12 days in Spain & 4 days in Paris- 9/12/14- 9/9/28/14

Madrid -Day 1 Madrid -Day 2

Madrid- Day 1 - The arrival

After the last breakfast in Seville we drove to Madrid.  The distance between Seville and Madrid is 332 miles (534 km) and it took about less than 6 hours to reach our destination. We took the A5 and the drive was smooth and pleasant.

If you are taking Spain's highways you will come across giant billboards with the figure of a black bull. They are everywhere!

Some are perched on top of a hill, some next to the freeway but always visible while driving from the highway.  They are the Osborn's black bull.

Osborne's black bull was a commercial trade mark of Osborne, a producers of sherry and other spirits, and giant bull billboards across Spanish roads made it a very popular symbol in the Spanish countryside.


Arriving in Madrid


We are now driving by the Puerta del Sol Square which is Madrid's historic center looking for our hotel.   Our GPS instructed us to make a left turn.

A left turn?  What left turn? there is no road to turn into. All we see is this big square.  We circled around twice and then realized that the square is strictly reserved for pedestrians.  After asking around we got the confirmation that we had to park our car at a nearby garage and then walk back to the square.

 We are staying at Hotel Europe which you can see in the center of this picture which is recommended in Rick Steve's guide book.


Puerta del Sol square is car-free and it is always bustling with people. Several streets around Puerta del Sol lead to major sights

nearby such as the Plaza Mayor, the Opera House and the Royal palace which I you will get a chance to see soon.


Today there are a lot of people on the Square because there is a protest in progress...


Protestors marching on the center square.


Apparently the square is well known for Protesters to march causing problems for shopkeepers.

The main complaint is that every time there is a protestation, shopkeepers see their sales drop dramatically. People simply avoid shopping in this area when there's a protest.

But for us it is quite interesting to witness a demonstration in the street of Madrid.

Close by the square you can see Casa de Correos, a red and white building with a bell tower.  This was Madrid first post office.

Regional Government of Madrid (Old Post Office Building). It was erected in 1768 as the city's main post office after a design by the French architect Jacques Marquet. The clock tower was added later, in 1866.


In the middle of the Puerta del Sol square stood a large equestrian statue of King Carlos III who is also known as  " the best mayor of Madrid".

The King faces the Casa de Correos (red and white building).


On the square you will also find a statue of a bear pawing a tree : El Oso y El Madroño, a twenty ton statue of a bear eating fruits from a tree. The Madroño is a tree related to the strawberry tree. The female bear symbolizes the fertile soil of Madrid and the tree symbolizes the aristocracy.


Calle de Arenal is a pedestrian and traffic-free zone emanating from the Puerta del Sol Square.

It is one of Madrid's busiest streets, with a variety of shops, including gifts and souvenirs, and there plenty of cafes and restaurants.  This street is also very fun at night time to walk around.



Street performer between Puerta del Sol square and Calle de Arenal.

A Charcuterie shop on Calle de Arenal


Hoa is in heaven here... lots of Jamón Ibérico


The famous Jamón Ibérico de bellota

At the end of calle de Arenal you will see Plaza de Isabel II.


Apartments in this area are really nice.


Cafe/bar lining the street.


Plaza de Oriente.

On the left is theTeatro Real on the right is the famous Café de Oriente which has a great terrace to sit outside and to enjoy the spectacular views of the square.

Plaza de Oriente is a spacious plaza reserved for Pedestrians only.   There are no cars so you feel like you are not in the city but rather in the suburbs.

Teatro Real means Royal Theatre or simply referred to as El Real is a major opera house.


The Teatro Real is located in front of the Royal Palace (which you will see below). It stands where the old theatre of Los Caños del Peral once stood. Los Caños del Peral was built in 1708 and was pulled down when almost a ruin in 1818 to make way for the new Teatro Real.

Originally opened on 19 November 1850 and then closed in 1925.   After renovation it was reopened in 1997 with a capacity of 1,746 seats. The Teatro Real is now home to the Compañía del Teatro Real. They specialize in opera, though also ballet on occasion. They regularly work with most of Spain's leading talent in opera, including world famous names such as Plácido Domingo.


Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

We got there too late to visit the palace so we will go back the next morning.



Part of the garden leading to the royal palace.



After a good walk and sight seeing we stopped by the La Mar Del Alabardero for some cocktails.

La Mar Del Alabardero is a restaurant located just in front of the Royal palace.

We opted to sit at the terrace so we can have the view of the royal palace and the Oriente plaza.


Hoa ordered the Aprilas Violet - 12

Minh opted for the Negroni - 10


According to Hoa and Minh they had the best cocktail so far! Pricier but you definitely get what you pay for.

The view from the terrace is really amazing too.


Next.. Dinner at BOTIN



Our house


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