Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Madrid, Spain (2005)

It took about six hours to drive from Seville to Madrid, so we arrived at the Hostal Adriano a few hours before dinner. Our quad was cheerfully furnished with colorful Ikea-looking furniture, but the elevator was broken and we were on the 4th floor. This was somewhat of a pain especially with luggage.

For dinner we went to a tapas bar called Taberna Maceiras, which was yummy and cheap. I especially liked their seafood dishes; mussels, clams, and a tasty octopus dish. Afterwards we walked around the Paseo de Prado and saw lots of fountains and interesting-looking buildings.

The next day we walked to the Puerta de Sol, to the Plaza Callao, and then up the Gran Via, pausing occasionally to shop along the way. I quickly decided that I liked Madrid better than Seville; the streets were wider and straighter, not paved with cobblestones, and everything was newer and grander-looking.

We had lunch at a cafe on top of El Corte Ingles (a giant department store) and then wandered over to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and its gardens.

We also stopped by the nearby Almudena Cathedral (not super impressive, or maybe we were sick of churches).

After walking through the historic Plaza Mayor, we found lunch at a wacky-looking restaurant called Malacatin. There, we paid 18 EUR apiece for a barrage of meats and vegetables, including: chickpeas, potatoes, cabbage, beef, ham, sausage, chicken, and lots of other dishes that I've forgotten. We ate ourselves sick, and then headed to the Museo Reina Sofia.

There were pretty good exhibits showcasing Dali, Miro, and Picasso, but otherwise I wasn't particularly interested in the rest of the modern art. The building itself was kind of cool looking, with glass elevators overlooking a square. We spent some time at an art fair that happened to be taking place outside.

For dinner, we ate at Arroceria Gala, which specialized in (of course) rice and paella dishes. The paella there was okay, but I still liked the version we had in Valencia best.

On our last morning in Spain, we finally got a chance to try traditional Spanish churros. The accompanying "hot chocolate" turned out to be almost the consistency of chocolate pudding, and about as rich. We'd only gotten two orders for the four of us, and were still unable to finish them. I can't believe Spanish people eat churros with chocolate for breakfast! It tasted very much like a heavy dessert to me.

We then spent a few hours at the Prado Museum. They had a great display of Goya paintings, including the 3rd of March, as well as some Velazquez, Rafael, El Greco, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio. It was quite an impressive collection.

We also drove out to the Plaza de Europa to see the new "leaning towers" and to check out that area of town, before returning to our hostel to grab our bags.

From there, it was two transfers to get to the main train station; first the Metro from Sol to Plaza de Castilla, and then the SE (special edition, presumably?) bus to the Chamartin train station to catch our overnight train to Lisbon. We got on at 10:45pm, settled our luggage (our cabin consisted of two sets of bunk beds, a sink, and not much else), played hearts for an hour or so, and then went to sleep.

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