Madrid, and most of Spain for that matter, is a late-night culture, which we discovered during our Tapas Crawl (See the last post!). Luckily, this also means they tend to sleep in and attractions don’t even open until after 10 or 11 AM most days. This is great because it means we honeymooners were able to sleep in after our late nights and not feel any guilt about possibly missing out on the countless wonders that Madrid holds!
So, after *ahem* recovering *ahem* from our tapas crawl the prior evening, we hopped on the Metro and rode a few stops to the Palacio Real de Madrid. We used our Madrid Passes to get into both the Palace and the Cathedral, and it was a great deal. I’m working on a post about ways to save while traveling in Europe, so look for that sometime soon! The entire area around the Palace is gorgeous, and really makes you feel like you’ve gone back a couple hundred years to a more extravagant time. The Palace is still the official residence of the Spanish Royals, but is open whenever they aren’t in residence. The public tour shows only 15 of the 3,418 (!!!) rooms, and every room is more extravagant than the last. I can only imagine what the private rooms look like. Once you get out of the entry way no photos are allowed, but the plaza outside had a lot of opportunities for amazing shots.
After the tour, we walked across the Plaza to the Almudena Cathedral. While Spain is known for many churches dating back hundreds of years, construction on this one didn’t begin until 1879 and wasn’t completed until 1993. The cathedral itself is beautiful, but the views from the top are breathtaking. We opted to climb the stairs to the roof (because apparently we wanted to get a leg workout in that day), and the pay-off was worth every single stair. I’ll just leave some photos here instead of talking anymore about it:
We descended the stairs (much easier on the way down!) and went through the Cathedral Museum, which holds Church artifacts from throughout Spain’s Catholic history. I had to make a stop in the gift shop on our way out to pick up my go-to souvenir: a Rosary. I’m hoping to have one from churches all over the world. I’ve always thought the Rosary was an amazing prayer tradition in the Catholic Faith, and seeing how people from all walks of life worship in the same way has always been really inspiring to me.
For good measure, here are a few more photos from the Cathedral:
We grabbed a quick lunch in the neighborhood, then headed back to the hotel for our new favorite tradition, the Siesta! We decided to do a mini-crawl on the sweeter side of things, and headed towards two of the top-rated spots for Hot Chocolate and Churros. Our first stop was Chocolatería Valor, where we tried the Hot Chocolate sampler, which gave us 4 types of hot chocolate to try, ranging from the darkest cocoa down to a a white chocolate. The traditional Spanish dessert is more of a pudding consistency, and less of the hot chocolate drink Americans are familiar with. All four were delicious, but my favorite was the second from the darkest chocolate. It was rich and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.
After that, we walked to the oldest Hot Chocolate shop in Madrid, Chocolatería San Gines, which was founded in 1894. We tried the traditional hot chocolate and churro here, and it was a milkier chocolate flavor than any we tried in the first flight. It was also a sturdier chocolate which was a bit better for dipping the churros in.
Typing this blog is making me want to get on a plane right now just to get some more of this goodness. So. Delicious.
We ended the evening with some dinner and a little bit of wine, a great way to end the first leg of our Spain adventure.
The next day, we hopped on a train to Seville, and OH boy did we run into a couple of hiccups. Stay tuned for more on that!