Madrid, Spain

Mar 13, 2007

We visited Madrid in early November, together with another stand-by family of three. Our Zagreb plane arrived in Frankfurt late so we missed the morning flight to Madrid. Luckily, Lufthansa flies almost every two hours, and although the plane was fully booked, thanks to some no show passengers, we managed to board the plane. After two hours and a bit more, we landed in sunny Madrid.

At the airport we bought a ten-journey ticket for 6 euros. Metro Line 8 is the only line that connects Barajas Airport and Madrid. In order to get to the center you need to change at Mar de Cristal.

Hotel Ingles in Calle Echegaray boasts having Virginia Woolf stay there on her Madrid trips. It’s centrally located and English is spoken there. The latter should be something we take for granted when traveling, but here in Madrid it was rather an exception. I used my poor knowledge of Italian to communicate with people, but it was incredibly difficult. In Museo del Jamon, for example, the waitress gave up on us so we left without trying paella. I just don’t believe that in a city as crowded with tourists every day of the year they don’t speak any foreign languages. And what’s more, they don’t seem to bother.

Puerta del Sol, the most well-known place in Madrid and the zero kilometer of Spanish roads is one of the busiest squares in Madrid. There are the mounted statue of King Charles III, the bear and the strawberry tree (madrone), the Tio Pepe sign and the famous tower clock whose bells mark the grape eating tradition on December 31, among other landmarks.

Calle Mayor leads to Plaza Mayor, an arcaded square with the statue of King Phillip III in the middle. Since the 17th century it has been used for public celebrations and festivities, bull fights, coronations and executions as well.

Cathedral de la Almudena, a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena, was built in the neoclassical style to match the nearby Royal Palace. The interior, however, is surprisingly modern. After more than a century of construction, the cathedral was consecrated in 1993 by Pope John Paul II.

Palacio Real is one of the most magnificent royal palaces I’ve ever seen. It’s huge, and only one part of it is open to the public. From Campo de Moro, a beautiful park, the view of the palace is breathtaking. Plaza Oriente with statues of kings and queens is in front of it.

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