Saturday, March 24, 2012

Palace and Churros

I woke up in my nice dorm room all to myself with the radiator blasting next to my bed.  Today was the day I would rejoin Nicole at an AC Hotel she reserved.  I knew she was arriving early today, but I decided to run over to the Royal Palace since my hostel was so close before checking out.


Across from the Royal Palace in Madrid is the Plaza de Oriente.  It's a beautiful garden with majestic rows and paths for strolling around.  Later in my trip, I would learn a few funny secrets about this park.  The numerous statues in the park were meant to go along the roof of the Palace.  However, the statues were too heavy!  So they placed them throughout the garden.  If you look closely you'll notice that they aren't top quality sculptures, with random chips and unfinished details, because the artists didn't plan for people to see them up close!


Another interesting story I would learn was about the statue of a king on a horse in the park.  It's a large impressive bronze statue of a man on a horse with his 2 front legs in the air.  If you look at the statue and think about it you'll notice that the only part of the statue touching the base are the horse's two hind legs.  


This statue was built for a king who no one liked, but the kind wanted an impressive statue so maybe people would think differently of him.  So he insisted on having the horse up in the air... but the artist had issues.  The statue kept falling forward.... even hollow it was to heavy and off balance.  So they called in some brain power... Galileo!  Galileo came up with the genius idea to make the back half of the horse solid bronze and the front half hollow.  And now we have an impressive statue of an unpopular king!
Across from the garden, I walked over to the main gate for the Royal Palace.  They keep the public locked out from the courtyard within the Palace, so you have to pay and go through the visitor entrance.  It was early and the entrance had a bit of a line already.  I thought about waiting and going in, but didn't want to be here all day and I had to get back to my hostel for check-out.  I figured I would come back later, but that never really happened... Turned out it was Spain's Constitution Day this week, so the people celebrate by visiting the sites in Madrid.  Super crowded!

 I stuck my camera through the fence to get a nice shot of the palace.  Someone told me this palace is bigger than Versailles, but I didn't really believe them.  It's big, but it's hard to tell if it's really that big?  
 If you turn around from the Royal Palace Gate, you face the Cathedral.  It's not the most impressive Cathedral, but it does have interesting murals on the building and doors that are worth checking out.
 I assume this is the royal crest that I took a picture of.  It's very pretty stonework. 

 I turn to leave and notice the morning light shining into the lonely courtyard between the Palace and the Cathedral.  I headed down Calle Mayor towards my hostel and stopped over at the Mercado de San Miguel.  The market is a beautiful iron and glass historic structure.  My lonely planet book mentioned that Anthony Bourdain had been there on his show.  
I checked out the beautiful fruit stands and grabbed a cafe con leche to go.  


As I walked further along my way, I came upon a churro stand getting setup for the day.  The stall had all this steam pouring out the sides.  From a distance I thought it was on fire, but as I got closer I realized he was just getting his yummy churros ready.  So I bought a couple churros to dip in my coffee and kept moving.

I checked out of my hostel and headed towards the Retiro area where our hotel was.  Nicole had sent me an email to notify me that she had arrived and let the front desk know I was coming.  So I found our hotel in a very nice expensive looking area.  The AC Hotel was beautiful and modern.  Free wifi in the lobby bar and a bed to myself!  What more could I need?

The most entertaining part of the room was the frosted glass walls to the bathroom.  It really was a non-issue, because you couldn't even see details of a body through the glass, but it made the room feel very modern and fancy to me.  I liked it a lot!  

I also liked my new AC Hotel terry cloth slippers I found ready to wear under the sink.  :o)

But unfortunately, I found Nicole asleep in one of the beds with a cold.  She had been on the night train all night in a cabin with a family with a crying baby and she felt like crap.  She was down for the count and just wanted to rest for the remainder of the day.

I was dissapointed for her, but totally understood.  I showered up and got ready to explore more on my own while she rested up.  

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