MONDAY (21/02/11) - We leave Barcelona at 1045am on Monday and arrive in Madrid around 3pm. The trek to the hostel was fairly easy, and the guy at the front desk was quite friendly. When we walk up the flight of stairs, spot our door with a sigh of relief (we're carrying backpacks that weigh... well, more than a normal backpack weighs) but WAIT. Is that... no... can't be... YES! IT IS! Freddie Mercury adorns the door to our room. Amazing. Clearly we'll enjoy our small amount of time here.
After getting settled we venture out for dinner and find YerbaBuena (which has one of the best restaurant logos I've ever seen) - it is a vegetarian/vegan paradise with plenty of options and no need to worry about getting meat in anything we order. When our plates arrive we see that they are decorated in amazing fashion. The chef there really cares about presentation - which makes me appreciate the place even more. We would return there for lunch AND dinner the next day.
After dinner we wander and get a feel for our neighborhood. Quite a mellow and relaxing evening.
TUESDAY (22/02/11) - Our one full day in Madrid. Time to see everything we possibly can. After two attempts to find breakfast that went horribly wrong (they don't believe in breakfast in Spain) we set off with belgian waffle and granola in our bellies. We wander through all of the tourist spots - Royal Palace, this square and that monument, etc. There are so many wonders across the Atlantic where time has been time for so much longer than it has been anything in the West. Madrid is a stunning city. One can walk for hours and their eyes would never go wanting.
The windows are video screens. So wild!
After sightseeing we wander back to YerbaBuena for lunch and get the best vegan nachos I've ever had (my favorite dish at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in the Bay Area). With our bellies full and smiles on our faces we head to El Museo Prado, one of the best museums in the world. It's a breathtaking sight... like an ancient courthouse combined with a palace.
Who you gonna call?!
We spent a few hours wandering through the rooms of religious, renaissance, and 18th-19th century paintings and sculptures. With plenty to look at and plenty of walking to do we had a fantastic time perusing. So many amazing pieces. Notably "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Bosch, who I had never heard of. Love the Dali-esque style.
After the museum we went back to the room for a short nap. I bought a fantastic Ben Sherman carry-on bag (so much less harmful to my hands than the canvas bag I'd been carrying around). Thennn YerbaBuena again for dinner. That's right, three times in two days. It was definitely that good.
We turned in early due to an 8am train ride from Madrid to San Sebastian, which meant we had to get up at 6am.
That's about it for Madrid. Definitely an amazing city to see if you ever find yourself in Spain. We would have loved to see more of it. C'est la vie!
Love and miss you all! We'll write from San Sebastian. Tomorrow is exploration day. So excited!