Spain 2012-1 Madrid

Plaza Puerto del Sol

Cheers broke out on the flight to Madrid and we learnt the news that Spain won the European Soccer Championship. When we arrive at Madrid the next morning, we spotted a few people wrapped in flags of the winning team at the airport and on the streets.  Later in the day when we were at Plaza Cibeles, a large square couple of blocks away from our hotel, we noticed a large stage was set up there. What was this stage set up right in front of Palace Communication that spoiled the view of plaza? We found the answer later. In the evening, crowds of people, many wrapped in the same flags, filed towards Plaza Cibeles for the celebration of the win. We did not attend and went to dinner instead. Almost all TV channels carried the celebration live and we could see the large crowds filling the square and surrounding the stage where the entire soccer team was placed. Being in a room right by the street, we heard all the commotion. The din from people passing by and indistinct singing and shouting from loud speakers from the plaza lasted into late night and more clamor continued after the celebration ended and into the wee hours.

We were in Madrid for three days and nights, which was arranged as first two days time sightseeing in Madrid and the third day as a day trip to Toledo. As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a sprawling city with palatial buildings, large squares and wide boulevards, handsome and pleasant parks and museums, all located in its city center.

While Plaza Oriente  and Plaza Cibeles are the most beautiful, Plaza Puerto del Sol, dubbed “Time Square of Madrid”, seems to be the heart of Madrid and a place for all people to gather and you can find many restaurants and shops around it. My son paid a visit to H&M on one of the side streets. It is also steps away to Plaza Mayor where more eating choices are available. Right opposite of one of the Metro stops located at the Puerto del Sol is a delightful pastry and coffee shop, the famous “La Mallourquina Pasteleria”, where at its standing counters, we had our first taste of Spain’s pastries and coffee.

Paseo del Prado is a delightful, spacious boulevard connecting many attractions, where Plaza Cibels sits on its north end, Plaza de Neptuno in the center, Renfe station Puerta De Atocha and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía on it south end and the famous Museum Prado, Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, Botanical Garden right off the boulevard. Retiro Park is just a block away.

Of the two museums we visited, Museum Prado and Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, we enjoyed Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza better, where a wider variety of paintings that span into the modern time are on display, including a special collection by American painter Edward Hopper.

Royal Palace is the highlight of it all and well worth a visit. Atop a hill overseeing a large expanse of the city, it has an advantageous view. The building is grand and handsome, its interior opulent and sumptuous. Beautiful Almudena cathedral right next door to its south enhances the view.

On way to Plaza Mayor from Royal Palace, we by chance ran into Mercado de San Micuel, a delightful market with shops offering all sorts of Tapas items ranging from seafood to variety of croquette (frying foods) to fruits to meats to candies to pastries, wine and beer. The building itself is quite interesting and there we had our first taste of Tapas, a variety of items accompanied by wine and beer and Cock Cola. The meat store there offers some very good Salame and Chorizo among a large variety of meat; you can pick some up in small quantity to try. They ship to US.

Coke Cola is obviously popular in Spain and you can find it available almost at every corner. Same goes for McDonald.

Palace Communication at Plaza Cibeles

Plaza Oriente

Royal Palace

Almudena cathedral

Ceiling above landing at entrance of Royal Palace

A building on route to Plaza Mayor from Royal Palace

Mercado de San Micuel

Window of a souvenir shop at Plaza de Neptuno

Colonnade, statue and Lakeat Retiro Park


One of many leaning trees at Retiro Park











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