Madrid: Don Quixote, Plaza de Espana and Royal Palace of Madrid

Day three in Madrid.

This was going to be a much well planned day for sure. I got the day’s plan all well mapped out the evening before. This time I know where to go, for how long and most importantly what to eat!

In Barcelona, we attempted to get a table at el Bulli. That ALMOST materialized but ended up having a very interesting meal in Alkimia. In Seville, the big dinner was in La Alqueria which is a restaurant owned by el Bulli serving past year’s favourite. In Madrid, we had also planned for a big dinner and day three is the day for that.

We were very well rested too. That was so important because we were gonna explore more of Madrid by foot this time rather than going into the subways.

So with a second wind, we woke up bright and early.

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I guess it was way too early. Not many restaurants were opened and if they were, the choices were simple. I am guessing that this is the time for the Spanish FIRST breakfast.

Yeah, these smart people sure knows how to eat. The Spaniards have up to SIX meal times (see my post here).

We choose this restaurant solely on one criteria … there was no one smoking in here.

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So we just had churros and cafe con leche for the FIRST breakfast. It was cafe con leche almost every morning we were in Spain and we never got tired of it.

It was a really quick breakfast eaten by the narrow counter against the wall. We were dying to get out of there because … well, people starting coming in and started to smoke.

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This time we explored west ward on Gran Via and headed to the Plaza de Espana. This part of Gran Via seems different from the part we were in where there were a lot of shops, mostly fashion. This part seems more “corporatey”.

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We wanted to see the monument on this large square. Right in the middle of the square is the monument to … Miguel de Cervantes.

Cervantes is a giant in Spanish literature. During Spain’s Golden Age, he wrote what is considered the first novel on western literature. His book, Don Quixote, is considered as one of the greatest works of fiction ever written.

I was wondering that perhaps if the Spanish domination had continued through history and that the English did not supplant their world domination, perhaps Cervantes would have been considered a more important than William Shakespeare.

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The statue of Don Quixote was designed to make it difficult for people to climb onto them. It was not impossible but it was tricky. I was so afraid she will fall off the deck because … well … let’s put it this way … she is not particularly nimble on her feet kind of person.

Suanne wanted to have a picture taken with Dulcinea, Don Quixote’s true love but she was set on a separate tall pedestal.

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There were hardly any people at the Plaza de Espana since it was very very early. The only people there were the ground keepers.

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We spent half an hour in the quietness of the plaza and had our second “savory” breakfast just like the Spaniards do. 🙂

We got these very cheaply (two euros I think) from the Museo del Jamon.

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Our main program for the morning was a visit to the vast Palacio Real de Madrid (the Royal Palace of Madrid). It was just a short 10 minutes walk and the weather was still good.

When we got there, it took a while for us to locate the entrance to this huge building. Every door was closed and the windows blinds drawn.

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We expected to see a bigger entrance and a lot of people milling around the entrance. Apparently it was still early and there were no lines at all.

We just zipped in.

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The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the King of Spain. He doesn’t live here but this building is used for official functions.

We signed up for a guided tour which was worth it. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures to show you because photography is forbidden. I find a lot of tourist places does not allow photography here and was wondering if it is because of security reason (i.e. terrorism).

Anyway, the tour went through the Throne Room, the Royal Armory, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Pharmacy among others. As you can imagine this palace is lavishly decorated.

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Across the courtyard of the palace is the Almudena Cathedral. We did not go in there as we had spent a lot of time already in the Palace.

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When we got out we were surprised to see a huge line formed. Whew! Good thing we got there early or else we would have spent a long time just to get in. I think with the crowd this size, there was going to be another wait too for the guided tours.

We were hungry by then. It was time to head to our “big dinner” in Madrid.

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