Tag Archives: Madrid

An afternoon in Madrid, España

For this week’s post in my series documenting my trip to Spain two months ago, I thought I’d show you one very pleasant afternoon that we spent in Madrid.  One of the highlights of my trip was meeting up with blogger friends and I believe Marién’s blog Te Veo en Madrid might have been the first blog that I followed several years ago when I began blogging.  Certainly it was the first blog in Spanish that I followed.  We became friends via the blogosphere and decided to meet while my family and I were in Madrid in March.  Wow, it’s already been two months ago, heavy sigh…..But, I am keeping the trip alive by relating my fun experiences and sharing photos.

Marién invited us to tour the Realistas de Madrid exhibit at the Thyssen museum so we met her there to begin our afternoon.  It’s an exhibit of many pieces of art from a group of painters and sculptors who all lived and worked in Madrid.  It’s going on until May 22 so if you’re in Madrid, do get tickets for it.  You won’t be disappointed!  Unfortunately they didn’t allow photographs so I only have two photos from just outside the exhibit:

After the exhibit Marién showed us around Las Letras neighborhood. First we saw the Congreso de Los Diputados where the attempted coup d’etat happened in 1981, while I was a student in Madrid. We continued our tour and saw many interesting shops and Marién told us that many of them change often.  We went into a shop that had handmade silk scarves that were so beautiful!!  Alas, I forgot to take photos so you’ll just have to imagine how beautiful they were.  We saw the house where Cervantes lived and died and Lope de Vega’s house and garden.  A funny aside here.  Hubby had not heard of Lope de Vega so he asked about him.  So both Marién and I said he was a famous Spanish playwright and when he asked what he wrote the only thing that came to my mind was Fuenteovejuna, a memory from over 35 years ago.  I remember my roommates from my year in Madrid were reading it for a class.  I took a brief look at his plays and poems via google and nothing looks familiar but Fuenteovejuna is emblazoned in my memory for some reason.

We talked via email about where we should eat comida (lunch) and Marién suggested one of her favorite restaurants Moratin Vinoteca Bistrot and made a reservation for us about two weeks in advance.  You must make reservations for this restaurant as it’s very popular and not very big.  The food was fantastic and the service impeccable.  If you’re in Madrid, do yourself a favor and make a reservation to eat here.  I can just about guarantee that you will enjoy it as we did.  I wrote a review on Trip Advisor.  Feel free to have a look at it via the link.

After lunch we went our separate ways but I think of that day often and I hope to meet up with Marién again when I’m next in Madrid.

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Just got home from Spain!!

Hello out there!!  I just got home from Spain and have so many tales to tell!  After I decompress and sort it all out I’ll share them with you.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride but in the meantime I thought I would share a brief snapshot of a few of our adventures.

We spent two weeks in Spain to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I had three great hotels booked and all met and even exceeded our expectations.  All the staff at every hotel were so friendly, helpful and on top of everything! We had some bumps along the way but overall it was a resounding success.  I met up with several blog and travel forum friends and ate fabulous food.  The weather was not at all ideal and was windy most of the time.  But you can’t plan on the weather and we carried on with most of our plans and had a great time.

Okay, as promised, here is a gallery of some of the things we saw.  I’ll be back soon to tell some tales.

Malaga:

Madrid and Toledo:

Córdoba and Barcelona:

 

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so…….I’m going back to Spain

We are planning to take a two week trip to Spain during spring break next year.  EEK! It’s NEXT year already!! Wow, how the time it does fly.  And I thought I’d create a blog post just for it.  It’s good to have a rough agenda of at least where you’ll be and to have hotels booked.  We will be staying in only three cities this time, Barcelona, Madrid and Málaga, which will allow us a few day trips. This differs from our last two week adventure 5 years ago when we stayed in too many cities.  Oh, it was a fabulous trip, but it was a bit too much travelling between cities.

We know the hotels we’d like to stay at in Madrid and Málaga but we haven’t yet chosen our hotel for Barcelona.  Perhaps there are other travelers out there that could give a recommendation?  Either way, here are two that really interest me.  We need a hotel that is close to a metro, not on the Ramblas but a short walk to it would be great. It should be able to accommodate three people.  Both of these hotels meet those criteria.

First is Villa Emilia.  It’s #23 out of 516 hotels in Barcelona and it gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Here is the hotel’s website.

Next is Condes de Barcelona which is #96 out of 516 hotels, also gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Hotel Condes de Barcelona’s website.

We will take a flight from Minneapolis and fly through Amsterdam both directions.  After our Paris fiasco, we are hesitant to ever fly through Charles De Gaulle again. One day I might write a blog post about it.   But I digress.

We’ll get to Barcelona on a Saturday and I’m really hoping we don’t miss the sardana at the catedral on Sunday at noon.  Or perhaps we should take a flight out on Thursday so that in case we have jet lag we won’t sleep through the sardana like we did 5 years ago. That’s a possibility.

