November 15, 2019
Shadows casted like Winogrand’s masterpiece, modern shapes like a piece from Picasso, foreground mashed with background in a symphony of grays like Frank and inspired like Cartier-Bresson; what can be more perfect than photography in a place that once brewed the seed to the art of the photograph.
I understand now why the romanticism of Europe is so intoxicating, its beautiful people and structures, its constant need to meld and create is empowering as an artist. Here is a glimpse to a series just beginning its life just as our life begins together as newlyweds on this “Iberican Honeymoon”. Olé indeed.
November 17, 2019 – November 20, 2019
Madrid is a beast! Barcelona and Sevilla pales in comparison in size. Imagine 50,000 restaurants alone in just Madrid proper. Ubering with Daniel through the traffic madness of Spain’s capitol city, Madrid, we knew we got our hands full for the next week. The busy metropolis with its vibrant sidewalks, radiant cityscapes, and handsome classic architecture looks very impressive...we felt like it had a very Manhattan vibe to it...but boy were we wrong!
Crossing the Puerta de Alcala, we entered the city’s center of Puerta Del Sol where the mascot of the city is a bear nuzzling a strawberry tree and a whale-shaped metro station with all of the main streets radiating from this center point. Entering the Plaza Mayor with its royal statue surrounded by some of the world’s oldest stores like Sobrino de Botin (world’s oldest restaurant) and the La Mallorquina (world’s oldest bakery). Botin’s legendary suckling pig and baby lamb have been copied all over the world but nothing will beat the original! The fire lit by the founder hundreds of years ago is still burning strong in the store’s oven below, but we were also given permission to explore their wine cellar deep in an underground cave beneath the restaurant where dusty untouched wine bottles dating back some 400 years still sit. Amazing!! Finish lunch off with some Napolitana de Crema and Milhoja at La Mallorquina was just muy perfecto!
We finished the evening with a Haunted Madrid Ghost Tour!! Harry our guide spooked us out with some epic stories of the hauntings that was found throughout Madrid. He was nice enough to also show us around his hometown, gave us spot on places where the locals dine, and even persuaded us to explore Toledo and Segovia!
What a great first day in the capitol city. Tons left to explore, and we can’t wait to meet and greet the Medrilenos.
Hopping onto the back of the bus before sunrise this morning in between a shy Spaniard and a polite old Chinese couple, we were also greeted by a blonde Russian, an annoying Chinese lesbian couple, and our favorite kid on this trip, Eden, who looked like me when I was six (same haircut and demeanor) with his bright red bubble jacket, we were heading to Toledo and Segovia.
After an hour of open beautiful farmlands and rolling hills of Castilla-La Mancha we arrived in Toledo. The old capitol city was tucked high up in the mountains with medieval Moors, Jewish, and Christian architecture, brass markings, and ethnic cultural influences all over the city. The Mannerist paintings of El Greco was also a town highlight, and more recently the sword craftsmanship and filming of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings also was a marketing favorite in all of the local shops. We were also introduced to Marzepan, a local sweet that was tiny but packed with dense sugar...coffee is recommended. We stopped by El Tredol for some surprisingly delicious sandwiches before heading off to Segovia.
Climbing some altitude to Segovia, we can see the mile-long 2,000 years old Roman aqueduct as we got closer to town. The structure stood solely for thousands of years on just incredible Roman engineering...no cement just stones on top of stones. We swung by El Barnardinio recommended by Vemmel, our lady guide, and then our short walk up the side of a cliff into the Alcazar de Segovia. This UNESCO castle served as an inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle and the Disney trademark. It was surrounded by a very deep moat, beautiful arched windows, some classic paintings and medieval furniture, and a quaint central courtyard with a fountain. A walk into the past was a treat after a few days of Madrid’s hustle and bustle.
On our way back to the bus we were hoping to see an old Gypsy woman that was selling silk scarves under an abandoned building, but she must have gone home for the day and we never saw her again. Eden had found his parents and the rest of our little Família de Autobus was ready for that long ride back to the capitol and a short metro ride to our home away from home. A very chill day with some epic photos for the memory books.
If you’re in for a bargain and a cheapskate like me, or a antique hunter, even perhaps an artsy fartsy that just like crafts from local artisans, well the Madrid’s El Rastro is the perfect occasion for you. Every Sunday morning down Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, the cobblestone road is closed off for nearly a mile long outdoor flea market. A great time to get some bargains on souvenirs, unique Spanish style clothing, Flamenco gears, and just everything cool that you can think of...even a magic lantern if you search hard enough. We definitely did not come out empty handed but too bad we both came with only a small carryon. We stopped by for a calamari breakfast sandwich that was out of this world delicious!!! I kid you not!!! Attempted to get some cookies from cloistered nuns from a monastery, saw some local cyclists, and made our way to the world famous Chocolateria San Ginés for some churros dipped in dark chocolate with cortado...one of the best pastries I have ever eaten in my life. Simply a great Sunday morning and a few more things to cross off our bucket list.