Thursday, August 30, 2012

Europe 2012: Spain (Part 1)

After spending a couple hours sitting among a group of Italian soldiers in the airport, I boarded my flight to Madrid, Spain.  I made my way to the metro, figured out how to buy the correct ticket and hopped on board.  After a few train changes and lugging my too-heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs (with a little help from a very friendly Spaniard) I found myself in the Barrio de las Letras, home base for the next 5 days.  Since mi amiga Kirsten would not be arriving until early the next morning, I had all afternoon and evening to entertain myself.  After settling into the apartment, I quickly set out to find internet, food and a much needed hair product.  I was pretty proud of myself for finding all 3 rather easily and didn't get lost!  It was fun wandering the streets, taking in the sites and just trying to absorb as much culture as possible.  I even stumbled across a really cute market, bought some delicious fresh produce and a few tasty baked goods.
The neighborhood
Cute apartment!

Great kitchen!

Cream puffs and amazing strawberries = happy me

Madrid scenery

 The next morning Kirsten arrived from her transatlantic (red-eye) flight.  We hadn't seen each other in 18 months so it was great to reunite!  We set out for breakfast and had a delicious meal of churros con chocolat, tea, zumo (fresh squeezed OJ) and pan de tostada.  Later we explored the Parque de Retiro which included befriending a cute kitten and a boat ride on the "lake".  After some more walking, exploring, stopping in at a few churches and lunch, we visited the market and bakery I had found the previous afternoon to load up on more goodies.  Then it was nap time!

Iglesia de San Jeronimo - a favorite church of the Royal Family

Met this cutie in the parque
Enjoying the sun, scenery and company 
Professional rower right here
Pork products, anyone?

Bakery display
After a little nap, we opened a bottle of wine, enjoyed the sunset from our tiny patio, then set off to find food.  We stumbled across a cool looking restaurant and ended up having a fabulous meal.  After dinner we did a little bar-hopping, came across more than a few sketchy characters but in the end we made it back to the apartment safe and sound.

Post tequila shot:  Who's idea was that?

Sangria at the club
 The next morning we were late risers.  After breakfast we spent a little time at the Caixa Forum, a free art museum with a famous vertical garden.  We also spent more time wandering around the streets of Madrid.  We then packed up a picnic lunch and headed off to see Plaza Mayor.  After lunch and a little window shopping, we stopped in a Casa Patas to make reservations for a Flamenco show that evening then headed back to rest up/prep for another night on the town.

Vertical garden at Caxia Forum
Picnic in the Plaza 
We made a quick change, enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine, then headed off to catch the Flamenco show at Casa Patas.  We settled in with some sangria and Marcona almonds to watch an amazing show.  Neither of us knew what to expect and both were pleasantly surprised with the entertainment.  The dancers and musicians were so into their performances and it made it that much more enjoyable.  After the show we went out for a dinner of tapas but were sadly disappointed with the food quality.

Sangria makes us happy!
Flamenco dancers
We still had another two full days together in Madrid so the next day we set out for Toledo.  More on our day trip and our final day in Madrid in my next post!


  1. Does late riser mean you were hung over? : )

    1. Haha, actually no! We were just out until 3 or 4 in the morning so we slept pretty late. Luckily, despite a decent amount of alcohol consumption throughout the trip, I was never hung over once :o)