It was so nice to sleep in a bed without using the special bed bug pillow or sleeping in our sleeping bags so that we didn’t touch the sheets. It was also great to be able to retrieve our clothes from a closet at opposed to our packs, use a real towel, not share a bathroom with strangers, not have to pack up all of our stuff right away, and not have to walk miles to go get breakfast. We dressed in our new clothes courtesy of the mall we explored near our hotel the night before (thought I still wore my spandex leggings that I had been hiking in). We enjoyed the breakfast buffet our hotel offered and were anxious to explore Madrid.
We asked for instructions for how to get downtown and were handed a map that must have been provided by McDonald’s as, in addition to all the historic landmarks and points of interest, all the downtown McDonald’s were pointed out disproportionately large on the map as well. For some reason, the hotel did not have transportation to downtown, but a bus that would pick you up at night at 11 pm. We were told to catch a bus down the street, we were to take that bus to a light rail station and then navigate the light rail system to down town. It sounded easy enough, but making sure we got on the right bus headed the right direction with the correct amount of money while not speaking Spanish was scary. We made it to the light rail which was deeply underground. As we descended the stairs I was surprised how far down we walked to reach the trains. We were able to select the right route, which would involve some train changes, and headed off for downtown Madrid.
We selected a stop right in the center of town as our destination. Once we were above ground again, I was in awe of how bright and big the city looked. The enormous buildings were so elaborately constructed and you can get a feel for the history, grandiose design, and life that Madrid has to offer. There was a bookstore across the street from our stop and I really wanted to get a copy of Harry Potter in Spanish, so that was our first stop. From there we headed down the first grand street without a real plan in mind.
We took it all in and walked up and down and sideways along the streets of downtown. I have never been to New York, but in my mind, I imagine it to look somewhat similar. One one of the main streets we saw a few venues for Broadway type plays and shows. As we walked we talked about possibly going to see one at the end of our day. We walked miles and miles around Madrid. I know, after walking 150 plus miles, you’d think we’d have had enough, but there was so much to see. With the help of our McDonald’s map, Paul was an excellent guide. We found ourselves at an impressive building that apparently used to be the mail center for Madrid and one of the largest in the world in it’s day (per the videos they had playing in the lobby). I would have guessed that the Queen once lived there or something because of how fancy this building was. Down many of the side streets there were many little pop up shops with old books all over the place, it was really beautiful to see.
We took one of the long side streets of town to a park that Paul thought had looked interesting. It was the biggest, most beautiful park I had ever seen! It had green grass, trees, and fountains that were reminiscent of something I’d read about in a Dan Brown novel. The history of the city is amazing. There were a few food vendors in the park and a lot of people enjoying their day. Spain is a place for lovers! We witnessed this during our pilgrimage and it stayed true here in Madrid as well. Many couples laying together in the grass, lots of kissing, and lots of love. I could definitely love in a city with so much public displays of affection, it was refreshing. In the center of the park there was a huge lake where you could rent a row boat.
Not willing to pass up such a cute and romantic opportunity, the Harwoods soon had a boat of our own. We explored every inch of that man made lake and saw the park from the inside. There was a beautiful fountain on one side of the lake and we enjoyed floating around and people watching for what seemed like hours. We then headed towards where the hotel bus would be picking us up later so that we felt comfortable with the location and found a charming outdoor cafe to eat at.
After lunch we headed back to the center of the city and found ourselves at the coolest indoor market place I have ever seen in my life!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks for how cool this place was. The Mercado de San Miguel was absolutely stunning! The bright array of the colors of food caught our eye from the windows and when we eneterd, our minds were blown. It was like a billion of the hippest boutique restaurants and specialty food shops were shrunk down to the size of a closet and put inside a building with such purpose that even the colors of the food on display seemed planned to make the most beautiful panoramic picture. As we walked through the market I dreamed of recreating this back home, I know it would be a huge success.
From the market we wandered over to a big outdoor plaza that was an empty square with street performers in the middle and shops and restaurants around the perimeter. One of these shops advertised horchata. Even though I had been warned it wasn’t the same as the Mexican horchata I loved so much, I had to try it. In my clumsy Spanish I tried to order “dos horachatas” and was confused when the man started scooping out some yellow icey looking substance into cups. I walked over to the sign with a picture of the milky looking horchata that I wanted and was informed that they didn’t have any. Did he think we would notice and would be happy with whatever lemonade slush he was trying to serve us! I politely declined and we left the store. On the edge of town we saw a huge government building, it was very grand and many people were walking around the front and waiting to get inside. We were told later that it was a palace of some sort. Next to the palace was a cool labyrinth garden that we looked down on.
As it was getting late in the day and my feet were pretty tired at this point (even though we didn’t have our packs on us any more, walking several miles still takes its toll after a while), we decided to head back to the center of the city. At this point we had narrowed down or show choices to either The Lion King or A Marte Cabaret, which appeared to be a burlesque show that was heavily advertised throughout the town. We ultimately decided that we could see The Lion King back in America one day if we wanted and since it was technically our honeymoon, why not go see the burlesque show. We purchased the two least expensive tickets the box office had to offer (pretty much the back row) and headed off to find some dinner. We ended up at a place across the street from the theater where we had used the restroom earlier that day. They had a very “American” menu and I think I ended up getting a hot dog or something similar. One of the most difficult things to get used to when eating out is that no one brings you a glass of water. I asked the waiter for a glass of water and he pretended to have no idea what I was talking about. Water? What is water? I pointed to the glass on the table next to us and said I want that.
After dinner we headed to our show. It seemed as if we were the first couple to arrive. Apparently they were not anticipating a busy night because instead of seating us in the cheap seats we selected, we were sat in the second row! We ordered a snack and settled in. Neither of us speak Spanish, so here is my summary of what the show is about from a contextual and visual observers point of view: The show starts with two explorers who are in search of something, based on the sounds, it appears that they are searching for an orgasm. They find themselves on a crazy disco planet full of partially nude singers, dancers, robots, and acrobats. A master of ceremonies guides you through each act. The performances were beautiful and as I dancer I could appreciate the talent. They lost us for a bit when there was a naked man with fake plastic hair who sang and smashed eggs on himself, but in the end it turns out that all the explorers and disco aliens had to do was look into their hearts this whole time because that is where the love is. We had a fun time.
We made our way to the edge of the city to await our ride back to the hotel. While we were there I spotted a cafe offering horchata.We made our way over there and Paul ordered a coffee and I got my horchata. It was… so gross! After all that, it was nothing like the sweet cinnamon rice drink from Mexico that I love. After a long day and many more miles of walking we rode back to the hotel. I was so tired I barely remember the ride back.
<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18215003/?claim=2cg6v8qt5hg”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>