Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Madrid, Spain

The last weekend in February we decided to take a little trip. We haven't traveled in awhile since it's been cold and dreary. Now that the weather is a little nicer we decided it would be a great time to get away for a bit. So off to Spain it was!! I was really excited about this trip. I guess it was the excitement of the fact that I finally get to see some of the culture that I learned about in my high school Spanish classes. I took Spanish for 4 years. I was excited to show up David for once in my awesome Spanish speaking skills. He is the foreign language king. He can pick up another language so quickly and I get so jealous because it doesn't come to me as naturally. This time I thought I could teach him what I knew. Well, I couldn't lol...all those years of Spanish and when someone would started talking to me I would freeze and get tongue tied haha! Switching from country to country get's confusing. You get used to speaking French all the time so then Spanish seems odd. Half the time we don't know if we are speaking French, English, Italian, or Spanish. We kept saying merci when we were supposed to be saying gracias. Do we say adios or arrivederci? I mean kuddos to those who manage to fluently speak more than one definitely get's confusing.

We had three days in Spain and we loved it. We loved the food, we loved the beautiful sunny weather, we loved the people (they were so nice), and the culture!! We didn't have a ton on the agenda so it was busy but relaxing at the same time. We allowed a little time for some shopping to check out all of the fun traditional Spanish goods. Here are a couple of the highlights from our trip. If you want to see the all of the pictures you can scroll down to the bottom and view our Smilebox.

Puerta del Sol!

The street signs are Spanish tiles...I thought this was so pretty.

This was in Plaza Mayor. It's a big square that is a great place to do some shopping and eat some tapas!

We sat down for a quick snack of some tapas and when we got the bill it was 70 euros...most expensive snack ever.

Us in front of Palacio Real. I wish we would have been able to take pictures inside the palace. It really was exquisite.

Puerta de Alcala (the gateway to the city)!

Some friends of ours suggested we eat at Botin. Botin is apparently (says the Guinness World Records) the oldest restaurant in the world.

Ernest Hemingway was a big fan of Botin.

They opened their doors in 1725.

The dining rooms retain much of the original decor.

You can see the azulejo tiles behind David and

the oak beams above.

I was so upset with myself but they gave us a copy of the menu and now we can't find it. :(

They are known for their traditional Castilian flare and their most famous dish is roast suckling pig. David tried it and loved it (also favored by Ernest Hemingway). One of the other items on the menu was baby eel for 99 eruos. You could also order octopus in it's own ink. I had a steak and it was great!!

This was taken in the kitchen....poor pigs.

We took a little trip downstairs to see the other part of the restaurant. I had to duck going down the stairs. People must have been a lot shorter back then.

I loved these gardens.

The bear and tree are the symbol of Madrid.

One of the things everyone said you have to try when going to Madrid is the hot chocolate and churros. It has been around since 1894 and looks about the same as it did when it opened.

You don't actually drink the hot chocolate it is for dipping the churros into.

I enjoyed the cappucino!

That evening, David had made us reservations for dinner and a flamenco show. This is one form of dance I know nothing about. So we were both really excited to what it was like. Dinner was amazing and the flamenco show was great.

This was the stage.

(I posted some video of two of the dances on our Smilebox below if you would like to see more.)

They have several great parks in Madrid. We visited the Parque del Retiro and visited the famous monument to Alfonso XII. The park was once the setting of a palace and was actually the private playground of the royal family. Their were people putting on magic shows and puppet shows, concerts, and numerous venders selling stuff. We could have walked around here all day. In front of the monument is a boating lake. David surprised me and took me out for a ride.

On the last day in Madrid we decided to tour the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas (where the bullfighting takes place). We almost didn't even go because we didn't think the tour would be that exciting but we were so wrong and I am so glad we went. We are both animal lovers and I wasn't quite sure how fascinating we would find this, but it was so interesting!! I had no idea so much went into bullfighting. The arena is beautiful and is nicely decorated with beautiful Spanish tiles. We learned so much and would love to actually go back and see a fight although I'm not sure how we would feel about it on the day of.

The arena was much bigger than we thought it would be.

The box in the background is where the royal family sits.

The matadors can stand behind this thin wall when needing to regroup. You can see the marks on the wall from the bull trying to get to the matador.

I had to share a little bit about the hotel we stayed at. We always book our hotels on Priceline. We have yet to be disappointed. When David told me about this and showed me the website I wasn't sure what to expect. Hotel ratings in Europe do not mean what they mean in the states so you never know what you might be walking into. This was by far the neatest hotel we have ever stayed at. From what i understand they brought together 19 architecture firms from 13 different countries to create this hotel. Each floor is completely different. They had floors that were all red. Our floor was all white leather. They had floors that were completely black. We even took a tour so we could see all the floors. When we arrived, they hand you an ipad and let you pick out your room based on the pictures. I've posted a bunch more pictures on our smile box too.

This is the entryway into our room. The walls and even the doors are leather. The Hallway leading to the rooms and the outside of the doors was leather too!! It was crazy!!

These mirrors were so cool!! I wish I could have taken them home with me!! I like the way they leaned so that you didn't have to lean into it when putting makeup on etc..

This was the only thing we weren't so sure about. It was the shower. The shower was a waterfall shower which was nice but we like a little more privacy and a door that closes preferably haha!!

This was another floor. We got off the elevator and it looked like we had stepped into the future. The rooms are down the hallway in the back.

When you got off on this floor it looked like you were in a cave. Unfortunately we had a hard time getting a picture due to the reflection we were getting and how dark the hallway was. I think we had to duck to get back to the rooms but it was unlike anything we had seen before.

Hallway leading back to the rooms.

We did come back with some beautiful ceramic Spanish bowls (well actually one was from Morroco but beautiful all the same). David bought me a beautiful pair of handmade earrings. We of course got our magnets, mugs, and at the last minute even found our Christmas tree ornament. I almost got a flamenco fan but instead decided on a pair of clappers that I could have fun dancing around and driving David nuts with lol. I knew my sister who also loves to dance would love to see these. The last day we saw a TGI Fridays and ate lunch there. I'm sure your thinking it's odd that we ate at an American chain restaurant while in Spain. Well, we had tried all the traditional Spanish food and we never get American food over here so we were thrilled to have unlimited Cokes and great American food. We even found a Subway in the airport to eat for dinner.
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