and then to Madrid!

Suddenly it was Thursday and time for our flight to Madrid. A taxi had been arranged and took us to the airport. We arrived and so did our luggage and then we went out and met Fabiana and Alberto, whose small flat we had rented as our home base in Madrid. This was much more centrally located than we were in Barcelona. Again, we ventured out to kind of get our bearings, had dinner, and prepared for the next day.

oxox

oxox

airbnb in Madrid

airbnb in Madrid

That found us aboard the Madrid Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour. This one also had two loops, but each route had an extended version and we wanted to take it as well. Had we researched it a little better we would have boarded the bus for the extended tour first and only done each loop once. As it was, we took both loops of the tour twice and finished about 7:30-8:00 p.m. We found a place for dinner and then headed for bed. 

So many buildings...

So many buildings…

facades....

facades….

gates...

gates…

fountains...

fountains…

street signs...

street signs…

more fountains...

more fountains…

and parks!

and parks!

Saturday we headed for the Prado and were thoroughly overwhelmed by the number of things displayed. After being around so many mosques in Kuwait, it was rather startling to see all the churches both here and in Barcelona, even more though, were all the religious paintings and sculptures. 

Prado

Prado

Sunday we boarded a bus to visit El Escorial Monastery and Valle de las Caidos, or Valley of the Fallen. The monastery was quite unique in that Phillip II was so religious he built a rather austere castle around the cathedral. He could hear the mass from his bed and be served communion without leaving his bedroom. The vault below the monastery was resplendent with various colors of marble and is where the 12 kings and queens are buried.

El Escorial Monastery

El Escorial Monastery

walkway around the cloister

walkway around the cloister

through a window

through a window

 

The Valley of the Fallen was amazing! I gigantic (150 meters) cross stands built out of granite on top of a hill inside of which was carved out a basilica. It is enormous and had to have gates added to make it smaller than the Vatican due to Papal stipulations. The view was glorious and the basilica was very impressive. Here was where we had our next serendipitous event. Since it was Sunday, they were celebrating mass when we arrived and we were able to see the conclusion to the service. It included a lovely boy choir and all the smells and bells. 

Valle de los Caidos monastery

Valle de los Caidos monastery

Pieta over the entrance

Pieta over the entrance

view from the entrance

view from the entrance

Valle de los Caidos monastery

Valle de los Caidos monastery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Monday we were back aboard a bus to take us to Avila and Segovia. Avila is a beautiful walled and ancient city. The Castile León region where these cities lie is just over the Guadarrama mountains from Madrid region. There were many fields of grain, cattle, sheep, and they are reknown for their pork. Avila boasts the first Gothic Cathedral in Spain.

Looking toward Avila

Looking toward Avila

Tower in the wall around Avila

Tower in the wall around Avila

stork

stork atop the Gothic cathedral

arched entry to Avila

arched entry to Avila

Cathedral in Avila

Cathedral in Avila

Avila

Avila

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was magnificent. Then on to Segovia where we saw an old Roman aquaduct and had lunch in a local restaurant. We had to try the crackling suckling pig, which is a traditional Segovian dish/meal. It was worth trying once, but was hard to get past the cute piggy notion. The cathedral in Segovia was also beautiful. Then we headed back to Madrid and decided to have dinner at a taverna that Ananta had recommended. 

Segovia

Segovia

Aqueduct in Segovia

Aqueduct in Segovia

Segovia

Segovia

cathedral

cathedral

bell tower

bell tower

castle

castle

 

 

view from the castle

view from the castle

Cathedral

Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tuesday found us walking to the Palacio Real. Unfortunately there were no photos allowed inside. We took many out in the courtyard, where our next serendipitous event happened.

Palacio Real

Palacio Real

Across the courtyard at Palacio Real

Across the courtyard at Palacio Real

courtyard

courtyard

The Palacio is right downtown

The Palacio is right downtown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five factions of the military were practicing for a special ceremony the next day, so though it was just rehearsal it was quite impressive. We decided to lunch at Maceiro Tavern, which Ananta loved especially for it’s pulpo (octopus).

Pulpo and sangria

Pulpo and sangria

Lake in Retiro

Lake in Retiro

It really was very good. The we walked to and through Retiro Gardens, which are an enormous place right in the middle of the city. It has a lake, many, many paths, and even has a couple of streets through it.

Wednesday was our last day in Spain. We went via Julia Travel again to Toledo. It is a quaint city and we walked all over it. It was quite interesting to see the sword making shop, which was combined with the jewelry makers.

Toledo

Toledo

Cathedral in Toledo

Cathedral in Toledo

River through Toledo

River through Toledo

Synogogue in Toledo

Synogogue in Toledo

cloister garden in the Cathedral

cloister garden in the Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral

Sword shop

Sword shop

 

 

 

 

We had lunch after we got back to Madrid and tried churros, then returned to the apartment to pack and be ready to leave early the next morning.

Back in Madrid

Back in Madrid

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. allaboardforadventure
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 12:50:35

    I have tried 4 times to format this so the text is with the photos. I give up!

    Reply

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