June 29th, 2011.
Customs only took 2-3 minutes! I was lucky. Had to take a shuttle to Terminal 4 for some money exchange. For 80 U.S. dollars, I only received 51 Euros! YIKES! I then jumped on a 24 hour express bus to Atocha Station. It was hard carrying my luggage up and down the stairs of the station. I read in Rick Steves to purchase the Metrobus 10 Journey Ticket. You are able to use your ATM card. I had Euros on me. It cost 9 euros 30 which is about $12.00. I had to transfer from Atocha to La Latina station. I asked for directions and got to my bed and breakfast (Abracadabra) fairly easy. Dropped off my luggage and B-lined to the Palacio Real.
Got in for free with my staff teacher card and other teacher identification card that I purchased from STA (Student Travel). I walked into the Pharmacy Room of Palacio Real. It was interesting to see that tree bark was brought over from the New World to the Old World to help relive fevers.
Source: “2004 July – Madrid.” My Gallery. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://scw.hk/2004COE_Madrid.htm>.
There were many different style rooms. I did get bottlenecked into tour groups and had a hard time moving through certain rooms. Loved the throne room with red velvet walls and loved the oriental roms.
Source: Palacio Real Rooms. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7158/6602435131_ace504fe78_z.jpg>.
The coolest place to visit that people forget to tour is the Armory Room. It was covered with swords, helmets and medieval gear. By going through and seeing all the weaponry, you could see how the Spanish ruled in the Americas at one point. You could also see how they manipulated all the precious metals of the Americas. Of course it was glorified in the museum, and the story gets much worse if you look into the history of it.
Source: Armory Room Palacio Real. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sems.und.edu/Trips/Spain05/IMAGES/armory.jpg>.
After walking through the palace, I got pretty tired. Jet lag set in, so I walked outside and found some marble steps. I took my shoes off and put my feet onto the soothing COLD marble steps. Outside where I was sitting, I could see the Royal Stairs that went directly up to a huge coat of arms, pretty cool. Apparently in my tired mindset, a girl was spotting my Rick Steves book. She came right up to me and started chatting away. She was a nurse chaperoning high school students. We exchanged small conversation. I could have engaged the conversation more, but I just didn’t feel like doing that. A bonus about traveling by yourself. I kept my conversations short and I think she eventually got the point.
Walking around the gardens by the Palacio Real, I took a seat on a bench to soak in nature and some sun. I saw some people dressed up. I was close to the Opera House. I saw two main characters taking a smoke break. They could have been super rude to me, but they weren’t. I asked if they would take a photo and they posed for me! They didn’t realize how much it meant to me! I was grateful for them doing this!
Santa Maria De La Almudena
I forgot to mention that before I even went to the Palacio Real, I stepped into the church right by Palacio Real. I was surprised to see modern stained glass that reminded me of Barcelona. There was a super elaborate altar and I climbed up the stairs to go and check it out. There were a lot of people revering it and praying as they got to the top. I prayed for Jer and his health condition at the time.
A picture from the Palacio Real side looking at Santa Maria De La Almudena
I was happy to see Pope John Paul II in a statue. The “People’s Pope”
It was interesting to see this church mixed with modern and new. First time I had seen anything like it. Apparently this bothers a lot of Madrilenos. My bed and breakfast owner called it the “ugly church”
Words cannot explain what it is like for me to go to a cafe and sit. This small act is IMMENSE to me and my life. It forces me to relax, reflect and to appreciate. I feel that the CAFE is truly one of the gems of a European Experience! For me, its an elixir for my soul. My Spanish came out naturally which was odd. Must be that my Spanish becomes functional when food is involved. I ordered a Cafe Con Leche and a croissant a la plancha (grilled) The croissant was HEAVEN on EARTH! I slathered it with butter and marmalade.
It was almost like a croissant panini if that makes sense. I sat and smiled and even got teary eyed. There is something about Spain that touches my soul. I saw people kissing cheeks, 3 guy buddies drinking beer and laughing, an old man chilling and smoking a cigarette while his furry dog stared at him. People were dining outside on the patio and the waiters were swamped. I noticed that lots of girls were in dresses. After I paid my bill, I walked…and walked….I accidentally walked to Plaza Mayor and Plaza Del Sol and even walked onto Calle Cava Baja (a famous alley for great tapas)
Calle Cava Baja has some of the best tapas to try in Madrid!
I saw a street performing goat that made me laugh. Little did I realize that I would see that thing EVERYDAY. Saw protests in Plaza del Sol and of course saw my famous Oso y Madrid Bear Statue!
Walked into a Spanish clothing shop called Sferfa. Found my way back to my bed and breakfast easily. Sun went down at 10:30 P.M! Went to a tapa bar by myself. I was shy, but did it! Ordered a tapa with brie and raspberry wrapped in jamon iberico! LOVED IT! Washed down my tapa with tinto de verano. I WAS IN HEAVEN!
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON: 36 Hours in Madrid
History of Santa Maria De La Almudena
Armory Room Palacio Real. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sems.und.edu/Trips/Spain05/IMAGES/armory.jpg>.
Croissant A La Plancha. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.gjm.cz/data/gallery/cesko-spanelsko-1-1/croissant-a-la-plancha-snidane-na-stadionu-realu-madrid.jpeg>.
“Gymnasium JiÅ¾nÃ MÄsto.” Äesko. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.gjm.cz/clanky/cesko-spanelsko-1-1/>.
Mbell1975. “Royal Throne Room at Palacio Real De Madrid Spain.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 30 Dec. 2011. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbell1975/6602435131/>.
Palacio Real Rooms. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7158/6602435131_ace504fe78_z.jpg>.
Pharmacy Room Palacio Real. Digital image. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://scw.hk/images/2004COE/DSC_1005.jpg>.
“Solar Eclipse Webcast – University of North Dakota.” SEMS. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sems.und.edu/Trips/Spain05/Blog/Blog.html>.
“36 Hours in Madrid.” – NYTimes.com. 28 Jan. 2007. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/travel/28hours.html>.
“2004 July – Madrid.” My Gallery. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://scw.hk/2004COE_Madrid.htm>.