Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bienvenido a Madrid!

Hola!!! I have finally went on my first official trip....to Madrid! My friends and I took a train, taking us about 3hrs. We left early in the morning on Friday and had arrived by 12 in the afternoon.
 Nika and Katie: ready to get going!
High speed train

We checked into our hotel: Hotel Catalonia on Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in the city. Right afterwards, we took a walk to Puerta Del Sol, the central square in Madrid. We found a lovely place to have lunch and had ourselves a delicious meal.
Puerta Del Sol

After lunch, we headed towards one of the most famous parks called, Parque Del Retiro. It is the largest and most beautiful park in Madrid. There is a large artificial lake in the middle, where we rowed around. It was absolutely gorgeous and extremely relaxing. There were so many couples on the boats together...so romantic!

I will say that I am not the best rower in the world!! We ended up drifting for a while, taking in the sun.
After rowing, we walked back to our hotel and took a nap. Later that evening, we went out to a bar called "El Tigre" where if you buy a drink they give you plates of tapas...best deal ever! The drinks were extremely large in size too so that was a plus! We tried getting into a club known as Pacha, but it was expensive and extremely crazy, so we decided to head home and rest up since we had a scheduled tour in the morning.

The next morning, we had a 3hr tour, where our guide took us to numerous places. 
First stop: outside the Real Madrid Stadium, which 
seats about 90,000
By the Don Quixote Statue

Next Stop: Palacio Real
It is no longer used as a residence; more as a tourist
attraction. They said this palace was built thanks to 
tobacco smokers, whose taxes went to this.

Cute, little area we walked by

Lovely

Oldest Restaurant in the world! It 
opened in 1725 and sis still run by the 
same family! 

Plaza Mayor: a public gathering place with lots
of cafes; but on the expensive side.
 
 After, we took a trip to the famous San Miguel
market, where we had a taste of practically everything!
I was in heaven, going from section to section trying different foods.

Jamon!!!

My absolute favorite = Croquetas 

Savory wine

Super crowded; everyone wanted 
to try everything

Olives!

A salted caramel macaroon for dessert :)

By the time we got to the paella, I was stuffed...
but it definitely looked good

Later on, Katie and I went to El Prado Museum which is considered to be one of the most important art galleries in the world. It houses masterpieces by Goya, El Greco, Ribera, Velazquez, among many others. The paintings were very interesting, with many gory and intense painting; sometimes I wonder how these artists come up with these strange ideas.

Definitely worth visiting: open for free from 6-8pm too!

Madrid at night

Katie and I ate dinner at a restaurant called Lateral. It was packed, but luckily since it was only the two of us, we got seated immediately. We had a healthy meal compared to our usual dinner:
Bread with Jamon and Manchego cheese
Vegetable Tempura
Its a bit blurry, but its a baked potato that's stuffed with
Jamon Iberico and cheese with a fried egg on top
Apple Crumble

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and literally passed out. It was such a long day.
We woke up this morning, had breakfast and checked out. We went to the flea market, which consumed about 3 entire streets. The vendors sell everything from jewelry to gas masks...I'm not sure why.
Busy, busy, busy
Gas Masks Anyone??

The flea market was fun, I think once is good enough. we had a small lunch and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head home. I must say that by the end of the day, I was missing Barcelona...I missed home. Madrid was gorgeous and I hope to visit again one day. I recommend everyone to go to the San Miguel Market!!!! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful 
upcoming week! I have to get working
on my wonderful 10pg paper for History class...
Have a good day!
Besitos, Lilly Goti

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