Here is our rough itinerary as it is right now.

Day 1 (F) – fly to Amsterdam

Day 2 (Sa) –  arrive in Barcelona

Day 3 (Su) – Barcelona- try to see the Sardana at noon in front of the catedral; Picasso museum in the afternoon. (Check website for the Picasso museum to see if it’s still free on Sundays and adjust accordingly)

Day 4 (M) – Barcelona-Gaudi day? (Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batlo, La Pedrera)

Day 5 (Tu) – Barcelona- do leftover Gaudi stuff we didn’t get to yesterday because, really, that’s a lot! We’d also like to reserve at least one restaurant for a fabulous meal.  I have a few places bookmarked but nothing picked out as of yet.  Any recommendations?

Day 6 (W) – to Madrid

Day 7 (Th) – Madrid – day trip to Segovia(weekly flea market on Th from 8 to 3); make reservations at Meson de Candido? (open 1-4:30) or Restaurante Jose Maria? (TA reviewer said lamb is great)

Day 8 (F) – Madrid

Day 9 (Sa) – Madrid – day trip to Toledo (meet ladyofthecakes!! I hope)

Day 10 (Su) – Madrid – Rastro, Retiro, Reina Sofia is free from 1:30 to 7:00 (El Brillante afterwards)

Day 11 (M) – Madrid

Day 12(Tu) – to Málaga (take early to mid afternoon train)

Day 13 (W) – Málaga

Day 14 (Th) – Málaga – day trip to Cordoba

Day 15 (F) – Málaga

Day 16 (Sa) – Málaga

Day 17 (Su) – fly home

There are some things that I want to get done ahead of time.  Plane tickets are obvious, but I also want to book hotels and purchase train tickets.  There is a post on TipAdvisor that describes how to purchase Renfe train tickets online.  It’s very helpful and I’ll be perusing it once again towards the end of this year to freshen up on how it works. There are updates all the time to this post and it’s a great tool. One other thing I need to make reservations for are some restaurants where we’d like to dine.  One for sure is Posada de la Villa, which is a favorite of ours.  As you can see above, I would also like to reserve a spot at a restaurant in Segovia.

So many little things go into planning a trip.  I will be refining this as it gets closer to our departure and this is what I’ve got today just 13.5 months prior to departure.  But who’s counting?? Ha ha.  I’d love any comments and suggestions for any piece of this trip.  Thanks so much!! I’m going to close with some photos of the places we’ll be visiting next year.  NEXT year!!!  Yay!

La mezquita, Córdoba:

La mezquita, Córdoba, Spain

It will be fun to see the progress of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona:

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of my favorite cities in the world and this is a treasured spot – Plaza Mayor – Madrid:

Plaza Mayor - Madrid

One of my other favorite cities in the world, Toledo:

And, one last one.  Teatro Romano, Málaga:

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Real Jardín Botánico – Madrid, España

While planning our trip to Spain for May 2010, I read about the Real Jardín Botánico and could not believe that I never went there when I lived in Madrid as a student. I penciled it in for the end of our day at two of the three great art museums in Madrid.  I was so glad that we did, it was better than I expected and that’s always fun. Below are highlights from our visit to this peaceful oasis in the busy city that is Madrid.

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There were these interesting sculptures there too:

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I highly recommend this wonderful garden for anyone visiting Madrid.

 

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the worst day of the trip – Toledo, May 2010

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while and I guess it’s finally time to write it out.  What was “supposed” to be a magical day on our trip to Spain in May 2010, turned into the worst day of that trip unfortunately.  It was my 50th birthday and the reason for the trip, what we had saved and saved and saved for many years to do. Not only to go to Spain to celebrate, but also to spend my birthday in the city that had enchanted me over 30 years ago, Toledo.

Ah…the best laid plans of mice and men.  This theme tends to come up over and over in my life.

About 3 hours after we arrived in Madrid, our second stop of a two week adventure in Spain, I came down with an awful cold. The next day we had planned to go to both the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Prado, and although I enjoyed both museums immensely, I was not feeling well at all. The next day we had train tickets for Toledo.  I woke up feeling even worse than the day before but we had to go to Toledo, so off we went.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad, just mostly all bad, ha ha.  I tried to make the best of it but sometimes it was just plain hard to do.  So many things were closed, the alcázar, El Greco’s house, and the one where the woman practically slammed the gate on me, the Santa Cruz museum.  I had read in a couple of different places that this museum did not close for siesta. Well, on that day it did.  Here’s a pic of the mean lady who had just closed that gate:

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But the most disappointing thing that day was going to the sword maker’s shop and finding a notice (in Spanish) that his wife (we later learned it was actually his mother, his father and he have the same name) had just died and the funeral had been the previous day so they were understandably closed.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.  We soldiered on, filled up the day, and hubby did finally get to buy his sword, he just had to come back 10 months later to do it(click here to see my post of that trip).

