Saturday, August 4, 2018

Madrid, El Magnifico: Awesome European Vacation Conclusion (Magnificent Madrid Series 28)

Madrid, El Magnifico 
Awesome European Vacation Conclusion 
Magnificent Madrid Series 28 

Madrid was our last stop for my family’s multi- city
European Spring vacation that commenced in Paris,

…we then flew to Lisbon, Portugal,


…then took a bus ride Caceres, Spain,

…and finally a train ride to Madrid.

Day 1

After a four hour train ride from Caceres,
we arrived in Madrid- Atocha at 2 PM,

…and we were all starving as we didn’t had
a decent meal aside from the early breakfast
before checking out of our rented apartment.

When we spotted La Pausa right inside the
Madrid train station, we decided to eat there.

La Pausa is a casual, no frills restaurant and
being located in a busy train station, was also
expectedly just as busy and teeming with diners.

It was wonderful introduction to Madrid’s culinaria,
as they served delicious authentic Spanish cuisine.
We were so hungry that we gobbled the food very
fast and they disappeared from our table in a jiffy.

We took taxi to Petit Palace Opera
and the friendly taxi driver commented
‘Kilometro Sero” perfect location, you
are in the heart and the center of Madrid.


He wasn’t exaggerating.

Petit Palace Opera Hotel, is located at the
Calle Arenal the centermost street in Madrid

…with Puerta del Sol on one end-

…and the Plaza de Oriente on the other end.

The hotel being in an old, yet awesomely
restored and well preserved building and
the rooms were spacious and comfortable

After unpacking a taking a rest for few hours,
armed with a Lonely Planet guidebook we set
up for the Old Madrid Neighborhood walk, as
recommended by this popular tourist giudebook.

It was easy to follow the guide book that recommends
 to start the walk at Plaza de Oriente,  and since we stayed in
 Petit Palace Opera Hotel, centrally located at Calle Arenal, 
 family began our old Madrid neighborhood walk from here.

Right in front is the historic 19th
century theatre Teatro Joy Eslava,

… and the Church of San Ginés
one of the oldest churches in the city.

Righr besude the church is
the Pasardizo de San Gines,

…where tourists can access another place
with history, the Chocolateria de San Ginés.

Right at the end of the street is the Madrid Opera.
one of the great theaters of Europe founded in 1818.

We crossed to the beautiful Plaza de Oriente,
a verdant square in the historic centre of Madrid.

…and marveled at the monument to King Philip IV
by Pietro Tacca  that serves as the park  centerpiece.

Right across is the Palacio Real, the official
residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but
it is only used at present for state ceremonies

We leisurely strolled at the Calle Bailén,

…until we arrived at the Plaza de la Armería,

…where we got a better view of the Palacio Real.

was just located right at the Plaza de la Armería.

…is a must see and a must visit place in Madrid.

We walked up to the end of Calle Bailén, and turned
right to the Calle Mayor to see the Muralla Árabe,
a 9th century structure where some vestiges remain
of  probably the oldest  building on foot in the city. 

We then went straight up the Calle Mayor and admired
 the centuries old buildings, in this old city thoroughfare.

We then visited the lovely ancient Plaza de la Villa.
a charming small square in the heart of Madrid, 

…surrounded by attractive buildings of contrasting
architecture as they were built on different centuries.

We went down the Calle Conde de Miranda,
to access the iconic Mercado de San Miguel.

The Mercado de San Miguel is a covered
market on a cast iron structure built in 1916,
that was renovated and reopened it in 2009.

The market is a good place to shop and dine
with numerous vendors selling a wide variety
of  gourmet food, tapas, wine and beverages.

From Calle Cava de San Miguel,

…we accessed the Plaza Mayor
thru the Arco de Artesana.

Madrid’s Plaza Mayor was built in 1580,
and  surrounded by three-story residential
buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. 

After our Plaza Mayor visit, we crossed the Calle Mayor, and 
traversed the Calle de las Hileras, and returned to CalleArenal.

