It’s our first full day in Madrid. We visited the oldest continually operated restaurant in the world, wandered the halls of the Royal Palace, drank (sort of ate) the most delicious hot chocolate ever made and much more.
We woke up after a 12 hour slumber feeling refreshed and ready to hit the streets.
Our first stop is Plaza Mayor, a big and beautiful square in the middle of the city. The open space is surrounded by shops and restaurants on the bottom outer perimeter and residential homes above. There are 237 balconies facing the plaza. Even though there were many tourists, it appeared to be a spot for locals as well.
Down the street from the plaza is Restaurante Botin, deemed the oldest restaurant in the world by Guinness Book of World Records. It has been operating since 1725. We took a look inside but didn’t eat there since we just had our coffee and croissant.
Next we walked through Mercado de San Miguel (the Market of San Miguel). It is a full-blown tourist area, but still worth a stop. The vendors offer your pick of meat, cheese, olives, baked goods, beer, wine or champagne. Since it’s a tourist gathering place the atmosphere is fun and festive.
Then we stopped at Almudena Cathedral. The first thing we noticed was the unconventional paintings, glass, and sculptures within the cathedral. The exterior has Baroque characteristics but the interior is dotted with contemporary art. The stained glass resembles that of cubism abstract art and we were surprised to see paintings of nuns and priests adorn the walls.
The Royal Palace let us have a glimpse into the lives and history of the Spanish monarchy. We were not allowed to take pictures inside most of the palace, but imagine glamorous chandeliers, lavish silk, the finest marble and premier royal decadence.
“It comprises over 3000 rooms, including: the Main Staircase, designed by Sabatini with over 70 steps; the Throne Hall featuring a ceiling painted by Tiepolo; the Hall of Halberdiers, which Charles III turned into the Guards Room; the Gasparini Room, with its grand 18 century decoration on a floral theme; the Royal Chemist’s with natural medicine cabinets, ceramic pots made by the La Granja factory, and even prescriptions given to members of the royal family; and the Royal Chapel, which is home to a collection of string instruments made by the legendary Antonio Stradivari.”
We ended the day with a stop at Chocolateria San Gines for churros and hot chocolate. I will never drink Swiss Miss hot chocolate ever again! The hot chocolate here is uh mazing. It’s rich, thick and creamy. It’s so thick, it makes a perfect dipping sauce for the churros. I see MANY more of these in our future!
Hasta Luego! (See you later)
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