The Final European Chapter

We made it!! After more than a year, I have finally motivated my lazy ass to blog the final chapter of my Europe trip!! I promise, after this I will stop living in the past. I feel like a hibernating bear crawling out of his cave of Europe photos after a whole year of comfy slumber. Time to catch some fish.

Sooo…the final leg of our journey after the relaxing Benalmadena beach trip was a few days of urban culture in Madrid. The first thing we did after surviving the packed bus trip to the city center was unload our bags at the hostel and head down to the restaurant square to have a pint.

The first thing we noticed in Madrid was that we actually needed to use our limited Spanish. No one spoke English and after spending a week in the British stomping grounds of Benalmadena this seemed somehow shocking to us. It was was a welcome change of authenticity, so we busted out our Spanish/English dictionary and actually started trying.

We took a walk to the Royal Palace of Madrid, watched a Bride to Be wade through an ancient fountain in a strawberry costume and enjoyed the Spanish sunset. After the sun went down, we began our hunt for food. First we stumbled upon the Mercado de San Miguel (San Miguel Market) which was incredible, with food stands offering a wide variety of every food and dessert under the sun, but it was packed and we were looking for somewhere to sit down and relax. So we continued happily roaming the streets and even happened upon a few surprises along the way like the hard apple cider slushy cart (Waupoos slushy anyone!?!?!?!) and a sausage snack stand! As you know by now, our previous Spanish tapas experience had been been less than satisfactory along the way, so we were searching for something authentic but maybe a little more our style. We found exactly that at an amazing restaurant that served unique tapas like walnut and brie on a baguette smeared with caramelized onion jelly and smoked salmon with dill and brie (again…I love brie)…it was perfect. We also loved it for it’s young, fun, atmosphere – it was like the Dundas and Ossington of Madrid. I can’t find what street it was exactly, but if you Google map “cafe majaderitos Madrid”, that’s the street we were on. You know, in case you’re going to Madrid.

The next day we woke up at 9 to start our day. When we left our hostel, we realized that in a city where everyone goes to sleep at 4am, no one wakes up until 11. Especially on a Sunday. We traveled the streets searching for a cup of coffee on our way to ‘El Rastro”, a flea market said to be the largest in Europe. No coffee was to be had until we reached the market, where thankfully one of the 3,500 stalls served Jamie’s and my lifeblood. We spent several hours at this market, which was surprising because I assumed after a couple hours, Jamie would fold as many men do in shopping situations. But he bravely explored with me, as we looked for gifts for loved ones, interesting antiques and various markety snacks, even when it started pouring rain.

That afternoon, we went to The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum where we saw some of my favourite artists’ works up close. We were going to go to the Museo del Prado which is the most famous Art Museum in Madrid, but we kind of ran out of time, chose which artists were our personal favourites and most of those works were in the Thyssen. It was amazing until the museum started to close and we had to leave…then we went for a walk over to the Museo del Prado and took pictures there as if we actually went inside. Which we didn’t. We hung around on the grassy hill and people watched, then walked back to our hostel through the Parque del Retiro, a big, pretty park next to the Artists Walk. We soaked up the sunset and took as many photos of random architecture as we could because tonight was our last night in Europe. We finished off the day at the same restaurant as the night before, got gelato and went went to sleep.

The next day, we had a fancy shmancy breakfast to cheer us up because we were leaving.

This was the best trip of my life so far (hence why I spent an entire year focusing on it) and I feel really lucky because a lot of people never get to get to experience a trip like that in their lifetime. It also proved that Jamie and I travel well together, which I’ve heard is not always the case with some couples. We are in the process of trying to decide where to go next, so I’ll let you know when we figure it out. But for now, I’m going to try this new thing called blogging about what’s currently happening, not what happened a year ago. We’ll see how that goes 🙂

Ugly:

Not being in Europe.

Awesome:

One of my favourite parts of Madrid was seeing paintings which I’ve admired since I was a small child, in person. I’ve been to art museums before, but I don’t think I ever saw paintings in real life that I’ve been staring at for my entire life in books. I saw paintings by Picasso, Dali, Degas, Renoir, Vermeer, Van Gogh and it was awesome.

Next time on Ugly/Awesome: Who knows!? It’s back to blogging real time!

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