We concluded our first day with a delicious
Asian cuisine dinner at Bangkok Restaurant.

It was almost a four hour leisurely walk
in Madrid’s old and historic neighborhood,

Day 2

It was our second day in Madrid and after eating
breakfast at the hotel , we were scheduled to visit
the Prado Museum and the El Retiro District.

We began our walk from Calle Arenal, 

....where we lingered a little bit  to watch
musicians performing Marriage of Figaro
in front of the historic Joy Eslava Theater.

We then headed to Puerta del Sol, one of the best
known and one of busiest public square in the city. 

This is the centre and dubbed as Km 0
of the radial network of Spanish roads.
so everything begins right on this plaza.

We traversed the Calle de Carretas,

…that led us to the Plaza Jacinto Benavente,
and marveled at the sculpture of a sexy woman’s
legs sticking out of the Teatro Calderon’s façade.

We crossed the road to the nearby Plaza del Angel,
and leisurely walked down Calle de las Huertas,

a quaint pedestrianized road, famous  
for its cafes, tapas bars and restaurants.

We bought snacks from  Lola Market,

…and rested for a while on a roadside bench.

We later walked downhill, and ended in Calle Moratin,
that finally led us to the Plaza del la Plateria de Martinez.

We rested to a while at posed for photos at
the side walk park at the Paseo del Prado,

…and walked our way to the Museo Prado.

We bought tickets and stayed there the whole day.

Also known as El Prado,

…it is one of the most visited sites in the world, and also
considered one of the greatest art museums in the world.

After our visit to the museum, we
exited at the Calle Ruiz de Alarcon,

…and marveled at the 16th century
Church of San Geronimo el Real. 

We traversed the Calle Academia,

We accessed the Puerta Felipe IV,

…and was amazed by the beautiful
gardens at the Plaza Partere.

The Buen Retiro Park is oneof the largest parks in Madrid.
We a leisurely strolled towards the northwestern gate,
that served as the main  entrance to the verdant park.

Right in front of the Buen Retiro
is the Calle de la Independencia
 where the Puerta de Alcala is located.

The Puerta de Alcalá is a massive Neo- classical monument 
at the Plaza de la Independenciand recognized as the
 first modern post-Roman triumphal arch  in Europe.

After taking souvenir photos at
the Plaza de la Independencia,

… we decided to take the Calle de Alcala route
on our way back to our hotel in Calle Arenal.

We admired the neo- classical buildings
lining the busy thoroughfare along the way.

 When we arrived at the Fuente de Cibeles,


…we ttook photos of the beautiful neo- classical buildings
 surround the area,   like the Post Office Building,

…and the Sepblac or the Federal Office Building
which at that time was undergoing renovation.

Right ahead was the Metropolis Building, or Edificio Metrópolis  
 at the bifurcating corner of the Calle de Alcalá and Gran Vía,   a beautiful
 French, Beaux-Arts building, designed by Jules and Raymond Février .

From the Metropolitan building we turned
left and took the Calle de Alcala route-

…back to Puerta del Sol which as that time was 
crowded, as there was an on going rock concert,


We walked our way back to Calle Arenal,

...had a very late lunch which also served
as our early dinner at La Cueva restaurant,

…where we feasted on awesome Spanish dishes.

She shopped for souvenirs from the
numerous shops lining the Calle Arenal,

...before heading back to our
hotel at the Petit Palace Opera.

Day 3

On our third day in Madrid, we decided to do less
walking as what we had done for past two days.


We woke up very late had a leisurely
breakfast  at the hotel’s breakfast buffet,

…and headed to Marin, a home improvement store
at the Calle Arenal few steps away from the hotel.

We were decorating my son’s bedroom
who is in transition of being a teenager,

…where we spotted an antique chest

....and a rustic wrought iron chandelier.

We also found a dainty tabletop utility chest 
for my daughter’s bedroom, we bought them,
 had them packed for home delivery.

