Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Madrid Day 1

On Friday the 2nd of March, Nate and I flew to Madrid, Spain. We had to be out of the door by 3:15 AM to catch our bus to the airport. Nate did an all nighter but I managed to get a couple of hours in before the fun weekend. We weren't originally planning to do a trip to Madrid but we got an amazing deal on a Travelodge hotel for 10 Euros a night! We knew that we couldn't pass that up! I mean that is pretty much free. :) The hotel wasn't anything special, but it was clean, and safe, which is what is most important. It also had a bidet in the bathroom which is very popular to have in Europe. Funny how it didn't have a fridge, bar of soap, or comforter....
but it has a bidet! :)
(A bidet is something that you squat over to clean your butt and genital areas....look it up on Wikipedia, thats what I had to do after wondering if it was an odd shaped urinal or something :) )
After landing, getting our bus tickets, figuring out where we were going, riding the metro, buying a SIM card for the IPhone so we could have GPS, trying to communicate with people who know very little English and us not knowing any Spanish besides gracias, hola, and quesadilla, going back again to the store because our phone didn't work.......We finally started exploring the city a little.
Our first stop was the Royal Palace. It is similar to Buckingham Palace in London from the outside but the insides were very different. There is a gorgeous cathedral that sits right next to the palace that we took a tour through. It had an amazing view of the city and also of the palace.

The view was amazing! Friday was the worst weather out of the four days that we were there but it still wasn't anything to complain about. However, the sky was a little grey as you can see in the pics. But Sat, Sun and Mon were absolutely gorgeous!

The inside of the Cathedral.
After walking around a bit, we went to a food market called San Miguel Market. They had the coolest foods there and it was our first introduction to tapas. We got 2 different kinds of mozzarella tapas and split them. The one on the right is prosciutto ham, basil, and mozzarella, and the one on the left is a whipped mozzarella with pesto sauce and fresh tomatos. I ate so much mozzarella this weekend and it was so fresh and good!
I was in charge of the itinerary for this trip and had everything planned out. I even had looked up some of the best restaurants in Madrid that had the highest reviews and wrote down the nearest metro stops to them along with their addresses. The problem was that everything was always full! Completely booked for the whole night! So after trying restaurant after restaurant on my list, we finally would just give up and pick one that we saw randomly. Because of this, I don't think we had the best food, but it was pretty dang good still. Some interesting things too....
Our first restaurant experience was pretty funny to me. We walk in and absolutely no one speaks English. We sit down and the menu is in Spanish. We are trying to figure out what things could be. Good thing I know that pollo means chicken, so I could be safe with that. :) And having the Iphone was so helpful too because we had the google translator. We would type in different foods into the translator app and then realize what the food was. The menus were interesting though because they wouldn't tell you exactly what you were getting or what it comes with but it would just say, "grilled chicken," or "asparagus." The rest of it was a surprise. After sitting there for a while, we looked on another table and realized they had English menus! It was different though because the waiter wouldn't come over to us to get our order unless we called him over, except for drinks. I guess most people were there just to get drinks, not food. Also, they only always gave me bottled water, not tap water. And the Cokes that Nate would order were tiny! They wouldn't even fill up the glass when he poured it in with the ice! Little doll sized ones. We ended up ordering (pictured above) two open faced sandwiches that they call tostas, one chicken and mozz, and one ham and tomato, as well as a lamb screwier.

My favorite part of the day was the Flamenco show at Las Tablas. We had the best time and we had front row seats at the very front table. Your ticket comes with a free drink and I got this yummy peach juice. The show was amazing and so Spanish. They had guitarists and singers playing and singing the Spanish music while the dancers would dance. The dancing was incredible. Their facial expressions and sharp movements were so fun to watch! Spanish dancing is so different than anything that I have ever seen and we really enjoyed it. They would also do lots of clapping during the songs with such great rhythms. Such a great way to soak in the Spanish culture for an evening!

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