Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Madrid - Day 1

On Friday morning, we got up around 5:00 and headed to Zurich Flughafen for our flight to Madrid. We got to Madrid around 10 and took an Airport Express bus into the center of town. The first thing we saw was the Palacio de Communicaciones which is one of the coolest buildings in Madrid and houses the Post Office. But I forgot to take a picture! 

From there we walked over to the Plaza de la Independcia to see the Puerta de Alacla. 

Then we meandered through Parque del Retiro- a massive park in the middle of the city. It was really pretty and even though it was the middle of the day on a Friday, there were tons of people working out in the park. There were even several fitness stations and group exercise classes for elderly folks! The park was also seriously crowded with people in small tour groups wearing Spanish Red Cross 150th Anniversery tshirts and backpacks. I can't find out exactly what was going on though, because all google wants to tell me is that the new Spanish queen was there. 

After the park, we decided it was time for lunch. We meandered through town looking for something authentic looking that wasn't filled with tourists. This was actually pretty hard to do as the advertising method of American Chinese restaurants has taken over the city and all the restaurants on the main drag have picture of all their dishes displayed on a tacky sign outside their door. We ended up at a place called-- well I don't remember. We had the menù del dìa- menu of the day- with a choice of appetizer, main course, drink, bread, and coffee. It's apparently really common in the city, even for the locals because they can eat their main meal at lunch without breaking the bank. To start L had a green bean and tomato salad and I had a fish and potato soup. For the main course, L had a roasted chicken dish that was dripping in rosemary olive oil with French fries and I had a fried pork chop with a small salad and stemmed potatoes. 

After lunch, we wandered down to the Palacio Real and took a walk through the rooms. It was extremely opulant and they had signs in English, but photos were sadly not allowed. We also walked through the armory which was a collection of knights' armor from various kings and important people. They also had a whole lot of child sized armor from the little princes. 

Then, we went through the Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena. It's kind of a weird building because it took so long to build. Some of the parts look really old and some look really new and it is just overall not very cohesive from the outside. Inside was GORGOUS though. 

After the church, we headed to our hotel for a. It of a break then headed to Parque de la Montaña to ride a gondola across the Casa de Campo (another huge park, 3x the size of Central Park). It was a pretty view but a seriously tourist trappy atmosphere. 

When we got back to the city side, we walked through a rose garden and the Parque de la Montaña to the Tempolo de Debod. It's an Egyptian building that was given to Spain after their help saving an archeological site in Egypt. 

After that, we started meandering towards a brewery we wanted to try and looked for dinner on the way. We ended up walking down the Gran Via to get there which was insane. So many people!! The brewery wasn't in the best part of town, but we managed to find a surprisingly delicious dinner right around the corner without getting mugged, pickpocketted, or propositioned by a prostitue. I'm sure the neighborhood isn't as bad as it seemed to my outsider's point of view. For dinner, we split a pork sandwich and two "toasts." They're really into putting stuff on bread and calling it toast. One was aruglas goat cheese and fig preserves. The other was good Spanish ham and some tomato sauce that's really popular. The brewery was alright. They had an IPA and a bunch of others- which in a town of one-tap-restaurants is a huge selection! Neither of the beers we tried were very good, though. 

After that, we hightailed it out of the bad neighborhood (before dark!) past all the crazy people just heading out for dinner and pregaming on Gran Via and back to the hotel for a good night's sleep. 

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