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Madrid Spring 2007
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
madrid ilaria hotel
In our previous two-hop Europe trip to London and Italy, we learned that the second hop back home is really no fun, because you just want to go straight home, but you've got to make a pit-stop in some other country for a day. With our new knowledge, we were a bit more intelligent this time. First, we went to a different city on our way home (Madrid rather than Barcelona). And second, we set aside enough time to actually explore the city a little rather than just wait for an airplane to take us home.

Early in the day we flew Vueling from Rome to Madrid.
buddha jesus store
We went out to explore the city and were soon greeted by Buddha, Jesus,
rain plaza mayor
and a rainy Plaza Mayor (ugh).
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So we grabbed a sandwich,
plaza mayor
and hoped the rain would go away.
calamari and sausage sandwiches madrid
Ilaria had fried calamari, and I had a fried sausage that wasn't fried long enough. It was kinda cold and uncooked inside; I thought I was going to get sick. Thankfully, I only got a brief stomach ache (which I think was mostly psychological from thinking about the raw sausage).
museo del prado
The main place I wanted to see was Museo del Prado, one of the best art museums in the world. I've never seen so many paintings by Velázquez in one building. It also contains the super-famous Goya painting The Third of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid. But they don't allow photos in Museo del Prado.
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When we got back to our hotel,
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the sky was clearing up,
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so I took a few photos
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from our window.
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We left our hotel
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to take a walk around Madrid.
Our first stop was Santa María la Real de La Almudena. They decided to build this church in the 1500's, but didn't get started until the late 1800's. The church was completed in 1993 (that's worse than Boston's Big Dig).
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We walked down the Spanish streets and
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into the church.
pipe organ
It was enormous.
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I especially like the stain glass windows, which are more modern than in most churchs.
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I was also impressed that
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the church had HiDef TVs in it. Hopefully they play cartoons during the sermons so the kids don't get bored.
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The church is close to Palacio Real de Madrid, which was our next stop. Palacio Real de Madrid is the residence of the Spanish monarchy.
tango palacio real
Out front we found
tango palacio real 2
some tango.
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We left the palace
plaza de espana
and walked to Plaza de España.
plaza de espana 2
This square is a popular tourist spot. But I didn't find anything that knocked my socks off about it.
parque del oeste
From Plaza de España, we walked to Parque del Oeste, which was my favorite part of our walk. The sun was setting,
parque del oeste ilaria
so it made for some nice pictures.
ilaria fountain
ilaria fountain parque del oeste
ilaria J parque del oeste
We even took a photo together.
parque del oeste sunset
The park is on the top of the hill that looks down on the outskirts of the city.
parque del oeste sunset wedding
There were lots of folks there talking wedding photos.
palace church madrid
From the park, we could also see the palace (on the left) and the church (on the right) that we'd just visited.
temple of debod
On of the most unique features of the park -- it contains the Temple of Debod. This Egyptian temple was delivered to Spain as a thank you present from Egypt in 1968. When Egypt built the Great Dam of Aswan, it was feared that a lot of these historical temples would be destroyed. UNESCO and a few countries came in to help. Another temple was given to the USA and is inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan (you can see it from central park too).
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It was getting towards dinner time, so we walked through Plaza Mayor on our way to
cuevas el secreto
Cuevas El Secreto.
cuevas el secreto food
I think this was the best restaurant of the trip. It was really rustic inside, the menu was a piece of wood, the water and the sangria came in ancient looking jugs, and the food was very yummy but very simple (not a lot of sauces and things to cover up the flavor). Ilaria had ribs, and I had chicken. The only downside: people are still allowed to smoke in Spanish restaurants.
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With our full bellies, we hit the town.
maestro churros
I wanted to try some Churros.
Churros are fried donut-like things that you dip in a thick-hot-chocolate (health food). Ilaria thought they were too sweet. I thought they were really good.

And that was the end of our trip. The next morning, we flew home to Boston.