Thursday 5th May, 2011
Sleep was good last night. I think we were both so exhausted, that neither of us woke up during the night. We managed to wake up early and headed out just after 8am. We walked up La Gran Via and noticed that the sun was just making an entrance. I've travelled so much in the last few months I have forgotten what a normal sunrise/sunset hour is lol.
We found a place called 'Cafe & Te', which means coffee and tea, on La Gran Via. We thought we'd eat breakfast here and we would get more adventurous abit later in the day. Cafe & Te is a chain coffee shop and you will see them all over Madrid, as we started noticing during our stay. We both ordered Cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and toast with tomato and cheese with a side of vegetable oil. It was so yummy and tasted just like mum's food back home.
The shops don't open here until 10am, but in saying that, they have a 2 hour siesta from 2pm to 4pm and then open late till around 9-9.30pm. We walked over to La Plaza Del Sol, which is a major central point. The morning was now starting to get busy with workers, school children transport and tourists!!! We bought our Hop on, Hop off Tourist Bus Tickets from here and because it was still early, we starting walking and exploring.
We found our way to the Plaza Mayor and Communidad De Madrid. From there we found a huge fruit, meat, vegetable, coffee, sweets, market and we had salmon and tuna tapas and vino blanco all before 10am! Awesome. We wondered the cobble stone streets and found lots if little shops of puppets, silver, wine, souvenirs, religious items. We also so alot of Churches. The Churches have the most intricate details and once inside, you have never seen anything like it. I recommend visiting the Churches in Spain. Even if you are not religious, it's truly a must see. You are not allowed to take photos inside the Churches, but I was able to sneak one in before I realised I wasn't allowed.
We made our way to the Palacio Real- Royal Palace, and the immense size of this structure was just so beautiful. It was perfect and white and guarded by a high, wrap around gate. Next to it was the Catedral De La Almudena and Palacio Duques De Uceda Viaducto. We crossed the street over to a small park that lead up to the Real Cinema, where, nearby was a stopping point for the Tourist Bus. We had 15 minutes to kill, so went inside a bar just opposite the bus stop to re-energise on more tapas and drink
The Tourist Bus soon came around and was quite full, but we managed to get two seats on the top open level. The day was warm and sunny and perfect for some open deck viewing. The Tourist Bus took us all over the city. After revisiting the sites we had previously walked to, it took us to the other side of the city, where we would see the Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Del Prado, Iglesia De Los Jeronimos, Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Biblioteca Nacional Puerta De Alcala (which is the 'door' to the city) just to name a few.
For lunch we decided to get off at El Parque De El Retiro. This is Madrid's answer to Central Park in NYC or Botanical Gardens in my Sydney. The moment you enter the park, you notice the spacious, lushious green grass and playground area for the children. It' a very big park with lakes and running trails. As we sat outside the cafe, we immediately felt relaxed as we we listened to the street busker playing his guitar as we
waited for our bocadillos (sandwiches with ham and cheese) and jug of sangria
Madrid is truly a beautiful, old city, with so much history and amazing architecture. That night we went out for some Spanish Paella at La Plaza Mayor.