The Rain in Spain . . .

Hardly fell anywhere when we were there in late February and early March of 2015.

As promised (but of course much later than intended), here is the second of our now three part series about our trip to Spain.  The main purpose of the trip, as you probably know, was our participation in Diverbo’s Pueblo Inglés program in La Alberca, Spain.  But we also had a few days to see the sights of Madrid, Toledo, and Cuenca (Spain, that is!)  In the interest of getting this post published before we forget what we even did, it will be heavy on pictures and lighter on text.  If you are cheering that fact, I don’t want to hear about it.  This post will focus on Madrid.

We flew non-stop from Quito, Ecuador to Madrid (10 1/2 hour flight) on Iberia Airlines.  Since it was a night flight and we advanced six hours in time, we had a nice sleep and arrived in the early afternoon.  After checking into our hostel in the historic center just blocks from Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol, we enjoyed a self-guided walk in the brisk but clear early evening.

When I think of Madrid, I think of plazas.  It seems that at every turn, a sidewalk or narrow street opens up into a plaza.  I loved the surprise of it.  Probably the most famous plaza is the Plaza Mayor.

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On our first full day in Madrid, we went on a “free” guided walking tour (we were expected and were glad to tip our guide).  This is a really great way to get your bearings in a new city.

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Tatiana, of ogotours.com was our guide on the 2 1/2 hour tour of Madrid’s historic center.
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Bart Simpson did not go on the tour with us but Lauren from New Zealand did. We met in Puerta del Sol which is kind of like the Times Square of Madrid.
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The bear eating from a strawberry tree is the symbol of Madrid.
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Restaurante Sobrino de Botín is said to be the oldest restaurant IN THE WORLD, established in 1725. Their specialty is suckling pig. Many famous people have eaten here including Ernest Hemmingway who had his own table.  Apparently, he was quite the glutton and was said to have eaten an entire suckling pig by himself to impress a date!  Prices were a little steep for us  but we were still able to tour the restaurant.

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We did eat here, however. The Museum of Ham is not a museum at all but just a really great place to get ham (of the Iberian sort) sandwiches for very little money.
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You can also take care of any and all your cured meat needs.

Speaking of food, you can eat just about anything your heart desires in Madrid but eating with friends makes it all taste so much better.

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Some Huevos Rotos (broken eggs)
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Jamón and Chorizo
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Pinxtos (tapas of the Basque region)
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This meal was eaten in the late afternoon. Not sure if you would call it lunch, snack, supper, or what? But dinner would not have been until after 10 pm so I know it wasn’t that.

 

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Mexican restaurant in Madrid
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Churros and Chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines, probably the most famous place in Madrid to get your fat and sugar fix!
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Churros taste like a lightly sweetened donut in the wrong shape but are perfect for dipping into your cup of very thick, rich, pudding-like chocolate. I do believe we had to lay down after this “snack”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the walking tour, we sprung for a two day unlimited pass to ride the Hop On Hop Off double decker sightseeing buses.  After riding both routes and listening to the audio at least two times, we felt a little more comfortable with the layout of the city center, the history of Madrid, and how to get where we wanted to go.  Here are some pictures from those rides.

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Because of our limited time, we did not tour the Palacio Real or the Museo de Prado but will definitely do so on our next visit.  However, we did enjoy the free admission at the Museo Sofia on Sunday afternoon as well as walking through the beautiful Parque Retiro.

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The Reina Sofia Museum is housed in a building that, compared to others in Madrid, seems kind of plain. However, the artwork inside is anything but.  We especially enjoyed the Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali works.
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Parque Retiro is the “Central Park” of Madrid. We had an incredibly beautiful afternoon to enjoy a small portion of this oasis in the middle of Madrid.
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This is a juniper tree. What?!
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Children dancing to a little band. Sunday afternoons in Retiro Park are meant for families. There were magic shows, boat rides on the “see-ment pond”, skating, biking, music, food, etc.

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Near our hostel was a little alley that was adorned with these wonderful mosaics.

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For next time:  Our third and final post about Spain, featuring the cities of Toledo and Cuenca – two very easy day trips from Madrid.

If you were hoping and expecting to read about life in Cuenca, Ecuador, we’re sorry for the deep disappointment you must be experiencing.  But we think we can help.  Our friends Lance and Kathy Mentink write a wonderful blog about their life here in Cuenca and their most recent post was excellent.  Why don’t you head on over to Rambling On to see what experiences the Mentinks have had recently.  Go to http://lance-kathy.blogspot.com/

What We’ve Learned:  We did more in Spain than we thought we did!

What We Need to Learn:  Don’t procrastinate in writing a blog – it only gets harder!

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13 thoughts on “The Rain in Spain . . .

  1. Hi Mara…thanks for your kind recommendation to our blog. I loved seeing all your pictures of Spain. It looked so interesting and I am envious of your experience. I am hoping if you go again next year, I will be able to join you.

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  2. Thank you both for your very interesting “writings !” and photos.I agree with you about time flying by since our visit and experiences at La Alberca , and I still haven’t got round to commenting on them. Lorna and I also managed to visit Retiro Park on a lovely sunny day,and the main Plaza Mayor , so it is lovely to see all your photos. xx

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  3. Its nice to live vicariously through your travels. It helps make working easier when there is hope of future travel down the line. I’m trying to delay my gratification. Good for you for starting your teaching career early with the Anchorage School District!

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  4. Thanks, Joel. I live vicariously through a lot of other people’s experiences too. We can’t do it all. Hope to see you at the end of April when we will be in PDX area. I’ll email you.

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