Madrid, Spain

July 12, 2016

Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)

Hello everyone!  I'm back!  I know I haven't been updating the blog for quite some time now.  You know, the country where we currently live had just celebrated Eid al-Fitr (a religious holiday among Muslims that marks the end of Ramadan and fasting), which meant 9 days off from work for my husband and all government employees!  We've been very busy enjoying our vacation and I've decided to give my family my undivided attention during these times, hence, the hiatus.  Anyway, the celebration's over, so this blog's back to its regular programming.  As promised, today, I'll be sharing with you our family's adventure in MADRID!!!

From CDG Paris, my family and I took an hour and 45-minute flight going to Madrid.  It was a very early flight, so we arrived in Spain's capital city pretty early too, around 8:30 am to be exact.  Their airport was huge, we had to ride a transit bus (free of charge) from the arrival area going to terminal 4, where we took a yellow bus going to the city center (regular fare is EUR 5 per head and travel time is about 40 minutes).

Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)
Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)
Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)
Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)
Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain)
El Oso y El Madroño (Madrid, Spain)

After checking-in and freshening up at the hotel, we went right away to Puerta del Sol to meet my husband's dear friend, Nora, and her family, by the famous El Oso y El Madroño (a statue of a bear and a strawberry tree which had been a symbol of the city since the Middle Ages).  They accompanied us for a walk and showed us the famous landmarks in the city, after which we devoured an authentic Spanish meal at one of the restaurants in Plaza Mayor, which was really good!  Every dish we ordered was absolutely delicious, but my most favorite of all were the Paella and Tortilla (a potato omelette)!

The old city of Madrid basically covers a small land area making its major tourist attractions easily reached by foot.  One thing I loved most about the countries we've visited in Europe (Italy, France, and Spain), aside from their very efficient and reliable public transport, is their pedestrian-friendly streets which encourage both locals and tourists to walk rather than drive.  No wonder we always find ourselves doing walking tours instead of taking a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus.  It's exhausting, but I must admit that it's a really good form of exercise to burn all the excess calories we ingested from this vacation!  

Madrid, Spain
In case you find yourself wanting to get around the city, but you're just too tired to do a walking tour, perhaps, you could try renting an electric bike in one of their BiciMAD stations.

Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain
Cathedral Al Mudena (Madrid, Spain)
Cathedral Al Mudena (For church timings and directions, please click HERE.)

The Al Mudena Cathedral on the background (shot from the courtyard of Palacio Real)

With Nora and her beautiful family

Basilica de San Francisco (Madrid, Spain)
Basilica de San Francisco (For church timings and directions, please click HERE.)

Templo de Bod (Madrid, Spain)
Templo de Bod (For more information about this attraction, please click HERE.)

Madrid, Spain
A typical street in Madrid, showcasing a classic Spanish architecture

All the above mentioned attractions are open to the public for free, which I actually find very pleasing.  You know, vacationing in Europe isn't cheap, that's why I really appreciate it a lot when most of the city's major attractions are free of charge.  Not to mention, the cost of food in this place is fairly affordable too (just like in Rome, Italy)!  I guess, what I'm simply trying to say is that Madrid is indeed a really great place for tourists to explore.  It's a small city that's easy to navigate, food is cheap, and the locals are warm and approachable!  

Of all the must-see places in Spain's capital city, I had to say that Palacio Real was my ultimate favorite.  We didn't have an advance reservation for this, but it was totally fine, since there were not many tourists visiting the Palace at that time, making the process of our admission easy-peasy.  Entrance fee is EUR 10 per head and just the same security protocol in Italy and France, guests are required to pass by a metal detector and have their bags checked under an X-ray machine.

How I wish I can show you how beautiful and elegant the inside of the palace is, but photography is strictly prohibited, therefore I don't have that much photos to share.  Still a great experience though!  It was utterly extravagant and lavish, similar to the Palace of Versailles in France, or far even better (in my opinion).  Anyway, here are some of the shots we took outside the palace.  

Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)

It was still early when we finished exploring Palacio Real, so we opted to see the beautiful flowers of the Rosaleda Gardens, especially since it was spring, the perfect season where flowers should be in full bloom.  Unfortunately, the roses seemed to be not in season yet at the time of our visit (second week of April) because we didn't see any flower at all.  

Disappointed and dead-tired because of too much walking, we decided to end the day with a sumptuous meal at Viva Madrid, an old restaurant in the city where Dr Jose Rizal used to dine in the 1800s.  

Viva Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
Viva Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
Viva Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
Viva Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
Viva Madrid (Madrid, Spain)

After filling my tummy with the most delicious Paella I've ever tasted in my entire lifetime, I began to return to my normal happy self once again -- Ronnie finally got the chance to relax and breathe a sigh of relief, for I was no longer a monster anymore!  Lol!  (Guys, here's a top secret:  When we, girls, get grumpy, the best solution, really, is to treat us to a deliciously satisfying meal.  Believe me, most of the time, that's all it actually takes to save the day!)

That's basically how our first day in Madrid went.  We only had 3 days and 2 nights to spend in this lovely place, so we made it a point to check out all the city's must-sees on day 1 and do a tour of El Escorial by the following day.  Will be sharing with you more photos of the historical monastery and a glimpse of the capital city at night in my next post, so stay tuned!

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


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