We hailed a taxi,  and requested the driver -


…to take us to Avenida las Islas de Filipinas,


where the Jose Rizal Monument is located.

The monument which appears to be an exact
replica of the one in Rizal Park in Manila,

We fins it amusing that Spain honored Jose Rizal,
our national hero with a monument,  their number
one enemy when they colonized the Philippines-

…and whom they put to death firing squad
in December 30, 1896, in the Luneta, where
the original Rizal monument now stands.

We lingered for a while at the park to relax,


....and took a taxi back to Calle Arenal.

We were fortunate to have stayed at the Petit Palace Opera
at the Calle Arenal as just few steps away from the hotel
is the Iglesia de San Ginés and the Pasadizo de San Ginés,

…that leads to the Spain’s most famous chocolate
 shop, the iconic Chocolateria de San Ginez.

It was already past noon but we were still full from and
late breakfast, what  had served as a brunch for my family,

…so it’s a perfect time for light snacks

We enjoyed the Spanish style thick, dark
and very strong steaming chococolate

… the deep fried light, crispy churros,
freshly cooked, ready for dunking.

We did some more souvenir shopping,


…at the numerous souvenir shops-



…in Calle Arenal until early in the evening,  


…and dined at Café & Te.

It was an awesome coffee shop that satisfied 
my son’s craving for a giant choco- chip cookie,

…and surprisingly served some of the best
paella, pizza and pasta dishes in the city.

After dinner we shopped for
food in a convenience store

…that we would be taking for a family
picnic in Buen Retiro Park the next day. 

It would have been perfect as it was our last day in
Madrid, and we had the whole day to relax in the
park as our flight would still be late in the afternoon,

…but when we returned to the hotel, we learned
that there would be a whole day transport strike
that would begin at 6 AM and end at 6 PM.

We didn’t see this coming. Guests who had flights to catch 
were advised to leave before 6 AM to avoid any delays.
There would no Buen Retiro Park visit for us anymore and
 we lost the chance of exploring this main tourist attraction.

There was nothing we can do but comply.
We returned to our room to pack up for
our early morning trip to the airport.

Day 4

We checked put of the hotel at 4:30 AM and took a taxi
to Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport at 5 AM.
Our flight is still at 5:10 PM, but there was nothing we can do
and we braced ourselves for more than 12 hour airport layover.

After checking in our luggage, we spotted  Urban Grill,
the only restaurant that was open at that time and we were
happy as we found a place where we could eat breakfast.

We feasted on croissants, sugar raised donuts and coffee,

…and later watched to sunrise on the airport tarmac.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport is the main airport 
serving Madrid in Spain. and considered the largest airport 
in Europe by physical size, and Spain’s  busiest airport.

We passed time exploring the airport,

…and returned to Urban Grill at noontime,

….where we had a sumptuous lunch
of their delicious grilled specialties.

Urban Grill's  comfortable sofa seats, served as a solace,  
and as a luxurious lounge, for impoverished  tourists like us 
that could not afford a first class or  business class tickets.

We stayed in Urban Grill until late in 
the afternoon, and had a light snacks.

Being trapped in for more than 12 hours 
Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport.

...was a result of an unexpected transport strike and we have 
wasted a precious day, which we would have spent relaxing 
in Buen Retiro Park, than just doing nothing in an airport.

We finally boarded on our flight back home,

…and our long three countries, four cities
spring European family vacation concluded
on a  long airport layover in Madrid, Spain.

Read the links below for related posts

Caceres to Madrid 
Scenic Train Ride to the Spanish Capital City
Magnificent Madrid Series 1 

La Pausa 
Madrid’s Welcome Feast 
Magnificent Madrid Series 2 

Petit Palace Opera 
Homey Hotel at the Heart of Madrid
Magnificent Madrid Series 3 

Calle Arenal 
Madrid’s Vibrant Street Mall
Magnificent Madrid Series 4

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