Monday, September 13, 2010

Madrid and Toledo

We caught a quick, cheap flight from Lisbon to Madrid on easyjet on August 29th. By the time we got to Madrid, took the long metro ride and got to our hotel, the Hotel Santos Agumar, it was about 4pm. We were tired so we crashed for a little while in the hotel. Indy MotoGP was on, so I sat and watched some video of home.

That night we decided to just walk by some sites and find food. We walked north from Atocha up Passeo del Prado, a large, tree-covered street with a few museums along the way. We walked up to the Plaza de Cibeles and got a view of the large water fountain there. To the east a block is the large Plaza de la Independencia, home of the Puerta de Alcalá. We got some views of this and headed toward Puerta del Sol, the large, centrally located plaza of the city. We were also on the lookout for food so while we never made it all the way to Sol, we walked a lot of back alleys looking for food. It was much harder than we expected! It got late so we ended up at a little forgettable cafe. On our walk back to the hotel, I was able to take night pictures of things we had seen on our earlier walk, so it was kinda cool.

On Monday our goal was to catch a few sites around town, so we went to Atocha, bought our train tickets to Toledo for Tuesday, and took the metro to Sol. We looked around for some decent breakfast snacks but our best option for Nolan was fruit and juice from McDonalds. In the square I saw El Oso y El Madroño, the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, but didn't get a picture. I did get a picture of the statue of Carlos III, though. We started walking toward Plaza Mayor. While there was not much going on when we passed through, it is a popular place for markets and other gatherings. We were only a block or so away from the church, so we walked down to Colegiata de San Isidro. While no foto, this was a nice little church. Being right up against a small street made it hard to get a picture of the outside, but I managed. Nolan was really on his game of listening to his voice echo; he would not stop squealing! I took him out and an older woman came up to me outside and said it is ok, he is a baby. I appreciated her saying that as sometimes I feel as though people want me to take a loud child out.

As we exited the church to start walking to the Royal Palace, we spotted a grocery store across the street so we went in to check it out. While in there we decided to buy things for lunch on our own. We headed to the Palacio Real, also home to the Catedral de la Almudena (looks like a large cathedral, now an overpriced museum with limited open hours). We sat in the grass and ate our food, and let Nolan run around a little bit. After lunch we went on in to the Palace for our tour. Of course inside is no foto, but it was still pretty cool.

After our walking tour we decided to go rest at the hotel, so we walked by the Madrid Royal Theatre to the Opera metro stop. After a brief rest, we walked around the Atocha area to find some quick, simple food. Nolan fell asleep so we stopped at this little sandwich bar and ate at the counter. It was pretty good and cheap. We found Nolan some take-away pasta to eat at the hotel after he woke up.

The next day we went to Toledo for a day and Wednesday we were back in Madrid for some more sites. Kacey wanted to see a bullfighting ring and I am glad she had researched it, because it was really cool! We arrived at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas right as they were starting a tour so we joined in. The tour was in both spanish and english and we got to basically go where ever we wanted! Check out the pictures and my youtube video of the ring. When we were done we grabbed some food at the grocery store to then take to the Retiro Park and eat. After eating we had to walk over to the playground to give Nolan some play time. After a bit we convinced him we wanted to go see some big water fountains, so he ran toward the big water fountain! After a stroll through the park it was time to hit the Prado Museum for a couple hours. Unfortunately Nolan wanted to test out his voice using the echo, so I had to walk him around in the lobby for the first hour until he fell asleep. After our time here, we started walking toward the hotel. Kacey spotted a Thai restaurant, so we had to stop for dinner. It was now time to pack up and get ready for our 4:30am taxi ride to the airport to check out Barcelona!

Pictures from Madrid

I was unfortunately under the weather this day, but it still turned out ok. The train ride was only 30 minutes and direct, so we were in town pretty early. We took a bus up to the centro and started our walk. We didn't have any real definite plans but we first started walking toward Alcázar, which looked like a big fortress. Turns out it has been turned in to a library, coffee shop, and offices. We got some decent views from up there and then decided to head toward the big cathedral. We wandered through the streets until it was in view. It's size is masked by the other buildings in this hill town until you are right next to it. We had heard very good things about this church, so we went to buy tickets. €7! While the most expensive church we have been in (at that time), it is also one of the most interesting churches we had been in. Unfortunately no foto, but there are several little chapels, a large choir area, a small art gallery, and many other features. We walked around for an hour or so and decided to find some food. Due to the "Italy hill town" feel we had hopes for some good food options, but the restaurants we found were pricey and we ended up eating some small sandwiches at a cafe and Kacey ate a baked potato from a potato bar.

The next 90 minutes or so was spent watching Nolan while he slept, me not feeling well, and Kacey trying to find an ATM so we could pay to visit a few more little churches. We finally got to then visit the Parroquia De Santo Tome and the Sinagoga del Tránsito. The synagogue allowed foto and was filled with a lot of history, most in spanish. It was still interesting. From here we made our way back to the train station, only to run in to one of Kacey's classmates from school at the station!

Pictures from Toledo

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