|Palacio de Comunicaciones|
When Glenn and I travel our usual mode of transportation is our own two feet with an occasional train hop on-hop off bus served as our primary mode of transportation. I had always seen the big red double decker buses in city after city but with the exception of riding the water taxi version of them in Stockholm, had never hopped on board. I had always dismissed them as being purely for tourists but do you know what? We were tourists! And as I quickly found out you can cover a lot more territory on a bus than you can when you rely solely on your own two feet. And, when you are not sequestered underground the way you are on the metro, you get a whole new perspective on a place. While you are limited to the routes they choose (in Madrid's case there are two), a bus ride can give you a good view of what the city has to offer. From our front seat, roof top perch we had an amazing view of the city's sites and after one complete bus circuit we knew where we wanted to get off and explore.
|Templo De Debod|
And explore we did. To get a bird's eye view of the city we rode the telferico across Casa de Campo, now an expansive park but the site of the former royal hunting grounds. From our cable car we could take in both the city's skyline and the snow capped mountains in the distance. We visited Puerto del Sol, the spot from where all road distances in Spain are measured and explored the grounds of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) to see how the other half lives. (The monarchy is still alive and well in Spain). Here we were amazed by the sheer opulence and beauty of the palace's interior. (Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside of the palace so my picture taking was limited to exterior shots only). And then there were the plazas. One after another, each more impressive than the last, each broad plaza was rimmed by grand buildings and filled with fountains, sculptures, and artists portraying everything from Gothic figures and bronzed statues to Pompeii skeletons and abstract animals. And the city became even more magnificant after dark. At night the neo-classical Palacio de Comunicaciones anchoring the Plaza de Cibeles illuminiated the streets and created the iconic sight that Madrid is famous for. But as usual, my favorite part of the trip was simply wandering through the city streets. Narrow cobblestone streets spiraled off of every square and we quickly found ourselves meandering down one narrow street and up another, each filled with shops, cafes, and interesting architecture. It was easy to get disoriented but when we stepped into a new square we would use the skyline to reorient ourselves and move on.
The entire weekend was relaxing and one I won't soon forget. In addition to exploring a great city I loved having true "girl time". We talked, laughed, and in what is a rarity for both of us, focused on ourselves rather than our numerous responsibilities at home. Although a bit early, it was the perfect way to usher in a new decade. Will I return? Absolutely. I can't wait to share this city and her environs with my family because I am sure they will love it just as much as I did.