europe madrid

MAD about Madrid: Part One

Sunday, October 14, 2012tee

i finally found some time to start where I left off on my travel backlogs. i've been procrastinating for as long as i could and i know i promised myself to finish all of these before i step into another country. quite a challenge actually, as we already have a few trips planned next year. *crossing fingers* in order to catch up, i had to force myself to get on with it already! haha! it's been almost a year since the trip anyway. but then after coming back from the trip i have been so overwhelmed by the proposal and the wedding planning so i never had the time to sort this all out. excuses, excuses. :D

Anyway, here's the continuation of my Euro-trip last year. This post's all about the wonderful city of Madrid, Espanya! so... OLA ESPANYA! :D

We arrived at Madrid in the afternoon, on the eve of Halloween. And while I first thought  Europeans are not that keen in celebrating Halloween than Americans do, boy was I in for a surprise! First stop - Plaza Mayor. The town square was filled with a fair of sorts - all pertaining to halloween! It didn't quite look as the town square that I had expected or saw photos of. But no biggie. At least I can say I went to Madrid in the time when the town square had the "halloween feel", that's not something every visitor of Madrid sees! Though,to be honest, a part of me is wondering what the normal sans halloween town square looks like in person.
The Plaza Mayor is where fiestas, festivals, marketplace, bullfights, carnivals, football matches and even executions (not in this era, i hope) take place.

As the Plaza Mayor is just within the Puerta del Sol and Gran Via area, we took some shots as we walked around too. Puerta del Sol is as central as you can get in Madrid. This is the center of all Spain, and all road distances are measured from here. Gran Via, on the other hand, is the commercial district of Madrid which spans commercial buildings and shops and stores.

Next stop, the Royal Palace (Palacio Royal de Madrid), the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. We viewed the palace from outside the gates as it was already closed when we arrived there. 

A stone's throw away from the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral. A bit of trivia on the Almudena Cathedral - Madrid's Cathedral, Cathedral de la Almudena, took more than a hundred years to complete. Wow, that's more than a lifetime!

Spain is known for a lot of things, and being a Spanish colony for so long, we had been influenced so much by their culture and practices. So it came a surprise to me when someone mentioned "flamenco" should not be missed. Say what? Apparently, it was flamenco dancing in Spain that I shouldn't dare miss. Let me just say that it was a rather unique experience. An hour's worth of Spanish music, songs, and a whole lot of clapping and footwork - loud, loud tapping and thumping against the wooden floor. Most restaurants in Spain have flamenco shows, and the one we watched was in Villa Rosa as it was recommended by J's sister. The restaurant was packed minutes before the first show. Luckily, we were able to snag a table near the stage due to a last minute cancellation.

Flamenco (Spanish pronunciation: [flaˈmeŋko]) is a genre of Spanish music, song, and dance from Andalusia, in southern Spain, that includes cante (singing), toque(guitar playing), baile (dance) and palmas (handclaps). First mentioned in literature in 1774, the genre grew out of Andalusian and Romani music and dance styles. - Wikipedia definition

The next day in Madrid began with a quick round at El Rastro. El Rastro is a huge flea market that spans a couple or so streets, in the neighborhood of La Latina. It opens only on Sunday mornings and is a popular place where people go to for leisurely strolls on Sunday mornings.  For us, it was a slow relaxing morning, experiencing Madrid's own version of a flea market. You can find a variety of items sold here - a colorful array and display of products - souvenirs, fans, hats, clothes, knick-knacks, accessories and a whole lot more. Definitely something the shopaholic and tourist should not miss. ;)

My post ends here but wait - The MAD for Madrid Diaries is not yet over.. watch out for Part Two. :)

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