Viva España

After surviving our horrendous travel day - we were finally in Madrid and ready to get our vacation started!  Thanks to the lovely strike it was cut a day short, but we were not about to let that stop us!

We woke up early and opted out of having breakfast at the hotel; which was in an amazing location downtown behind Puerta del Sol.  We went to Starbucks!  I know, I am that typical American right, WRONG!  I have not had Starbucks since August, and I missed a normal size cup of coffee and not the tiny shot of coffee that they serve me here in France.  Since there was a Starbucks right across the street I could not pass up the opportunity to stop in and have a Grande Vanilla Latte - and it was just as delicious as I remember, but I digress.

After our yummy breakfast, before visiting any sights, some shopping was in order.  We went to El Corte Ingles, a type of Macy's where you can find everything and anything including your groceries.  Since I had left our stroller in France, we had to stop and buy Nathan a new stroller and pick up some other things.  After shopping, we were now ready for sightseeing.

Before heading to Madrid, we had asked our friends Belen and David all the places we needed to see.  Since they are both from Madrid they gave us great insight and made us a small travel plan.  This came in very handy, not only for the things to see, but more importantly for the things to EAT (but we will visit this topic later)!

We headed to Puerta del Sol, a very nice Plaza downtown.



We then continued our tour through Plaza Mayor, where we made friends.





I also don't know what happened to Spiderman once he got to Spain, but it is clear that the food is too good to resist.



We continued our tour of Plaza Mayor and did some window shopping.


We also saw the restaurant that Belen said was very pretty, but a tourist trap (Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas) - and to avoid eating there for their lack of good food and high prices.  Being the good tourist that I am, I took a picture and we kept walking.


We walked down and saw Palacio Real and the Cathedral.





We then headed towards El Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor market that sells fruits,vegetables, cakes and candies and has restaurants serving tapas all over!  We enjoyed taking a walk around the market and then decided to head elsewhere for lunch to avoid the huge crowd.




Belen and David had suggested a restaurant called Meson de la Guitarra, however they are only open at night (the play Flamenco music every night live) and so we headed next door to Meson del Rincon de la Cava.  We sat indoors to avoid the heat and decided to have a Clarita (beer with lemonade to cool down).  We also ordered a Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette) and some yummy fried seafood!







After refueling ourselves, we continued the tour.  We hopped on the subway (Nathan's first trip on a Subway) and headed down to see La Puerta de Alcala  and Las Cibeles Fountain.






We continued our walk through the park until reaching Christopher Columbus....







We were exhausted so we decided to head back to the hotel for a siesta before continuing on in the evening.  We were still kind of full from lunch so we decided to go from bar to bar eating tapas.

First on the list was Casa Labra, another place on the Belen and David list.  They are famous for their tapas de bacalau (fish).  They did not disappoint.  We are lucky that we were able to grab a seat because we tried to go back on Saturday evening and the line to grab a quick tapa at the bar was almost around the corner.  Spain was playing Chili so we were lucky that most people were at a bar with a TV watching the game.

After a some tapas and small beer, we continued on our way.  Somehow we ended back up at Plaza Mayor and we headed down the same street where we had eaten lunch.  We decided to try the restaurant across the street La Meson de Tapa Tapa.  We had a wide variety of tapas and they were so good and not expensive at all.  My favorite were the pimientos (almost the taste of a bell pepper).




Spain won the match and people were yelling in the streets!  What a great day to be in Spain.  We decided to head back to the hotel and rest up for our drive to Toledo the next morning.

Toledo is the home of Don Quixote and it is breathtakingly beautiful.  We couldn't resist the opportunity to take a picture of Nathan and Sancho Panza!







We took tours of the cathedral, the monastery and the synagogues.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.







We decided to head for lunch at a small restaurant on a garden terrace.  The food was good and Nathan had a great time playing and laughing.  The absolute best sound in the world.




After lunch we headed back to Madrid and decided to take the driving tour of Madrid including the stadium of Real Madrid the football team.


Later on that night we went shopping downtown and had a great time.  When forced with the decision about where to eat dinner, the choice was simple we went back to Meson de Tapa Tapa.  We had some delicious Morcilla, more tortilla and croquetas!  There is nothing better than a big pitcher of Sangria to help wash it all down.  The price tag for all of this delicious food....less than 20€!



  



The next morning we were driving back to Clermont.  The trip takes about 10 hours so we wanted to get an early start.  But not before taking our last breakfast at Starbucks and stopping by Cafe Mexicana!





We left Madrid and started driving.  We stopped in Burgos for lunch.  They were having some sort of festival so there were lots of people downtown in the plaza.  We decided to have lunch there and do some walking around.  When you are in Burgos you of course have to eat Morcilla de Burgos!











We made it back to Clermont by around 10 that night.  We were exhausted and had another amazing trip.  I was so grateful that we had driven back!

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