Travel To Madrid
My girlfriend and I were in Germany on work and since we had about a week off, we decided we would go to Madrid for a holiday. Madrid is the largest and the capital city of Spain. The city is located on the Manzanares River. Madrid is a city that is filled with plenty of things to do, that are fun and lively.
The first day in Madrid we decided to do the walking tour around Madrid of the Habsburgs or also called the Madrid of the Austrias, which include Plaza Mayor, Puerto del Sol and Plaza de la Villa. The itinerary began as such in Madrid’s most central point- Puerta del Sol. We could either take the bus or the metro and decided to take the bus as it was more picturesque. We found ourselves in the square, which is sort of semi circle. The famous Spaniards clock is located there, which is looked at by every Spaniard on New Year’s Eve. This clock is perched on a building called the Casa de Corres .The pavement outside is marked with a stone slab Kilometre Zero, as this is the place where the 6 national roads of Spain start. We walked back and entered the massive Plaza Mayor. The square is filled with many lovely restaurants and places to have good wine. From there we walked over to the Casa de la Panaderia, which was supposedly named after a bakery. The building has a very colorful façade. We then decided to see the Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid’s last remaining market. We then walked through a narrow alley way, where there is preserved excavation, dating back to Roman times called the Calle Almudena. The walking trip took us to the Madrid Royal Palace and the Cathedral Almudena.We decided we would keep the gardens of the palace for another day. Our walking trip ended in front of the Teatro Real Opera. The walk was not tiresome and we totally enjoyed a break sipping Sangria and munching on a tortilla!
The next day we decided to take a day trip out to visit a world heritage site declared by UNESCO called Aranjuez. The journey started off on the wonderful steam train called the Strawberry Train, which was built in 1928. The train featured in movies like Dr.Zhivago and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We got to taste the regions famous strawberries. We had a guided tour of the Royal Palace which is situated on the banks of the River Targus. It was a lovely day spent.
We were told that we should take a walk and see the Mediterranean forest which is just a few kilometers from Puerto del Sol. Inside Madrid, just 8 kilometers from Puerto del Sol is Monte del Pardo. Monte del Pardo is supposed to be one of the best preserved Mediterranean forests in Europe. Spread over 16000 hectares, this forest has 200 species of flora and 200 species of vertebrae. Rabbits, wild cats, deer’s, stags, red partridge live among gorgeous trees like ash trees, oaks, junipers and rockroses. This forest is spread from the Guadarrama mountain range out to the centre of Madrid. This reserve is strongly protected by rules and regulations. It’s truly amazing that a forest is right in the heart of the city.
Another fun outdoor trip that we wanted to do was the Medieval Train to Siguenza.The journey was a lot of fun as we constantly entertained on the train with music and theatres and by people dressed up as heroic knights, noble princesses and minstrels. The journey is about and an hour and half and through the song and dance we were told stories of the surrounding villages and cities. The next eight hours we spent wandering around and admiring the beauty of Siguenza. It was indeed a beautiful day.
We decided we needed to do something that was more sporting and decided to take a hike through the rough mountain chains of Sierra de Guadarrama. The mountains are wreathed in pine forests and were really beautiful. The hike started at the little town of Cercedilla. Our first stop was the visitors centre to pick up a map. The trail goes up to the side of the valley to the viewpoints surrounding the mountains. The sides of the view points are sheltered by pine forests and there were dirt roads that looped through the valley that gave way to the excellent view points. We also did the Los Miradores trail that definitely left us panting for breath, but was worth all the effort. During the hike we experienced a marked change in elevation that kept our hearts pumping. At the bottom of the mountain we got to the crystal stream. Setting aside a day for this hiking trip was indeed worth the time and effort.
The other hiking trip we told to do that would be wonderful was La Pedriza. It was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1992. We explored the caves, climbed to the top of the rock towers and got to see the biggest boulder in the world- El Tolmo. We decided to choose La Gran Canada route. This hike is easy to navigate and took us through a plethora of routes through the mountain, where we came across a big rock that looked like an engagement ring called Risco de Ofetoria. The old wives tale is that people came there to ask the universe to bring love into their lifes. It was a beautiful trail that tapered off into a ravine, where farmers used to bring their cattle and sheep.
One of the things we really wanted to see was bull fighting. A corrida or bull fight lasts up to two hours or so ,but there is no fixed time and depends on how many bulls are sent back to the corral. The matadors can be distinguished from the rest of the troupe as they are the only ones braided in gold. The fight is judged by the public and they may boo or clap or whistle. All in all it was fun and a once in a life time opportunity that no one should miss.
Since my girlfriend and I are both outdoor people, we decided we should do some fishing. We contacted a local group who organize these kind of trips and got our license etc to go fishing. The best river suggested to us was the Tormes. The Tormes is a fast and free flowing river with cascading water and is the home to trout which are about 14 – 16 inches. It was a super fun day doing fly fishing. There were local guides to help and we had a wonderful day.
Having spent so much of our time outdoors we decided to go and visit the Faunia Madrid which was built with the aim of bringing wildlife into the city as a form of biodiversity. The park is 140000 square meters and is home to over 1500 different animals from different ecosystems and different climates. We got to experience four different and distinct climate zones. This park has created a natural habitat to a host of different animals. The primary aim of building it was to teach conservation. It was an afternoon well spent.
We also wanted to see a flamenco show and went to one of the best restaurants in Madrid called the Corral de la Moreira and had some lovely tapas and amazing Spanish wine. The evening was fun. Spain also has incredible night life and almost all nightclubs and bars are open till the wee hours of the morning. Spanish people are fun loving and ready to share a glass of wine or tapas!
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