Our first morning in Madrid was also the start of our fist full day in Madrid. We knew we wanted to hit the highlights of the city, and our hotel was in between both the Palacio Real and the Prado Museum. Thankfully the Palacio Real did not open until 10 am, so we could comfortably sleep in since we knew we weren't able to get in until after then anyway. The Prado allowed for reserving tickets in advance, so we booked that for the afternoon.
Here is what the hotel had to offer for breakfast...courtesy of my NEW camera!
I saw this sign while walking down the street and got excited because this is a Japanese word. So I took a picture, and then only after that did I realize it was a Japanese restaurant...go figure!
Here are some of the pictures I took as we walked from our hotel to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).
This is the Palace from the side. This place is massive. I am almost certain that I read somewhere it is the third largest (or most impressive) of all the palaces in Europe, coming after Versailles (which I visited with Ryan, see HERE) and the Palace in Vienna.
These are the gardens of the Palace.
Here I am with my sister.
Here is my mom and Joe.
This is the back of the statue in the square across from the palace.
This is the cathedral next to the Palace. Very grand, just like the palace itself.
Now back to the palace. You can't take pictures inside, so below are my pictures from outside and around the museum.
Obviously there are gorgeous views of Madrid from here.
Now, at this point my mom offered me a Swiss chocolate from the airline (they gave us extras!), and since I had my new camera and knew my old one was found, I decided to take a picture of the chocolate since this is what I was going to take a picture of on the plane when I discovered that my camera was missing. I felt a lot better taking the picture at this time than I did the day before!
Here are some more pictures that I took as we walked from the Palacio Real along Calle Mayor, towards Plaza Mayor, and then on to the Prado Museum.
I can never resist a good bakery!
Isn't this fan cute? My sister bought it! I love it!
Thankfully we stumbled upon the Mercado de San Miguel, which was one place on my list of things I wanted to see. This place is foodie heaven, but you don't have to take my word for it...just look at the pictures below.
Olives, and we ate a good deal of these
This was so neat. It is like a tuna fish sandwich where the pickle serves as the bread.
The mozzarella stand really caught my eye. I know, I know, I am in Spain and mozzarella is not exactly Spanish.
This looked so good that I had to try it. It was from the Mozzarella stand, run by a guy from Italy, who studied in Florida and now lives in Spain. This was so good! Its mozzarella and smoked salmon.
While I worked on this, my mom and sister kept looking around for things that caught their eye. In this market you just grab a space at the counter tops, buy what you want from what ever stands you want, and just eat it standing up (or with a chair if you get lucky). So I kept a space for us, and then when I wanted more, one of them stayed at the table.
My mom had one of these wrapped shrimp.
Here are some toasts that Joe picked out for Rachel.
How could I not resist taking a picture of this,
or this. This is a monkfish, in case you haven't seen one and are curious.
Then we grabbed a plate of olives. I loved the olives stuffed with mini-pickles.
We also got bread and cheese to munch on.
When we were stuffed, we moved on, with our next stop being Plaza Mayor.
This is a huge square with many cafes lining the perimeter and street performers on the inside.
The next area we passed was Puerta del Sol.
After that, we kept on heading towards the Prado museum. These pictures I took as we were walking.
We got to the Prado just in time for our scheduled visit. When you are short on time, I recommend, if the places offers of course, scheduling your visit time and buying tickets in advance. This eliminates long waits and means you have more time to see other things.
You can't take pictures in the Prado, but if you are curious to find out more about what they have inside, you can read more HERE. Their most famous painting is Velasquez's "Las Meninas". Another famous painter with many works here is Goya, and they have a statue of him out front.
Here is my family after we finished inside.
Next on the agenda was finding us some churros and hot chocolate. Although this is a breakfast food, my sister was hungry earlier on, so we didn't stop then, and instead thought this was a better time.
After a short rest, it was time to head out for dinner. We decided that the Mercado de San Miguel was so good that we wanted to go back. This time we made sure to take a look at the produce.
Then we all picked out items for dinner. Obviously we ordered olives again.
My sister picked out these great toasts.
Here you can see that we grabbed a table, which was perfect.
I had this cod fish toast.
I also did some cheese and bread.
My mom and Joe tried these.
Of course no meal of tapas is complete without sangria!
You would think that by this point we couldn't possibly have room for more, but I was eyeing this surimi salad on smoked salmon on bread all day, so I had to give it a try.
I guess I wasn't the only one eyeing something.
All of the food was delicious, but I had to give the frozen yogurt a try before we left the market. This is plain (tart) yogurt with fig sauce and peanut butter. Holy cow, this was amazing!
On the walk back to the room, I made a short stop in here because I bought cookies from this place in the Paris airport.
There is just something about Spain, and really Europe in general, that I don't feel too often in other places. I think it is the city layout (squares/plazas) and the use of lighting at night.
Last up, these are street performers that I was amazed by, so I stopped to give them some change, and of course I took a picture.
CRAZY! Very impressive. I have no idea how they do this.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to Madrid? Have you ever visited a palace (and if so, which ones)?