After two nights in Santiago de Compostela, we took an early morning five-hour train to Madrid through the Spanish countryside. Kevin took two naps, fussed a little, and was pretty well-behaved. We arrived at the Madrid train station, took cabs to our hotel, ditched our bags, and headed out to explore the city. I studied in Madrid in college nearly 20 years ago but hadn’t been back since. I was excited to return!
We walked through the Plaza de España featuring a statue honoring Spanish writer Cervantes. His characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are memorialized as well.
We saw the opera house and the cathedral.
We arrived in Plaza Mayor and had a little snack and a little wine.
Gordo (“fat”) Spider Man, a street performer in the plaza, recognized my cousin Mike from Mike’s visit last year and the two hugged and laughed together.
We had a nice afternoon walking around the city.
We went to a fabulous Argentine steakhouse for dinner. The menu had a bottle of Argentine wine that sells for about seven dollars in Paraguay. In Madrid it was about $20! We drank Spanish wine with our dinner.
Today we walked 8.94 miles, took 29,386 steps, and went up 32 flights of stairs.
The next morning we started our day with a Segway tour around Madrid. When my cousin Mike first suggested that we take a Segway tour we were not very enthusiastic about the idea. But after Segway guides approached us and we negotiated on the price, we signed up. I’m glad we did it – it was a lot of fun!
Our tour began in Plaza Mayor and then headed to nearby plazas and historical landmarks.
We went past Casa Botin, opened in 1725 it is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world. We made plans to return for dinner that night. When I studied in Madrid, I ate here a few times with visitors including my parents and I was excited to eat there again.
Our tour took us to the Plaza de Santiago, the Madrid starting point for the Camino de Santiago.
We saw the cathedral and palace.
Following our fun tour, we had a delicious breakfast near Plaza Mayor. With full bellies, we wandered through Mercado San Miguel, a beautiful and upscale market, much like San Francisco’s Ferry Building.
That afternoon we walked to Retiro Park, a large urban park.
From Retiro, we walked back towards Plaza Mayor.
Casa Botin was fabulous for dinner!
Their specialties are roasted baby pig and gazpacho. I had both!
They didn’t disappoint! The waiter told me it was good luck to be served the tail. I didn’t eat it, but my cousin happily took a bite and said it was good bet pretty crunchy!
After dinner we peeked into the kitchen. There were so many roasted pigs on shelves! The chefs told us that the pigs spend four hours roasting in the oven.
After we left the restaurant, we walked to Plaza Mayor where there was a concert. We enjoyed one last round of port wine together!
Today we walked 10 miles around the city. We took 22,901 steps and walked up 52 flights of stairs. The next morning we said our goodbyes before my cousin, aunts, and uncles headed to the airport.
Annie and Kevin and I had time for one last visit to Plaza Mayor before we had to part ways.
And just like that, our time together ended and everyone went their separate ways. Annie stayed in Madrid for a few more nights and Kevin and I headed to the airport. Kev was a travel champ on our 11 hour flight to Brazil, 7 hour layover, and 2 hour flight to Paraguay!
It really was a wonderful trip and I suspect each of my travel companions are already thinking about their next Camino. I know I sure am!