i wanted to visit Madrid first of all, to see a friend from Singapore who was having a grand European tour. it was so nice to see her again after a long time. we had such fun catching up, soaking in the sights and sampling the gastronomic Castillian delights.
first night we saw each other, we met at the oldest Tapas Bar in Madrid called, Stop Madrid. it was recommended by my french guidebook. the place was just a few steps away from Gran Via metro station, along Calle Hortaleza. i didn’t expect to find a lot of people there as it was a weeknight, but it was quite packed. and it seemed like they were mostly locals, which is a good sign.
we were not eating for two, in case you were wondering about the quantity of food on the table. you should be able to tell since there is a third wine glass sitting on the table, as seen in one of the pics above. 😉
the next day, i joined my friend and her buddies on a day tour of Toledo. it’s an ancient fortified city 20 minutes by train from Madrid Atocha RENFE station.
arriving at the Toledo train station, i could not help but marvel at the interesting architecture. the train station was lovely outside and inside.
from the train station, you could either take the bus that will get you to the town proper in less than 10 minutes, or you can take in more of the scenery on the way there by walking, which was what we preferred.
what is quite unique about Toledo is that you can find traces of Arabic influence in the architecture as it was once occupied by these people.
we stopped for a snack before heading to the famous cathedral.
i noticed that there were so many young students on a field trip. and they were mostly from France. it was quite a lovely sunny day in Toledo, the walk around the city and hiking up towards the cathedral was really nice.
we spent quite a lot of time inside this cathedral. i guess it was the highlight of the trip. as i have spent a lot of time here in France already, touring around really old churches, i didn’t find this cathedral so special anymore. although, i would say it is quite unique for its arabic influence in the architecture. and it also shows how rich the Catholic church is with all the gold and silver artifacts found in one of the vestibules.
for lunch, we went to this place called El Brocal Taberna. this one was recommended by Trip Advisor, researched by moi.
the Spanish people seem to like being late in everything, including meal times. we had lunch at 4PM. and dinner at 10PM.
back in Madrid, we chose this place to dine in, which claims that it is the OLDEST restaurant in the world as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. quite a huge claim. especially when you consider that the word restaurant is french and not spanish.
i was not able to take a lot of pictures around Madrid, especially since my last day in Madrid was spent inside the museums.
i first went to Prado Museum and lost track of time admiring the works of Velasquez, Rembrandt, Goya, et al. i especially adored Las Meninas and Goya’s Black Paintings (Pinturas Negras). although, having seen Picasso’s version of Las Meninas at the Picasso museum in Barcelona, i would say that i prefer Picasso’s version to the original. it was still quite magnificent, though. and i regret to say that i was too lazy to take pictures at this time, so i just borrowed some pics from other web sites.
from Prado museum, i hurried towards Reina Sofia museum by foot. i didn’t realize how far away it was. when i got there, i only had time to admire Picasso’s Guernica and a few of Miro’s works. i regret to say that i wasn’t able to see the temporary exhibit on Dali’s works.
but then when i got to the airport, i found out my flight would be delayed for an hour. i took Iberia Airlines, btw. they have this teeny tiny Canadian planes flying from Toulouse to Madrid and vice-versa. it was a bit too small for comfort. my bag didn’t fit in the cabin. i had to squeeze it below the seat in front of me. it barely fit in there too.
since i didn’t have time to buy pasalubong around Madrid, i stopped by some shop to get some charcuterie and sweets. they were quite expensive.
the sweets were not so good, but the pata negra was worth every cent.
i really enjoyed every bit of my trip in Madrid. It has somehow shown me a glimpse of my roots from learning more about Jose Rizal, to finding more and more Filipino words rooted in Spanish, to some old habits that die hard like being late for everything and having a siesta, etc.
even the flight back to Toulouse, despite being an hour delayed was worth it, with the magnificent view of the Pyrenees from atop, welcoming me back to France.