The Great Spain Rundown

I have to say that I am not going to jump up and down of excitement telling you about Madrid, it was a great city, as well as the other parts of Spain that we went to. I really find it wonderful how countries like Spain are able to maintain a lot of their historical architectures and artifacts, mainly one of the reasons why people flock to see them. And that is basically what JG and I did, just passed by to admire the history that the Spaniards have to show for, as well as of course like all tourists experience as much as much Spanish culture as we can.

Unlike Paris or Rome, I really did not have much a goal going there, just again to see the sights, we did a tour of the city that included, seeing the oldest restaurant in the world,

Restaurant Sobrino de Botin the oldest place to eat in, as per approved by the Guinness World Record itself.

The palace of course,

And the home of Miguel Cervantes where he wrote the infamous Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Aside from eating Paella, we also came across what they say is one of the many must eats there, which are called Churos, which is basically Spain’s version of a donut, because it is basically made from the same ingredients only it is not shaped into a holed bread, but often as a long stick, edged like a star. Sometimes it’s knotted, sometimes not. Anyway, you enjoy it by dipping it in a thick hot cup of chocolate, you can get it everywhere there, but as our guide pointed out you absolutely have to try the ones from SanGines Chocolateria which is best one there because it is, if I heard right, is the oldest running one.

The best Chocolate and Churros of San Gines. I tried another restaurant that served the same thing, but it wasn't quite the same as this one. Also in SanGines they have a better working system of service compared to the others with their disdainfully snobbish attendants, slow output, and very small batch of churros.

I find this fascinating, because it meant I got to eat a treat that some living in 1894 would’ve enjoyed it; the same kind of recipe, in the same kind of place, because it looked as if nothing much was changed in the restaurant.

We also went to Toledo, where a UNESCO heritage site of an old city stands on top of a hill. It was like walking into a medieval town, complete with walls and towers, entrances with stone-edged emblems, churches and castles. If you are ever there, and you are not the most athletically built, I suggest you do what JG and I did. From the train or bus station, walk a few yards at the bottom of the hill and take the bus up the hill. We went down at the main square but I think the bus can go higher up, when you get there just walk your way down. This way you can experience the city without exhausting yourself. It might take a while for the bus to arrive, you might wait longer than the actual ride into the old city but it’s definitely one way of approaching it without breaking stressing yourself.

Here are some of the view from up the old city on the hill.

Back in Madrid we also stopped by Mercado de San Miguel, a market place which what looked to me a very oriental roofing design and is enclosed in glass. I had thought that would be the best place for me to get souvenirs but as it turns out, inside were mainly shops that sell gourmet meat, cheese, and tapas which you can enjoy with a good glass of wine. It was to me more like the upside version of a hawkers area where foodies enjoy the finer kinds of food street style.

Outside Mercado de San Miguel.

Our last main stop was to El Escorial, a 30 minute bus ride away from Madrid where one can find the San Lorenzo Monastery. Although it is called a monastery, it’s a royal site that is a museum, royal palace, and school all rolled into one. JG and I made a mistake of going through the exit via the church going the opposite direction of everybody else. We did not want to stay long since we basically got in without paying, so we ended up just peeking in and leaving right away. But I did get to see one of the highlights of the trip for me was the basement where you find these tombs where some of the royalties from way back were buried. I did not think these were the kings of the most important figures but mostly their aunts and cousins, you know the ones who were blue blood but not heir to the throne, but still it was really very fascinating and eerie at the same time. Etched with their names are their very own emblems.

The Basilica inside the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial.

So that was it, the trip to Spain. I still have one last thing to share about Madrid which I will post soon.

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