Sunday, May 29, 2011

Madrid

So it's been awhile, huh?  It doesn't seem like we've been gone for almost two weeks.....it's flown by.  We're currently sitting off the coast of a small French island.  We'll be here until this evening and then we head to Falmouth, England where we'll disembark from The World, head into London and then make our way home on Tuesday.  It's been fabulous, but I'm ready to get home and make out with my dog!   I've really missed his face.

So, I'm going to break the trip down into several posts because there's just way too much to show and tell in one.  

We started off in Madrid, Spain where neither hubs or I had ever been.  He'd been to Barcelona on business a few times and I'd visited Costa del Sol and Marbella when I was 15, but that was 20 years ago :), so I didn't remember much.  




We spent the first two days tooling around Madrid, starting off at this market.  Reminded me of a mini Eataly in NYC.



I really wanted to take a couple of cherries out of the bottom of this display just to see what would happen, but I behaved.




This Port Sangria was the only Sangria I saw the entire stay in Spain.  It kind of surprised me because I remember Sangria being such a huge thing when I visited the first time.  Maybe because I was just 15 and thought it was so cool when my parents let me drink a glass at dinner one night.  I now prefer my wine without fruit.  And can I just say that in the U.S., we have adopted the whole "tapas" phenomenon much more than the Spaniards.  We asked our concierge for a recommendation for a good tapas restaurant and he looked at us like we were wearing tennis shoes and fanny packs....stupid Americans.  He sent us to possibly the worst restaurant in all of Madrid.



From the market we just kind of walked around aimlessly checking out the city.  There are parts which are what I expected.....old European architecture and small, alley-like streets.





And lots of pictures of Rafa.....whom I imagined was the most popular Spanish sports hero.




Until I remembered that this is soccer, or futbol, country.  This is Real Madrid's stadium right in the heart of the city.  I didn't see Christiano Renaldo anywhere but, believe me, I looked!!




The next day we hired a guide and a driver to show us the highlights of the city.



The first things we saw were these buildings, designed by some fabulous architect, I'm sure; however, they just kind of ruined the city for me.  I know, I know.....they deserve buildings with modern plumbing too, but my favorite part about coming to Europe is seeing cities where the newest building was constructed in 1850!!




Instead, they have these.  When you're outside the city this is what dominates the Madrid skyline, not the bell tower of some fabulous 14th century Cathedral.  I can see this all over the U.S.  I don't want to see it in Europe, but that's just me.



I want to see things like this centuries old bull fighting ring.  It happened to be "bull fighting season" while we were there.  We didn't go.  It's a little too brutal for me.  Did you know that the bulls only get to fight one time?  The theory being that the first time he's in the ring he doesn't know what's happening so the risk to the bull fighter is minimal, but if the bull were to enter the ring a second time, he'd have it figured out, so buh bye fighter.  Hence the single trip.  After that first trip, they kill the bull.  Nice sport, eh?



The statue of Christopher Columbus in the Plaza de Colon.



This is Alcaia Gate which was commissioned by Carlos III in 1778 and was intended to be the primary entrance to the court.  The middle arch was for the King, the two arches on each side were for members of the royal court and the rectangular openings were for the commoners.  I'm glad I wasn't around back then.  I know I would have been pissed about having to use those small doors and done something stupid like trying out the middle one and ended up without a head.



We also got to visit the Royal Palace.....well we got to see about 50 of the 2800 rooms.



Seriously?  Who needs 2800 rooms?




King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia don't actually live here, but it is still used for official state occasions.




And that was pretty much our tour.  After the palace visit we walked to lunch.



I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant.....really good food.



The best part was this.......I have pizza oven envy!




I'm yet to find a pizza oven in the U.S. built in 1642.

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