Saturday, 21 November 2015

Europe Travels: Madrid, Spain

19/6: Madrid, Spain


Manchester > Glasgow > Edinburgh > Scottish Highlands > Aberdeen > Lisbon > Porto > Madrid

This was the second night of consecutively staying at the airport in order to save some money on accommodation. Our flight was in the early hours of the morning so might as well! The shops at Porto airport was closed quite early so we stayed at Starbucks to pass time.

That day, I managed to weigh myself and surprisingly, I wasn't that shocked about my weight gain probably because of my conscious egg tart binges in Portugal. In the span of exactly a week since I started my travelling, I gained a total of 3-4kg. Thinking back, that was very horrifying. Luckily, I lost quite a lot of weight during my time in Sheffield if not I would probably return home overweight haha.

I got my last Portuguese egg tart at the airport before boarding my flight. Queue was insanely long because everyone wanted to get breakfast and this was one of the few cafes that were opened so early.

Just in time to admire the beautiful hues of the rising sun

When I reached Madrid's airport, I had to walk at least 30 minutes (also referred from the signs) from the arrival gate to the airport's exit which was madness?!


Hola Madrid!

First stop in Madrid after checking in.. llaollao.. because we missed it so much and how could we miss having this yogurt in its country of origin?

Yay!

The people-watching culture in Europe is huge. It is common to see cafes with chairs at the al fresco area arranged in an outward manner, facing the streets instead of surrounding the tables.

Modern vibes

The Royal Opera House

Got a caracola to curb my insatiable feel for pastries

Plaza Mayor
Such a neat square! We joined a walking tour here but gave up halfway to snooze because we were too tired from the sleepless nights.

Busker

Botin Restaurant
Founded in 1725, this restaurant has been certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest restaurant. We see restaurants struggling to survive for as short as a year, and yet this restaurant has been around for centuries. Impressive!

Basilica de San Miguel with a Spanish baroque architecture
The convex shape of this church is rare in Spain, and is the only one in Madrid!

The Houses of Malice are around this vicinity. This interesting name was derived when residents were asked to rent a level of their houses to visiting dignitaries. They resisted by building their houses a storey high only.

Glimpse of the old city walls (moorish ruins) and the cathedral behind

Almudena Cathedral

at the grounds of this gorgeous cathedral


So fascinated with all these architectures because they are so rare in Singapore.

Royal Palace

Spotted the Palace's guards and horses making their rounds on the road

Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Teleferico
Visitors can take a cable car ride here to see a panoramic view of Madrid.

Church of the Blessed Sacrament
Isn't its architecture so intriguing? I would have mistook it for an art gallery if not for the crosses.

Alcalá Gate
a neo-classical granite monument erected as an arch of triumph to celebrate King Charles III's arrival

For dinner, we went to Casa Labras for some tapas. When in Spain, tapas are a must. This little restaurant was so crowded but luckily, we managed to get a table. 


Fried cod fish and Croqueta de Bacalao
The fried cod fish was amazing. Think soft, tender, and succulent flesh coated with a thin layer of deep-fried batter. So affordable too. The cheese croquette with salt cod fillings, served piping hot, was 0.90€ only.

Spanish meat dumpling (Empanadilla de Carne) was delicious too. Minced meat was well marinated and covered with crisp and flaky dumpling skin. This is like the spanish version of our meat dumpling.

Skewer of marinated tuna

Chorizo Cular Bocadillos
The Chorizo Cular is a seasoned, smoked pork sausage. Bread was too hard for my liking, so was the cured ham :/ At least I got to try one of the famous Spanish sandwich.

After the *first* round of dinner, we explored the area and chanced upon a huge crowd where some filming was taking place. No idea what it was about but everyone seemed rather excited over it.

Puerta del Sol - hub of the city


2nd round of dinner at Rosi La Loca
This appetizer of deep-fried potato wedges served with amazing sauces (I forgot what) was one of the best I've had!

Seafood paella for only 25€ and it was the best paella I've had so far.

Look at those moist grains.. I love my carbs!


***

Day 2: 20/6



Up and ready to go!

We chanced upon this relatively popular coffeeshop and went to check it out. Look at all these assorted pastries!! Those croissants with fillings were going for 1.50€ only!! I already had a filling breakfast at the hostel so I did not get any.

Church of San Ginés de Arlés
The exterior is so asethetically pleasing!

Just nearby was Mercado De San Miguel. Meat galore right there, at prices catered for the tourists.

These fruits looked so fresh and vibrant.

Perfect-looking cherries at 9.90€/kg

These little treats were going for 1€ only! I tried this Icelandic smoked codfish liver which was so yummy! The crisp toasted bread base was such a great complement to the heavy-flavoured toppings.

Codfish Brandada with Lumpfish caviar which had a flavour similar to smoked salmon

Plaza de la Villa
one of the smaller squares in Madrid, less touristy, but charming as well

Templo de Debod - an ancient Egyptian temple
Admission is free (!!) so check it out if you can :)

One of the 3 stone pylon gateways leading to the temple


Museum Cerralbo
Admission is free after 2pm and I highly recommend a visit even if it is solely for aesthetic pleasures. Just look at how gorgeous the interior is! I'm in love.

This old mansion, which was an actual former home of some marquis, provides visitors with a glimpse into the residential space of how wealthy people from Madrid once lived.


Everything - from the antiques, pillars, ceilings, embellishments - exudes royal vibes.

After the museum visit, we were bound for more frozen yogurt to satisfy the endless cravings :P

some window shopping at Bershka
Prices are generally cheaper here.

Buen Retiro Park
One of the largest parks in Madrid

Retiro Pond
Isn't it cool to be able to utilize this large artificial lake, which at first sight may appear there to be just for aesthetic purposes? Also, this was such a random sight in the middle of the park.

Featuring a semicircular colonnade and a monument

Cybele Palace, the City Hall of Madrid, at the roundabout of Plaza de Ciebles

with my europe explorer :)

National Library of Spain
Look at that impressive exterior! I can't say the same for its oddly contrasting modern interior though.

Spotted in the library: Everything will be ok

On our way to dinner, we passed by this church which was situated in a rather random location along a shopping street. Can we all take a moment to admire the intricate details of its exterior? Such a stunner!

Dinner was at Calle Cava Baja. We had a hard time finding this tapas bar and surprisingly, the other bars were crowded but not this one. We went ahead to try it anyway. This was the mushroom bruschetta that we had. Creamy, velvety mushrooms served on a piece of crisp bread. 

Tortilla espanola - a typical Spanish dish of egg omelette with potatoes

and another one which was recommended by the lady

We were back at Puerta del Sol at night and there was an event happening and it was so crowded! Atmosphere was so lively and it felt like a mini concert was going on. Also, I took some videos and unintentionally captured a couple engaging in a passionate kiss hahaha..

For supper, I had Smooy's frozen yogurt, which appears to be a contender of llaollao. Winner: llaollao!

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