In case you missed the previously published post on our vacation in Costa Brava, chronologically we went there for five nights prior to returning to Barcelona for one night in order the catch a train to Madrid. Now we pick up where we left off after Costa Brava...
We left Barcelona on 25 September taking a 3-hour high speed train to Madrid. At times, we cruised along at 180 mph! The countryside, climbing from the coast to inland Madrid (2,188 ft.), was dry and rugged but still farmlands of olives and grapes scattered the arid land. In Madrid, we walked from the train station to our next Airbnb cozy attic home that included two terraces. At five flights (100 stairs) and no elevator, fortunately we only needed to heft our bags up once during our 8 night stay. While the views of the many roof tops from our terraces were not exactly scenic, they were a reminder of what it’s like living in a city of over 3 million people (similar to Los Angeles, California). The temperature on our visit was in the 80s so the terraces were nice to enjoy coffee in the morning, and to spend time after the heat of the day to enjoy our meals. We were located just off the Puerta del Sol, a major public square in the heart of the city. The pedestrian lane below our apartment was filled with restaurants. We could smell what was cooking, hear accordion music drift up, and conversations yakety-yacking into the next morning greeting the early morning risers as they began their day.
Plaza de Toros
Seeing an iconic event such as bullfighting is something to experience when in Spain. We’ve seen bullfights in movies, but to understand how they work and what to expect we read the details on Wikipedia prior to the event. From a cultural standpoint it was fascinating, we’re glad we experienced it, but we don’t need to see one again. Here they kill the bulls so it is a bloody spectacle. Seeing how the matadors finesse the bulls was amazing. But we really felt bad for the bulls as we could see that many struggled and fought what was at times a painful death. It was interesting to see the power position of the matadors as they put themselves in danger. And we did see a couple get caught up by the bull and horns, but nothing seriously hurt other than the matador’s pride. We were there during the final bullfights of the season, so I’m glad we could catch it during this visit in Spain, as we were too late last year when we visited Barcelona and Málaga. Bullfighting events go from city to city around Spain (from March or April to October) like the rodeo circuits do back home in the US. And yes, we heard plenty of Olé! It’s like saying bravo!
Museo Nacional Del Prado
We spent one afternoon in the Prado soaking up all of the art history we could. The Prado is considered to have one of the finest collections of European art from the 12th century to early 20th, and single best collection of Spanish art. We enjoyed the afternoon and finished it off with a stroll back to our neighborhood bar hoping and tapas eating along the way.
Parque del Buen Retiro
The central park of Madrid is a massive 350 acres located a few blocks from the Prado and an oasis to everyone living in central Madrid.
We walked the city and explored the historic core, ate great food, and soaked up the ambiance of Madrid. While this city was exhausting for me as it seemed there were very few moments of peace and quiet, D loved the energy.
We rented a car as we left Madrid on 3 October and drove west for 2.5 hours. We arrived in Salamanca, Spain (elevation 2,631 ft.) and stayed 2 nights in a hotel located on the edge of the historic core. Salamanca is a college town where the university is one of the few in Europe which began in the 1200s! The historic core is pedestrianized so it made for nice walking around the many streets and side alleyways. These streets snake around the city creating fantastic views of the curly-cued cathedral, and somehow blend a hip-college scene shopping environment with the historic ambiance. There was a most delightful Art Nouveau, Art Déco Museum we spent a few hours in during an extremely warm day. From massive stained glass windows, to various objects d'art, I found myself smiling the entire time we were there, but unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos. We are usually seeing the main sites in a city, so it was refreshing to take some time to see something a little different from the normal museum or cathedral. It was also delightfully quiet in Salamanca compared to noisy Madrid. This is a town worth making a point to see and stay for a while, and we look forward to returning.
Thanks for joining our journey.