What was really neat was that our room at the hostel is located in Plaza Mayor and we were about to go out onto the balcony and look out into the plaza below.
After we settled into our room, we ate lunch that we had brought with us from home. Then after we ate, I was looking out on the balcony after I was ready to go out and saw that people were gathering for a free tour so I told Christina and we ran down to catch it. On this tour we learned a lot about the history of Spain, especially about the kings and what they were known for. We also saw the oldest restaurant in the world. Other stops along the way included the cathedral and the royal palace.
|In front of the Royal Palace of Madrid|
|Felipe IV in front of Royal Palace|
|Plaza de Isabel II and the Opera|
Our tour ended in front of the Opera in Plaza de Isabel II.
After our tour we decided to walk around and see what we could find for ourselves in Madrid. That's when we stumbled upon the largest doughnut that we have ever seen and decided that we had to buy it and try it. (It wasn't as good as I hoped it to be.)
We wandered around for the rest of the day and got dinner in Plaza Mayor where the waiter was really cool.
The next morning we got up fairly early so that we could get to the Museo de Prado before it got too busy. Unfortunately they do not allow photos so I don't have any of the inside of the building. Inside I saw sculptures from Roman and Greek time, and paintings by Velázquez, Sorolla, El Greco, and Goya. I have studied these pieces and given presentations on them so it was really cool to actually get to see them in person. I was really impressed by the size of these paintings because when I went to the Louvre I was astonished by how small the Mona Lisa actually is.
|Museo del Prado|
|Ayuntamiento de Madrid|
|Puerta de Alcalá|
After lunch we wanted to explore Parque del Retiro where we found some really interesting trees (that look like broccoli to me), the lake where people can rent boats and row around, Palacio de Cristal, and Palacio de Velázquez. I thought it was pretty cool that inside of the Palacio de Cristal that they had a collection of fossil bones hanging from the ceiling.
While we were wandering around the city it started getting dark and we were lucky enough to have ended up outside of the Royal Palace in front of the gardens to see the sunset. I think that was one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend. (In my picture I was able to capture the picturesque sunset along with the palace, its gardens, the moon, and a little bit of the city behind the palace.)
|Another view of the palace from the gardens during sunset|
The next morning we were off to see the Temple of Debod. This was really neat to see because this temple was a gift to Spain that originally was in Egypt. Inside there are hieroglyphics on the walls and I was able to explore various rooms. Behind the temple there was a really cool view of the city.
Our last few hours that we had left we continued to walk around the city and we found Plaza de España. And before we left, we finally found the bear and tree statue, which is the official symbol of Madrid. We didn't know but we passed it a couple times in Puerta del Sol.
|At the fountain in Plaza de España|
This weekend I tried two very typical foods of Madrid, which are Calamari sandwiches and candies that are shaped and taste like violets.
This week begins Las Fallas in Valencia, which is a huge celebration in honor of St. Joseph. This will include a lot of fireworks, parades, food, and fires. I can't wait to share all my experiences during this celebration in my next blog next week!