When we had a choice flying from Palma to Rome through Madrid, there were no second thoughts, definetely in, definetely agreed, defintetely LET'S DO THAT! I mean who would miss a chance seeing one more city? Have to admit it's good to have a person who shares your point of view, because during my life I encountered people that would prefer travelling directly to their destination, since to them it's much more comfortable and less tiring than spending extra time, extra flights ect.
We arrived at the airport of Madrid early in the morning. The airport itself gives you a good impresion, clean and big with lots of shops and cafes, but the organisation should be worked on. We spent more than an hour trying to figure out how to get out. I mean you can see the exit, but you have to pass a certain passport control for transit travelers in order to get out. We walked from one floor to another, some of which were completely empty, and we couldn't find anyone to give as directions. At one point the man sitting at the passport control let Oleg go, while to me he said that I'm not supposed to be here and have to go to a different stand. Of course the hope of geting out of this maze vanished at once. "Your colleagues just let my friend go" I told him and pointed at Oleg. "Really? No, that's not correct." He called Oleg towards us and scratched out the stamp that was put in his passport just 2 minutes ago. To make a long story short, we finally managed to find a way out. The excitement I felt while getting out is undescribable.
We took the metro, which actually is very comfortable since it's connected to the airport, and went directly to Plaza de Espana, according to the route we had planned at waytips.com. It was a fresh morning at the end of September (2014). Since we spent too much time at the airport, we were already hungry so decided to have breakfast right there, at a corner cafe, which offered different types of breakfast with varieties of eggs, bacon, vegetables, coffee for around 5-8 euros depending on what you chose. After our batteries were charged, we started walking around as planned. Our first stop was of course at the Cervantes monument with the bronze sculptures of his most famous characters- Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, located at Plaza de Espana. I think that this is the most loved monument by kids, they were all over it.
Next was the gardens of Sabatini (Jardines de Sabatini), named after an Italian architect. The gardens are a tranquil area, with statues of Spanish kings, a few fountains, and what i personally liked most, with lots of trees and bushes placed in different sequences of symmetrical, geometrical shapes and patterns, which to my idea contributes to the feeling of calmness and peace and yet gave me a playful attitude, wanting to run around those alive mazes. Since the gardens are part of the Royal Palace, they offer a view of the palace too.
We continued our walk, passed by the Royal palace. The view of the palace is available from the gardens of Sabatini, which i mentioned earlier, the Plaza de Oriente and the Plaza de la Armeria, which allows you to see the palace as a whole. Because of the lack of time, we didnt go in, plus I have to admit that no matter where I have been before, the palaces don't interest me that much, the interiors although differ are in some way kind of the same. Continuing our walk I was pleased to notice that even the street name signs are pretty.
While continuing our acquaitance with the city, we also got to pass by the National Library of Madrid, a big and fundamental building. I think it looks very invinting, calling you inside in order to get lost in the world of knowledge and fantacy.
Next, we decided to walk towards the central square called La Puerta del Sol, where the symbol of Madrid is located - a monument of a bear and a berry tree. Of course, nobody exacly knows why this is the symbol of the city, it is believed that the area was full of bears and the berry tree might be a symbol of the hackberry tree, which was also in abundance. Another theory is that following a 13th-century dispute over hunting rights on the land that was owned by the church, an agreement was reached that the church owned the soil, but the people of Madrid owned everything above the ground. Then, the symbol of Madrid was born - a Bear (the church's emblem) sniffing a tree.
There are a bunch of stores located around the La Puerta del Sol, which is also the reason why the area is so populous. Following the route we created, we decided to walk around the city admiring the architecture of each building. Although, we were at the center of such a big city, all the buildings are worth looking at, the architecture is truly amazing, and what amazed me more is how clean the roads and streets are. In a fast rhythm that every megapolis has, here you get the feeling of a continuous connection to beauty, the beauty of art. A city full of opposites living side by side, calmness and speed, old and new, concrete and trees, grey and colour - all becoming one.
Heading to our final destination, our route drove us to the Retiro park, one of the largest parks of Madrid and a get-away for families. Another place, which combines opposites, you can easily find a place in the shade to sit end enjoy the company of your own self and the sound of the birds and silent statues, or you can take a sit at one of the cafeterias next to the pond located right infront of the monument to Alfonso XII, in the company of families, teenagers, kids. Once again, Madrid amazed me with how plants are transformed to something unusual and extraordinaire. I called these the broccoli-like trees.
Finally after a coffee break at the Retiro park, we reached our last stop- The Museum del Prado. The statue of Goya infront of the building was overlooking at all the visitors and big crowds wishing to get in. Of course, we didnt have a chance to see all the works we wanted, but Goya, Velasquez, Titian, Rubens were in my list of "have to see". In one of the rooms I noticed the very well known, immediately recognizable works of Bosch, which never was my favourite. Nevertheless, listening to the audio guide, his work The Garden of Earthy Delights gave me a whole new side of this artist.
Unfortunately, our time at Madrid had come to an end, we had to head back to the airport, which continued playing games with us by changing the terminals of our flight, and made us drive from one terminal to another. Let me not mention that by driving back and worth, you waste time and get nervous about missing your flight. The good thing is that they have information stands that connect you to workers of the airport through Skype and give you precise directions of what to do.
Madrid is definetely a city worth visiting. I wish we had more time there, but it was time to go, so we sat in the plane thankful we had taken the chance of visiting such a beautiful place, looking forward to Rome....