A Bit About Madrid
Madrid is Spain’s central capital and a very large city (metropolitan area population is 6.5 million), but its historical core is very easy to get around and quite compact in terms of seeing the major sites, including the Royal Palace, Prado Art Gallery, Plaza Mayor, the Sofyia National Art Gallery and the Almudena Cathedral.
What I saw and did in Madrid.
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the royal family, but it is only used for state functions. It was originally built by Muhammad I between 1860 and 1880, but came under Castilian control in the 11th century when the moors were driven out.
While in Madrid, our group stayed at the Europa Hotel on Plaza Sol, and from that location, everything was within walking distance to the major sites mentioned above.
As well, near the hotel there were many lovely pedestrian walkways for shopping, for example, the well known brand Desigual, had a shop not far away. I love much of the clothing, particularly their jeans, which often have some bold design on them.
I joined the G Adventures tour group (a group of 14 travellers) in Barcelona on Sunday, March 19th. From Barcelona the group took the high-speed train to Madrid, which travelled at the speed of about 270 kilometres per hour a good part of the time. Once in Madrid, we got onto the Metro from the train station, and was pleasantly surprised when we emerged from the metro, the Hotel Europa was only steps away. A good thing, when you’ve spent a good part of the day travelling!
Our G Adventures guide, Viviana, gave us all maps for the local area, highlighting the major sites, and gave us a short orientation of Madrid and how to get around.
We started our adventure in Madrid by going to a local restaurant for a meal of “tapas.” How does one define tapas? They can be a variety of small plates consisting of a whole range of different items including vegetables, olives, meatballs, cheeses, fish or marinated items, and that’s just scratching the surface! The most fun is sharing tapas, commenting on the various taste sensations, enjoying a drink along with them whether it be wine, beer, vermouth, water, or a soft drink. And most important is enjoying the camaraderie of this lovely group of travellers who I will be travelling with for the next two weeks.
A not-to-be-missed treat in Spain is churros and a thick hot chocolate. The delicious chocolate is so thick you can dip the churros into it! The melding of flavours is delicious…