20.05.2014 - 20.05.2014
We decided to head to Madrid on the train. If you book early enough on the Renfe sight, you can save a significant amount of money. However, the website doesn't work well for payment if your not using an European card. I tried several times in the U.S. without any success. Once we got to the terminal, we were unsure of where to go. There were a lot of counters and so we decided to ask at information which took half an hour. We were then told to take a number, about 50 people were ahead of us, and wait til called. Tiring of this rather quickly, I wandered around til I found some British people who told me to just use one of the kiosks in front of the information desk. 5 minutes later we had our tickets and were ready to head off. The scenery was breathtaking, between every hill was the potential for an old village, church or castle. I tries to stay awake but for those that know me, I can't seem to on a moving vehicle.
Once we arrived, we had to walk to the other side of the city to reach our hostel. This allows us a chance to see the sights and get a feeling for the city. One issue is that the Spanish tend to give multiple names for one street, changing it every few kilometres. This can make it rather difficult to find the correct route. A friendly British girl did give us directions when we were looking at a bus map which helped.
The first site we went to was the Egyptian temple that was gifted to the Spanish government. This was in appreciation for helping excavate the area which would be covered by the daming of the Nile River. Since it would have been submerged anyways, it was taken apart rock by rock and reassembled here.
After this was the Spanish royal palace. Each room was opulant, almost garish by todays standards. It is also quite hot inside although the Royal Armoury was quite a bit cooler. Unfortunately there were guards in every room to prevent you from taking photographs.
We also went to the Naval Museum which is on military property and requires a photo ID to enter. This museum shows the evolution of the Spanish navy, the geographical extent of Spanish explorations, the first known map of America and an armoury showing the weapons of the natives encountered by the Spanish. Unfortunately, the signs were not translated into English.
Looking for something quick we ducked into Museo De Jamon. This place offered excellent bocadillos (baguette with meat and/or cheese) for rather cheap.
Madrid was rather hard to find Spanish food in other than sandwiches. We found more western fast food outlets here than in Barcelona. However, they did change some aspects to appeal to Spanish tastes. Most McDonalds were McCafe and Dunkin Doughnuts became Dunkin Coffee. We did find another market that was fantastic as they sold items tapas style so were able to eat a wide range of food. We had sangria, salted cod, another sandwich, olive skewers and more.
This stood out as quite exotic. It is surumi, a fish paste, that is then sent through a meat grinder and served on toasted bread.
And finaly, the obligatory cat photo. Once again there were dogs (none nuetured) everywhere but not a single cat.