Puerta del Sol
This past weekend was Easter weekend. Easter has always been an important day for me, as a Christian, but I celebrated a little differently this year. Instead of Sunday morning service at Gold Creek (or watching online from a dorm room in Pullman) I visited Madrid. I will admit this is not the most conventional way to spend the holiday, and while I felt bad about missing church, I knew that I had to take advantage of the 3-day weekend that the French have for Easter weekend. After all, aside from praising the Lord, one must take advantage of the opportunities He has given us as well.
Well, this isn't a religious post, it is a travel post, so let's get into it. We flew in early Friday morning and found our way through the city's very clean metro to meet our friend at her hotel. We then found a hostel, checked in, and set out to explore the city. As it was my 21st birthday on Friday and my friend was starving, we stopped in a small restaurant where she got herself a late lunch and ordered a bottle of wine for the four of us to enjoy. It was a delicious Spanish merlot, and such a treat. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Puerta del Sol, a large square that marks the center of Madrid, as well as the center of Spain. On our way back to the hostel we caught a glimpse of the Easter parade, but the streets were very crowded and the parade was slow, so we kept walking
Saturday morning we got ourselves a large delicious breakfast of thick-cut toast, fried eggs, bacon (unfortunately European bacon is just sliced, fried ham, and I am still craving the American sort) and fries (the Europeans love their french fries!). After a hot cup of black tea I was ready to hit the city. Unfortunately it was chilly, so we tried to keep inside. We spent the early part of the afternoon at Museo Thyssen, in a temporary Chagall exhibit. As a fan of Chagall's very unique and colorful work, it was a treat to see such a large collection for just a few euros to escape from the rain. After, we spent time in souvenir shops, eating some Spanish pastries and shopping. Everything was much less expensive in Madrid, especially compared to Paris, making eating and shopping a much less stressful experience. That night we went to a popular tapas bar, El Tigre, for dinner. Tapas were originally a Madrid bartender invention to keep flies out of drinks, and developed into an essential part of the city's culture. At a tapas bar with any order of a drink, it comes with food, the tapas. Depending on where you go, this is anything from small finger sandwiches, to raciones, the full-meal sized portions. With our order we got a large plate of patatas bravas and two plates of a bruschetta-like dish of sliced bread with thick slices of ham and melted cheese over them. The potatoes were one of the most delicious things I've ever had!
Sunday we slept in, as we had a late night the day before. We checked out of our hostel at noon, and got a traditional Spanish lunch at a restaurant near the center of the city. The weather was incredible: bright sun, clear skies and warm temperatures. Because food was so cheap, we decided to treat ourselves a bit: a friend and I split a plate of paella (Spanish rice, usually with shrimp, but ours had clams, chicken and peas) and another plate of fried calamari. We strolled through the streets toward Puerta del Sol, grabbed ice cream cones and soaked up some sun by a fountain watching the street performers. The square was full of people dressed up in character costumes: Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, and at least 4 Mickey Mouses. There was also a man painted all in silver dressed as Jesus: cross, sheep, crown of thorns, the whole thing. After a few laughs a few of us bought postcards and took the metro to the beautiful Parque del Retiro, a large park with a pond, fountains, lots of trees and grass and a beautiful glass building called the Palacio de Cristal. We spent the rest of the evening resting up for a long night at the airport. Our flight was too early to take the metro to the airport so we hung out overnight, tired and delirious from being so tired. We finally made it back to Paris at noon on Monday.
I will be posting soon with a few more updates: some cool places in Paris & my spring break travel plans! Click here for a few photos from Madrid! Adios amigos :)