Travel With Ysabel: Madrid, Spain

Spain. The land of my forefathers, my ancestors! Although I only have slight Spanish decent, I think I’ve found a home in Spain because of the similarities it has in the Philippines; the influences it had reflected much of what we have back home. It’s a warm place (literally) filled with one of the kindest people I’ve met in Europe.

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 This is Plaza Mayor. It’s the central plaza of Madrid. It was a place of bull fighting, public executions and even a market place. The statue in the middle is King Philip III on his horse. The Philippines’ name was inspired from the name of his father King Philip II.

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The Sunday market in Madrid is called the El Rastro. It’s a flea market not only open on Sundays but public holidays as well. A huge variety of things from clothes, music, food, shoes, bags, souvenirs and the like are being sold there. Bargains are the way to go!

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It’s not difficult to fall in love with Madrid. I guess what made it quite easy for Marga, Justine and I is that we understand some Spanish words since some terms are also used in the Philippines. In my humble opinion, I think I wouldn’t have fully appreciated Filipino culture not until I saw where the biggest influence came from.

We walked around Madrid and bumped into a student named Pablo whom we asked for directions twice. We also invited him to dine with us for lunch. Here, we learned so much about Spain n just 2.5 hours. We even had an instant Spanish lesson! The Spanish are really kind and friendly people. Filipinos can’t be missed out – we met fellow kababayans, the Peñaflors, while shopping!

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J, Marga and I attended the SANDEMANs NEW Europe free walking tour of in the morning. Ramon, our tour guide, brought us around the western part of Madrid. This is the oldest restaurant in the world, the Restaurante La Cuevas de Luis Candelas. It was opened in 1725 and has involved famous people such as Francisco de Goya (who became a dishwasher to pay for art school) and Ernest Hemingway (a loyal customer who is often seen “getting stuffed and drunk”).

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The words on the purple wall is translated to “I was built over water and my walls are made of fire.” It would pertain to the ruins of the moorish wall of the 19th century, just below the Catedral de Almudena. Seen in these photos are the remains of flintstone, the kind of rock that when knock together, create sparks. When the enemies come down the hill to attack, the Moors light up the wall.

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The Teatro Real in Plaza de Isabel II is one of the best opera houses in Europe. In front is a statue of Queen Isabel II, who was not quite in her best behavior when she took over – she liked to fool around. She became the first female to rule Spain and became Queen at only 3 years old.
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Have you noticed something about the street signs of Spain? Many of these have illustrations on them and are also familiar to hear because they are surnames in the Philippines.

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I could not resist not having photos taken (and using my friends as models lol) at the Palacio de Madrid grounds and gardens! This was where Queen Isabel II and Felipe IV lived. It is one of the biggest palaces in Europe having 3,400 rooms inside. We were not allowed to take photos of the rooms but when you live there it’s like the whole world in your hands, you practically can fit anyone and everything in there. The palace was actually caught in a fire for 4 days but it was rebuilt with a neoclassical touch.

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The Jardins de Sabatini is another garden just beside the Palacio de Madrid. The gardens were named after Francesco Sabatini, an architect of some of the sections of the palace. This is me attempting a heel stretch selfie for a selfie contest by Sandsman. In the tour we also met a fellow Filipino named Juliet who was born in the Philippines, raised in the US and is now in Germany studying. Just like us she came to Spain for a vacation.

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Chocolateria San Gines is famous for their huge churros and hot chocolates. J, Marga along with our hostel friends Mattias and Constanza and I had an afternoon snack here before taking off on a busy day around Madrid.

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The Oso de Madrono, or a bear kissing a tree, is a symbol of Madrid.  The El Maroño tree produces fruit that can create strong liquor.

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The Templo de Debod is an Egyptian temple. I think it’s placed on a good setting where you can frolic in the park and/or watch the sunrise and sunset. Of course, I could not resist taking photos of the picturesque view and the married couple with us! They look lovely together.

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Our first-hand fun in Spain began thanks to the folks of Sun Gate Hostel. The staff is too kind for words and the acomodation is very comfortable and hassle-free! You get free meals, free laundry usage, free WiFi, the best things in life are free! Hahaha. I would like to extend my heartfelt thank you’s to Cristopher Portorreal for making us feel so much at home in Sun Gate! 🙂

Coming up next will be the second half of our winter break which is at Barcelona and Brussels. For now, enjoy the Madrid travel video below! 🙂