After Portugal, we continued eastward to Spain. We chose three places (Madrid, Granada, Barcelona), each offering its own unique history, culture, food, and language, while undoubtedly being a part of the mosaic of greater Spain.
Our first stop was Spain’s capital city, Madrid. We were there for only a few days but in this short time we grew to love the place. We arrived with the presumption that this would be like any other cosmopolitan city and therefore we should just hit a few of the must-sees like the Prado and then book it out of town. Boy were we ever mistaken! Madrid was not a typical bustling city like we imagined. It was a combination of classy and quaint. Although it is a large city and there were many things to see, for the most part, it was very walkable. A few of our highlights included the Prado museum (of course), the Reina Sofia museum (had to check out Picasso’s Guernica), the beautiful Retiro Park (which we visited on an equally beautiful spring day), and the Mercado de San Miguel (a very cool foodie’s paradise).
We also fell in love with the food; the tapas, the wine, and almost equally as important, the winding alleyways that housed the local restaurants. For instance, we visited the city’s Latin Quarter, La Latina, where we walked along a charming cobblestone alleyway (near Plaza de la Cebada) that was lined with even more charming tapas bars offering delectable bites of chorizo, cheeses, etc. and some very good (and surprisingly cheap) wines. This, along with the beautiful parks scattered throughout the city, made us feel happy but a bit bummed about leaving Madrid so quickly.
Here are a few pics from our visit to this wonderful city…
The Mercado de San Miguel. One of the oldest markets in the city and a great place for “tapas shopping.” The place is packed with stalls selling a good range of tapas – from seafood tapas (yes, the razor claims drizzled with spanish olive oil were mighty tasty!) to mini burgers to different kinds of desserts. You can also grab a glass of beer or wine and peruse the stalls with it in hand.
The Retiro Park. Although Madrid has plenty of beautiful parks throughout the city, this is probably the grandest. It houses a palace, a rose garden, and has many tree-lined paths perfect for jogging. It even has a lake where people can rent boats. There are a couple very nice refreshment cafés where you can order drinks and watch some street performers. We sat outside at one of them and enjoyed the nice spring weather (we even heard someone playing our wedding song! Coincidence? I think not!).
Although, honestly, we didn’t take as many pictures here as we would have liked, if we have our camera, Kirsten always stops for quirky street art. This one, I believe, sums up the vibe in this city as well as how we all should feel: “In love with life”
Till next time Madrid, now on to Granada…..