We woke up at the wonderul hour of 4am. We showered, dressed and were out the door by 4:30, heading to Malpensa airport. Our EasyJet flight would be taking off for Madrid at 7:45am.
Our flight to Madrid was uneventful, just want you always hope for when flying. We landed in Madrid and caught the Metro into the city. We had to change Metro lines twice to get to our hotel, but once we reemerged from underground we were only a couple of blocks from the hotel.
Madrid is the hub and capital of Spain, has a population of 3.2 million. It's a fairly new city, by European standards. In 1561 King Philip II decided to move the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Madrid bid to host the 2012 Olympics, but lost out to London. City improvements have continued even though the city lost the bid, making residents happier than ever to see newly renovated squares, Metro stations, parks and much more.
We will be spending the next 4 nights at the Hotel Regent, located on Gran Via, near the pedestrian zone in the city center.
After dropping off our luggage, we headed out to see the city. We grabbed a bite to eat then headed to the main plaza to begin a walking tour in our Rick Steve's book. Our guidebook walking tour began in Puerta del Sol.
This was Madrid's first post office, established in the 1760's by Charles III. Today its the governors office.
Kilometer Zero, the very center of Spain.
Even the bottoms of the balconies have fancy painted tiles.
We made our way towards Plaza Mayor. Built in 1619, each side of this square is uniform and was built by Philip III. Ove the centuries this square has seen bullfights, fires, royal pageantry and the Inquistition. Today it's a home for street performers, numismatics booths and at this time of year, a Christmas fair.
Some of Disney's characters have long lost relatives who have fallen on hard times. Even beloved Mickey has relatives in Madrid.
A street performer not related to anything Disney.
Plaza Mayor is also where superheros retire. The tapas must be popular with the Spidey.
We stopped for lunch at Mercado de San Miguel. This is a very lively place packed with food stands and lots of people. We had bought a few tapas, some sangria and found a place to eat. Very tasty.
Lots of olive choices
Brandon enjoys and olive with feta cheese
Mercado de San Miguel is a busy place
Brandon has become an electronic kid lately.
Cathedral of Almudena, built between 1883 and 1993.
Across from the cathedral is the Royal Palace. We plan to visit the Royal Palace on Monday. This view is looking across the courtyard of the Palace.
We finished the walking tour and headed back to our hotel for a nap. We were all tired from such an early start this morning. Katrina fell asleep first. Before I fell asleep, Brandon was playing a game on Katrina's Itouch. When I woke up an hour or so later, he was asleep in his bed.
Around 6:30pm we decided to head out to see the Christmas lights and find some dinner.
View of Gran Via from our balcony
Brandon was not happy about heading out again.
Brandon still not happy to be out this evening.
Katrina checks email on her Ipod Touch, using McDonalds free wifi.
Christmas lights in Madrid
Brandon was hoping to find these roasted corn nuts while in Spain. His friend from school, Diego, introduced him to this crunchy snack.
The Christmas tree in Puerta Del Sol
We wanted to eat at El Gaucho, a restaurant that specializes in grilled meat, but they didn't open until 8:30pm and we were tired. We ended up at a buffet restaurant that looked fairly good, but ended up being really bad. No more buffets for us.
It was a great first day, although tiring. Tomorrow we will visit some museums.