One positive thing about that day was that there are some nice pics from this day trip and I’m sharing them here.  Starting with the newer train station built with mudejar architecture:

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And the windows inside are beautiful:

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Typical streets in Toledo:

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The food was fabulous everywhere we went in Spain and Toledo is no exception. Here is a plate of sausage, anchoa y aceitunas (anchovies and olives), a pork and fries dish and pan (bread), always there is pan.

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The alcázar, which was closed:

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The most scenic countryside:

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Love the mudejar architecture:

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We went in the enormous and beautiful catedral, here it is from the outside(no pics allowed inside):

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And then back in Madrid that evening for my birthday dinner at Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world.  Here we are toasting my 50 years:

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Dinner was fabulous and I wished I had had room for dessert. Alas, it was not to be but I did start to feel just a little bit better after dinner and then the next day a bit better yet and the cold eventually went away.

The rest of the story is that we went back to Toledo the following March, had the best short trip in doing so and it made up for this one bad day I experienced there.  Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid and I recommend it highly.

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Madrid then and now

At the end of August 1980 I embarked on a new journey.  I went to Madrid to spend my junior year in college as part of a group of about 30 students from Cal State colleges.  It was a momentous year, full of fun and new experiences.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t homesick, I certainly was.  But I did manage to have a good time and I did a bit of traveling while in Europe.  And Spain left an indelible impression on me that’s stayed with me all these years.

After one month of our curso intensivo (intensive course) and living in a dorm, we all moved to various places across the city and went to classes at the University of Madrid (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras).  I lived with 8 other people, 7 of them were students.  One was a young Japanese woman named Mitsuko who knew no English so we communicated with her in Spanish.  We occupied two apartments with 5 of us living on the 6th floor, the other 3 lived with our two señoras, who were sisters, and their mother on the 4th floor.  Our señoras fed us and washed our clothes and it was a pretty good deal, especially for the 5 of us that lived on the 6th floor. We had more independence than our roomies on the 4th floor and we really liked that.

I decided to visit the building I lived in all those years ago when my husband and I were in Madrid last March.  I had not kept in touch with my señoras so I had no idea what to expect. I bumped into a nice, older lady who was entering the building and she let me in.  I asked her if she knew Teresa y Aurora, if they still lived here.  She thought a moment and then said “Hermanas?” (sisters?) Yes!!  She knew them and yes, they still lived there!! My heart began to race I was so excited to learn this.  And then, will they remember me? It was, after all, nearly 30 years since we had seen each other.  The nice lady and I had a lovely chat and she complemented me on my Spanish and how important it is to keep it up. She told me that my señoras no longer have students living in their apartment and that they rent out 6C, the apartment that I lived in. Really, really nice lady. It was so nice chatting with her. And then we parted ways, she offered to hold the elevator for us but I preferred to take the stairs, for old time’s sake. I went up and down those stairs countless times when I lived there.

We climbed the stairs up to the 4th floor, I held my breath and knocked on 4A’s door. No answer. I knocked again.  I knocked one last time but there was nobody there.  I came so far and I didn’t get to see them.  It was so disappointing. Next, we went up to the 6th floor and knocked on 6C’s door.  A young gal answered and I began in Spanish and then realizing that she was probably American asked if she spoke English. Sure enough, she was from California so I took the easy way and spoke English with her.  I told her I had lived in the apartment 30 years ago and “would you mind if I took a look around?” She tried to explain that the place was a bit of a mess but I didn’t care, and she let me in.  How weird it was to be there after all these years.  I swear all the pictures on the walls were the same as when I lived there. And the furniture looked the same too.  I was struck with how small it was.  How did it shrink all these years later? Well, I got a little thrill seeing my old place and the gal offered to give a message to my señoras so I told her my name and I’m sure they got my message.  I also followed up with a letter a couple of months after we returned and sent a pic from 1981 and a pic of me standing in front of the stairs(above) from 2011.  I haven’t heard from them but I hope to see them the next time I’m in Madrid.

Most of the group that I lived with. Aurora is standing at left, Teresa at right. I'm the first one seated at left.

Calle de Meléndez Valdes, the street I lived on in 1980-81

Fighting the crowds at El Rastro - Madrid's weekly flea market

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Me encanta Madrid otra vez

This is my second post about Madrid.  The first one was me playing around to get a feel for posting in general and it can be found here:  Me encanta Madrid

Below are more pics of Madrid mostly taken on our trip there in March 2011.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor detalle – Felipe III

Plaza Mayor detalle

A los heroes populares del 2 de mayo – Puerta del Sol

Kilómetro zero – the point from which all distances are measured in Spain (Puerta del Sol)

El oso y el madroño – emblem of Madrid (Puerta del Sol)

Botin – the oldest restaurant in the world

Botin otra vez – front door

Las Cuevas – where the bartender remembered us!

Plaza de España – Don Quijote y Sancho Panza

Don Quijote y Sancho Panza detalle

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