Haven’t posted in a while. Still trying to catch up on Myanmar and Thailand, it just shows we’ve done sooo much. My birthday was on the 29th of May (can’t believe it’s August!) and as a present my mum got us both a ticket to Madrid for 6 days and with it a ticket to see the Lumineers at the end of the trip. It feels so weird packing for such a short trip. I’m just used to packing a rucksack for 5 months and to be honest i find it a lot easier than trying to fill up this small suitcase for 6 days. We didn’t take Jed and TUT (The Ultimate Traveller) didn’t come either.
So it was just us two, like it used to be. We boarded the plane and sat down for a 2h journey only. We arrived to a perfect temperature of around 27 degrees of the early evening. I have NEVER visited Spain.
We took the bus into the centre (which was so fast) and made our way to our hotel which was right in the centre. We got slightly lost but after bringing some of the Spanish sentences we learnt in Central America into use we got there.
On the first day we set out to the Museo Nacional Del Prado. It’s the main arts museum in Spain. It has some great artists paintings in here such as some by – Goya, El Greco, Rubens, Lopez, Caravaggio and the main one and the one we came to see which is Hieronymus Bosch. At the moment the museum has the full collection by Bosch until September when it’ll be moved again. But the famous painting – The Garden Of Earthly Delights – remains here full time.
We had a look around and the paintings were all amazing although most of them are of people, Christ and angels which (apart from the angels) don’t appeal to me. Although Bosch is a whole different style. To imagine that he thought of these ideas and creatures in the 1400s is quite remarkable. I think even if you are not keen on his paintings you have to admire him.
We took a look in the botanical gardens which were well maintained and beautiful. Mum thought the concert was being held here but turns out it is in a different botanical gardens, outside of the city near the university. We found this out later on and mum was shocked as this is why we booked the hotel so close to the gardens. But we wouldn’t have been able to stay out there anyway.
In the evening we meandered through the back streets and wandered into the hood of the city where all the citizens seemed to hang out or live.
The next day we made our way to Plaza de Mayor, a really famous square in the city. It has a total of 9 entryways and is huge and beautifully thought out.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is quite a sight with its huge courtyard and surrounding gardens. Although we didn’t go inside choosing rather to visit the Almudena Cathedral across from the palace. We walked it up the tower and we were rewarded with marvelous views of the city.
Once inside the main hall in the cathedral one could appreciate the phenomenal work gone into constructing this beautiful building. We lit a candle and took a look around.
The day after we found ourselves walking down the main road at 9am. The sun hadn’t crept it’s way through the streets of Madrid yet so we walked in shadow with a clear blue sky above us. It only took us around 20 minutes to walk to the train station. It was a uniquely made building and inside glass panels ran all the way down the centre of the ceiling with trees and plants trying to grasp the ceiling.
The train was so fast, we zoomed along the Spanish countryside. It was mainly dry farmland making it almost as if we were in the desert. We arrived in Toledo 30 min later.
Toledo is 70 km south of Madrid. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. The city is surrounded by a stone wall and inside that wall are amazing beautiful cathedrals, palaces, houses, streets and museums. It is known as the ‘City Of The Three Cultures’ as Christians, Muslims and Jews have all lived here.
We walked outside of the small train station and along the main road towards the city that glistened on the river making it seem like two cities admiring themselves on top of one another.
Instead of going into great detail I’ll let the photos do their job as I could type for ages on this city;
We spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon on a huge market in the centre of Madrid selling anything from clothes to toys to earrings. It was really easy to get lost.
We walked it out of the centre to the Egyptian temple of Debod. It’s a gift from Egypt for when Spain helped them move the temples when Egypt made the Aswan Dam as they needed water for the fields. It was weird seeing it in a city in Europe after seeing a vast amount of temples in their original setting having been to Egypt last year for 3 months.
After looking around the temple I spotted some cable cars stretching out of the city into the countryside so we decided to go on it. Apart from music blasting out of the speakers we had incredible views and we had the whole car to our selves. At the other end we walked about in empty arid countryside enjoying some peace.
On our last day we walked over to the largest park in Madrid – The Buen Retiro Park -. The park seemed to go on for eternity with it’s vivid green bushes ad trees and it’s colourful flowers and fresh fountains. A boating lake lay in the centre of the park. We rented a rowing boat and for the majority of the morning I rowed mum around watching people spin in circles.
We took the tube to a stop before the one outside the university area and walked the rest of the way later on in the afternoon. Once we arrived we expected to see shops, restaurants and bars but nothing was here and we were ravenous. We ended up eating in the metro station.
We queued up outside the park near the university with loads of young students. They opened the gates roughly 2 h later at around 8:30pm. The band started at 9 ish and the evening began. The Lumineers. Even better in real life. The crowd was great and the Spanish people seemed to know the songs word for word. We sang and danced into the night until 12 pm. It was amazing and memorable.
By the time we were home and asleep it was 1 pm and we had to wake up at 7 am to get the metro to the airport to then leave this incredible European city. Thanks Madrid, we love you.