If I had to start with a single word description of my second stop in Spain, I’d have to choose overwhelming.
I arrived in Puerta del Sol at 5:30pm on Saturday night. This was a mistake. Puerta del Sol is one of the most famous public areas in Madrid and there were only a few days till Christmas.
The Plaza was packed! I couldn’t take a single step without running over someone’s foot with my suitcase. I wound up carrying it and making haste to my hostel…which was only three minutes away…right in the middle of all that holiday action. (Thank God for dorms without exterior windows.) As it was still early, I set out for the Reina Sofia for their Free-Entry hours. Rather than boring you with my newfound passion for art, I’ve decided to do a separate blog about it. You’re welcome. One of my roommies and I went out to find sustenance at 9:45 (they eat late in Spain!) After a mediocre burrito, we called it a night.
Up and at-em early for the once weekly local flea market, El Rastro. I was forced (forced, I say!) into buying a fluffy new scarf because the wind was simply obscene.
From the market, I wandered my way through Plaza Mayor’s Christmas Market (so many Christmas Markets. All of them, all over,) over to the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Yet another large building charging ridiculous amounts of money to go in. So I didn’t. I passed it by and went to check out the Temple of Debod on the recommendation of a friend. It was an isolated area atop a hill, offering lovely views of the city. Unfortunately, at about that time, I started to question whether or not I still had toes…so I took some lovely exterior shots and moved alond, bypassing the line all-together.
From the hill, I turned in the direction of Gran Via, their largest road (akin to Broadway — complete with Mama Mia, The Lion King, and several movie theaters.) I got distracted. It happens. There was an artisan fair on the way there…and it was covered and walled. What’s that? No wind, you say!?!? Sign me up! So I browsed the tents a bit until I could feel my extremities again (though at this point, the toes were a bit of a lost cause) and purchased an awesome incense holder.
Next stop: Chocolateria San Gines for some churros and hot chocolate. This churro place has been around since 1894. It was delicious. Consider it recommended.
They gave me seven churros. I couldn’t eat more than four, so I gave the remaining three to a group next to me and went back to the hostel to relax. (At least…that was the plan.)
As I got back to the hostel, I started doing some research and discovered a previously-un-recommended museum that I desperately wanted to check out. I immediately set back out to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. What a great decision it was, too! This lesser-known modern art museum turned out to be my favorite part of Madrid. (But more on that in my separate art post.) I spent about an hour and a half there before booking it across the street to catch the final free entry hour at the Museu Nacional del Prado. In the 30 minutes I spent in the Prado, I had the self-realization that I truly don’t care about 12th-19th century art. There are only so many different paintings of Saints and Jesus that one can stand before feeling the compelling urge to bolt. So I tarried not and returned to the hostel wherein I met a new roommate and we turned right back around to visit Five Guys for dinner. (They had never had it! Don’t judge me!) Also, at some point during this day (it’s all a bit of a blur, really) I ventured into the Mercado de San Miguel and got lunch and fro-yo…because evidently it wasn’t cold enough…
A day trip to Segovia happened. Blog to follow.
By Monday evening, I was kinda “over” Spain. I think exhaustion set in and nothing seemed more daunting than exploring a single bit more of Madrid. As a result, judge if you will, I found a Taco Bell for dinner. And that, my friends, was the second highlight of Madrid for me.
The next morning, I gladly lugged my suitcase to the Madrid airport and made my way back to London.