Wednesday, March 11, 2009


A few weeks ago, right after our move into the new house, we took a short break and traveled to Madrid for a long weekend. Scott had a business meeting there, so we left a few days early to spend some time enjoying the city sights and eating lots of tapas. 
Upon our arrival, we started exploring the city by foot. One of our first sights was this lovely building that we now know is the Palacio de Comunicaciones. 
We then headed towards the Puerto del Sol which was a major centre for restaurants, shopping, transportation, and generally a lot of people. 
Puerto del sol is one of Madrid's most important squares. It is a central meeting point for young people and it is the place where people stop to go off to Plaza Mayor and Old Madrid.
As we wandered around the area, we stumbled upon the "MUSEUM OF HAM" (in Spanish of course). The sights inside were full of ham hocks hanging from the ceiling....
The ham and cheese selections hanging all around.
The menu was a photo ordering system. Perfect to point and order without having to attempt to speak spanish (which neither of us do very well!). 
Everyone just stands up at the counter and eats their meals there. It was packed at lunch time!
Our plate of Iberico ham and Manchego cheese with a side of bread. Delicious!
Scott in front of the two rows of statues in Retiro Park. (I think).
In front of one of the many decorated cows throughout the city....
All of our exploring on foot made us ready for an afternoon snack. Luckily, we stumbled upon this famous Chocolate churro shop where we enjoyed a treat.
I had the churros con chocolate - YUMMY! You eat the chocolate sauce almost like a pudding and then you can also dip the churros into the chocolate sauce (equally as delicious). 
That evening, we went in search of tapas for dinner. We ended up having our own little tapas "bar crawl" as we went from one restaurant to another to try each place's speciality's. 
Plaza Mayor at night. It was busy with people enjoying an evening walk and those who were out eating and drinking in the restaurants near by. Plaza Mayor is the central plaza in Madrid and is rectangular in shape. It is surrounded by three story residential buildings that have a total of 237 balconies facing the plaza! 
Our favorite stop for tapas that evening was our visit to the Meson de Champinon. (House of Mushrooms I believe). 
The mushrooms we had there were definitely the house speciality! MMMM...they were just so delicious with the garlic, butter, and a bit of spanish sausage in the middle. 
Sunday morning we spent our morning wandering around at the famous El Rastro Flea Market. El Rastro is a street market of medieval origin where one can find practically anything. It was quite a busy market and all of the main and side streets were packed with shoppers. Everything and ANYTHING was for sale at this market - fine leather shoes to tights to gas masks, trinkets, someone's junk and more....quite an experience!
A view of the crowds on one of the main market streets.
Spanish fans for sale.
Many leather goods were available. Scott got a new briefcase (finally) since his was taken in our robbery. 
I really wonder how many people do their nylon shopping at a flea market?
My spanish is not good but we both stared at this sign when we saw it - Does it mean your fantasy tights????? A bit silly.
Scott in the midst of the market crowd.
Gas Masks anyone?
One of the many artists who was selling her paintings at the market. Pretty paintings. 
After a wander around the market and a bite to eat, we headed to take a cable car ("el Teleferico") to get a bird's eye view of Madrid. The cable cars were originally built as part of an amusement park in Madrid but now tourists can just ride them to see the city sights. 
Getting ready to get into the car.
A view from the top of the Royal Palace in the distance and the river manzanares below.
In the Cable Car well above the city! Once we finished this ride, we ended up in the amusement park so we didn't stay - we just went back to the cable car entrance and rode the car back into the city.
On Monday, I was a solo tourist for the day as Scott began his work meetings. I decided to tour the Palacio Real, which is still the official residence for the Spanish Royal Family. 
The view of the palace as I was walking towards it. 
Just a small side of it - it was so beautiful and huge!
Inside the palace, no photos are allowed to be taken. I toured the residence section including banqueting rooms, throne rooms, etc. which was lavish and impressive. It is the second most grand palace behind Versille. I also toured the Royal Pharmacy and then finally the Royal Armoury section. This photo is from the armoury was amazing to see how much metal these royals and soldiers used to wear. I was in amazement as to how they would actually move with so much weight on them all of the time!
Self portrait in the square of the palace - just so you know I was there! :) 

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