Europe 2013-Citizens of the Republic of Ushington visit England, France and Spain travel blog

Puerta del Sol-old Post Office


Hi Dad!

The clock of the 12 grapes

Carlos (Charles) III, in all his ugliness

Cholateria San Gines

I like pretty buildings



Opera House

Isabella II

Painted designs over windows (using a stencil)

View to the Royal Palace



Expensive housed near the palace

Details of this facade


Alfonso X

Looking into the main courtyard of the palace

Palace front

Almudena Cathedral-facing the palace

Door to the church

Pictures from inside the cathedral




Institute of Italian culture

Design details


Home of the Jewish community



Plaza Mayor




A novel way to use up old CDs


Degas-Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

La Violeta-candy shop

Pig on the hoof

Cod loins at Tres Encinas

Sole for Glen

Chocolate and churros-at Cholateria San Gines

Dip and eat-delicious

Note to self: go to the dining room early for breakfast if you have to catch an early train. Luckily, we didn’t today, so the lineup was not a hindrance.

Our guide, Pepa, met us at the hotel and took us on a walking tour of the old city of Madrid. She has a wonderful knowledge of the city and of Spanish and European history. This part of the city looks quite different from other European cities we have visited. Many of the buildings are built of brick, which was a cheap and plentiful resource. The ones that have stone are rough and not fancy.

Some of the sites we saw

1. Puerta del Sol-this is the centre of Spain (literally). It is where demonstrations and celebrations happen. The clock is featured on television all over Spain on New Year’s Eve. It is customary to eat a grape (the bigger the better) with every chime of the clock at midnight to ensure a good new year. And I am sure it must be named after Dad. There is a statue of Charles III, who insisted that the sculptor portrayed him exactly as he looked, without corrected features to make him more attractive. The “bad blood” contributed to an unattractive appearance and a weak mind.

2. Teatro Real-the Opera House. In front is a statue of Isabel II, who loved opera.

3. The Royal Palace-not lived in by the king, but used for special occasions. The statue of Alfonso X is interesting because the horse is balanced on only 2 legs. This was considered to be very difficult because of the weight of the statue. However, a trouble-maker named Galileo, said it was he did it. The castle has 2,800 rooms.

4. Almudena Cathedral. This faces the palace. It was begun in the late 1800s and finally finished in 1992

5. A building that used to belong to one of the Jewish families who was sent out of Spain. It has now been returned to the small (about 250 people) Jewish community of Madrid.

6. Plaza Mayor-home of bullfights, inquisitions and other such nice things

We had an early supper (about 9 PM-most Spaniards don’t eat until at least 10:30 at Tres Encinas, a restaurant suggested by one of the hotel staff. It was delicious. Dessert was at Cholateria San Gines for churros and chocolate. It is something everyone should try at least once. Imagine deep fried churros (salty, not sweet) dipped in thick melted chocolate. It is common to see people eating them for breakfast.

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