lot more pictures to share but will do so among regular posts over the next month.  We had a fabulous time and we got a great taste of Spain although there are other different sides of Spain yet to be explored as it is a large country with many different cultures and even other languages.  I would recommend it in a heartbeat and hope to go back some day. I loved Malaga but Cordoba was quite magical with its historic buildings and orange trees and it was the trip favorite for both of us.








22 comments:

  1. Oh, how I love it when you travel! I get to go along with you 'arm chair' style!! We have an empanada shop here in Irving and they are so delicious!
    I think travel is one of the most wonderful things to do! I have done a lot in past years and now only visit places by way of my laptop! Thank you so much for posting all about your trip and I'll be watching for the rest of the pics to come!

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    1. Travel close to home counts Linda :)

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  2. Loved following your travels through Spain and Madrid. We will keep this in mind for when we go to Spain next year, not sure we will be in Madrid though.

    Looking forward to your other pictures! :-)

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. We really enjoyed Spain - so neat to visit new countries, as you well know.

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  3. Agree with you about "most" big cities. Really though, you have to see them all at least once to make up your own mind. :-)

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    1. Yes, that is true. Sometimes you are also at the mercy of flights.

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  4. Gorgeous photos and a great read. Loving that museum and the grounds look exactly how I dream of my garden looking, dilapidated splendour. xxx

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    1. I loved that museum and the small garden - maybe you need some statues of boars? teehee

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  5. Fabulous post I went to Madrid on a school trip and can't remember that much about it so its on my list of city breaks however Barcelona is my all time favourite city at the moment with Venice a close second. I love how much detail you give us in your travel posts I will endeavour to improve with mine lol

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    1. Barcelone is on my list - we just didn't have enough time to travel the distance.

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  6. I love pretending I am seeing Spain through your camera lens! Spain and Portugal are both on my next big trip wish list. If my kids did not live on either side of the continent requiring plane trips to visit them and making my discretionary funds limited, I might get there a little sooner.

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    1. Family scattered does make it difficult for fun travel, that is for sure. Both countries are definitely worth making the trip for!

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  7. Wow - what a great trip. The photo you took of the palace is lovely with the trees and fountain framing it. I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing police actually holding their big weapons! Of course Canadian police carry weapons but they are always holstered except in rare cases. I really hope we don't become a police state. I laughed to see the fellow all wrapped up in his cozy scarf :)

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    1. I am always fascinated by the police holding huge guns as well - Canada is such a tame land :)

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  8. You had a grand trip. The fresh fruits and vegetables looked fantastic. As you know, we like to have some "home cooked" meals in our rooms when we travel. All of the historical buildings remind me of how young our cities on the west coast are. - Margy

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    1. You are so right Margy - our oldest building in town is about 120 years old.

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  9. I was just catching up on your posts about your trip to Spain. I can definitely see why you liked Cordoba more than Madrid, but that flea market looked like it was fun to explore. Europe is so different from the US with its urban sprawl and strip malls. I was in Salzburg in the 1980s...it was incredible. So beautiful. Everywhere you looked was a postcard view. I doubt I'll ever leave this country again at this point in my life. I'm definitely a homebody now, but I really enjoyed your posts and photos of your vacation. Glad it went so well.

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    1. Compared to Europe Canada is such a young country and we are so fascinated by all the history and how old things are - Cordoba was beautiful.

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  10. Such a whirlwind trip. You are both young, hopefully down the road you will be able to take more time to travel. Thank you for taking time to share your vacation with us.

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    1. I do wish we had more time but with the business and the dog it is hard to be away for more than 10 days at a time - I'm not letting that stop us from traveling though :)

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  11. I always enjoy your adventures. It seems that it was a colorful trip.

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    1. It was - always nice to see the world.

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