Wednesday, August 26, 2009

not your usual travel journal - PART 6

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

* * * *
June 2, 2009 "Madrid and Salamanca in Pictures"

A major financial hub of the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid is like New York - complete with the overpopulation (it's the third most populated in the EU), the restaurants that never close, the ethnic diversity, and the gentrification. Of all the first-world cities I have visited, I am most likely to survive here. The pace of this urban jungle is very me -- very fast and very impatient. Everything is within walking distance or just one Euro away (the metro is cheaper here than in Paris). The language is very similar to Filipino, and even if you didn't take Espanol 1 in the University of the Philippines seriously, you will still be able to get directions and order food....or at least yell, "Ayudame!!!"

While it is not as artsy-fartsy as Barcelona, Madrid enjoys close proximity to the Salamanca area, where you will find Avila and Segovia. Having studied in an exclusive all-girls high school whose patron saint hailed from Avila, the day trip was quite meaningful to me.

I'm too lazy to narrate everything that transpired in the week that we were there, so I'll just post photos and short captions.

This is the view from our room at night. We stayed in the mid-priced Hotel Regente, which is strategically located along the upscale Gran Via, giving us the best of high-and-low/luxurious-and-affordable experience. Right across is a ZARA store, which is apparently very cheap in Spain. I don't shop in Zara, which I consider to be a "middle" brand. I like things either very cheap or very expensive. Prada or Greenhills tiangge. You know what I mean.

The very next day we found ourselves in Salamanca, which is about an hour and half from Madrid. This is the Segovia Cathedral.

Another well-preserved chapel in Segovia.

The Segovia Aqueduct.

Within the walls. We had lunch with the Dutch lady on the right (in orange). She speaks very good English and is very well educated. She knows so much about the Philippines. She is also apparently very cultured. She says she owns a house in Malaga (Spain). EU citizens can buy property freely. We also had lunch with an Australian nurse, who said that this trip to Spain was her great escape. We later ran into her near a museum in Madrid. She was always a bit drunk and a lot of fun :)

This is a real castle. It served as an inspiration for many Disney recreations.

The walled city.

I couldn't take a lot of pictures inside St. Theresa's chapel, but I managed to sneak in a few.

I love these balconies. So simple and honest.

Quaint little souvenir shop in Avila.

* * * *

Back in Madrid, we did a lot of walking, eating, sitting around in parks, museum visits, and basically just soaking in the vibrant city rhythm.

This is the cafe where I started this journal. I sat here on our last full day in Madrid, while MSP roamed the streets figuring out how else we can maximize our stay. We later decided to try our luck in buying tickets to the bull fight.

We frequented TAPAS bars around the city. Beer + tapas = heaven. And it's a cheap way to eat, too.

The market is VERY CLEAN, like the rest of the city.

Locals love to eat outside.

More locals, just being themselves. Madrid is very unpretentious. It really IS clean. Even the non-touristy places are extremely well-kept.

In the afternoons, we stop for churros con chocolate - the REAL thing. Suddenly, Dome's churros taste... substandard.

We had to buy bull fight tickets semi-illegally :) We overpaid by 16 euros each, but got relatively good seats, considering how jampacked the stadium was. We were seated in the shaded side. No need for a hat.

The stadium from the back row. This was an hour before the bull fight. The place was just starting to fill up. By the time the show started, you could hardly move. People were sitting on my feet (for real).

A beautiful nightmare.



Blogger The Nomadic Pinoy said...

I'm so dying to go to Spain. They overstayed in the Philippines for at least 300 years at a time when there were no immigration control yet! I want to tell the first Spaniard I will meet in Madrid, he he he!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the segovia cathedral has an interesting architecture, unlike many churches i've seen.

and the bull fight experience? i'm green with envy.


6:37 PM  
Blogger ace said...

1. the segovia cathedral is something! cool church.

2. lol @ ST. THERESA'S chapel's name.

3. van gogh cafe!!!

4. wow, you went to a real, live bull fight! i loves.

1:58 AM  
Blogger mussolini said...

nomadic pinoy> hahaha you are absolutely right!

barry> yeah, quite stunning. the bull fight was upsetting at first (the sight of a bull's carcass being dragged/paraded around while locals cheered) but after 5 fights or so, i was cheering, too. infectious.

acey> the van gogh cafe was brimming with intellectual madrilenos talking about literature.we got most of our directions from there, as everyone who ate there seemed to speak very good english. the food was average, though. the churros places were better.

10:16 AM  

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