Exploring Madrid on a Gloomy Weather

July 16, 2016

El Escorial, Madrid

One of the few things that I always pray for whenever we go on a family vacation is a good weather.  What else could possibly sabotage a tourist's hectic travel itinerary than a gloomy weather, characterized by continuous rain showers with thunderstorms?  

This was actually what happened on our second day in Madrid.  The day's weather forecast didn't favor our plan to discover more of the city's hidden gems because the entire city was covered with dark gray skies from dawn to dusk.  Nevertheless, we still made it certain to make the most out of the little time we have in Spain's capital city by carrying on with our tour and choosing an attraction where we could just spend most of our time indoors.  Thus, the impromptu El Escorial Monastery visit.

Madrid, Spain
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about 45 kilometers away from Madrid's city center.  To get here, we took a metro from Sol station going to Moncloa station, then rode bus 664 in terminal 11 leaving for El Escorial.  (Bus fare is EUR 4.20 per head and travel time is approximately an hour.)

El Escorial is a historic complex that was originally built to serve as a palace, a monastery, and a pantheon.  This day, this royal site also houses a basilica, a library, a museum, a university and a hospital.  This place is really gigantic, it's almost impossible to miss once you've reached the town of San Lorenzo!

El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid
El Escorial, Madrid

The monastery is implementing a tight security among all visiting guests -- the same protocol as most of the major attractions in Europe:  bags are checked under an X-ray machine and tourists have to pass through a metal detector, similar to those you find in airports.  I guess, it has become a mandate since the attacks last year.  I'm not complaining though.  In fact, I appreciate every effort they take to keep the public safe.  And I'm very grateful we were able to come home safe from this vacation!  (If you only knew just how hesitant I was to pursue this trip...)

Photography inside the monastery is strictly prohibited, so the only photos we got to take as a remembrance of our visit to this place were those taken from their almost empty hallways.  Believe me, those photos alone won't suffice to do justice to the beauty of this historical site.  Hence, I opted to include in this blog post a few photos I got online to give you a glimpse of how magnificent the attraction is.  

El Escorial, Madrid
The Basilica (Image source:  World Monuments Fund)

El Escorial, Madrid
The Library of El Escorial (Image source:  HelloTravel)

El Escorial, Madrid
The Pantheon of the Kings (Image source:  Manfred Horvath Photographie)

It was raining really hard during the time of our visit, thus we never got the opportunity to explore the palace's gardens.  Nonetheless, the entire tour of the complex was still absolutely worth it!  The basilica and the library were very impressive, but my most favorite of all had to be the Pantheon -- especially the underground royal mausoleum housing the remains of the famous kings and queens of Spain.

Walking around to see everything this enormous monastery has to offer would probably take at least 3 hours, add the 2 hours travel time (back and forth) and you'd probably need at least half of the day to visit and enjoy the place.  It is a really great place to discover when you find yourself in Madrid.  Definitely, a must-see!

***Admission fee to the El Escorial Monastery is EUR 10 per head.  Please be advised that the attraction is closed on Mondays.  For further information, visit their official website at http://el-escorial.com/el-escorial-visitor-information/

Enjoying his metro ride in Madrid, Spain

Spain had long daylight hours at the time of our visit (the sun usually sets at 9pm, which gives tourists, like us, more time for sightseeing).  However, since the weather didn't get any better that day, we decided to just go back to our hotel and call it a day.  It's the safer thing to do, since we didn't want to catch a flu while on a Europe tour.  

Well, apparently, that was what I thought, but my husband appeared to have a different plan -- and that's to walk around the neighborhood (even when it was still drizzling outside) to see the old Madrid at night.  Ronnie loves traveling that much, you can't expect him to stay in a hotel, doing nothing.  So he went out for a walk and came home with these photos.

Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain

You know, my husband is really stubborn like that.  But who am I to stop him from doing what he loves to do?  If that's what makes him happy, then I'm cool with it.


***For more photos, stories, and tips about our adventures in Europe, you may check the following blog posts: 


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