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It’s been almost a week since my trip to Madrid, but after a busy week and some quiet down time I feel refreshed and mentally prepared to rejoin the blogosphere. So, hello again.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was looking forward to having a travel partner on this trip and I was not disappointed. Though I am enjoying learning how to travel alone, moving at my own pace, taking in all around me, it was a nice change of pace to have someone along for the ride.

On Sunday we arrived in the center of Madrid around 2pm and headed straight for Plaza Mayor to enjoy a cool drink and the warm sun. The entire day was spent moving from one terrace to another enjoying the 35C (95F) weather – a big change from cool, rainy Nederland. The two places I enjoyed the most on the first day were Mercado de San Miguel and Palacio Real.

Mercado San Miguel is an old indoor market from the early 1900’s which was almost torn down, but instead renovated into a modern indoor market with fresh food and a wonderful wine bar we visited more than once. Being there reminded me of the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. I would highly recommend this spot for tapas, drinks, and some beautiful freshly cut ham for the road. (Here’s a NY Times article about MM.)

Palacio Real de Madrid, or the Royal Palace of Madrid, was another beautiful spot. Not only is the palace a grand building, but we happened to walk by at dusk and caught an amazing view over the city. Every once in a while I’m actually able to capture exactly what I saw with my little point-and-shoot camera and fortunately this was one of those times (see slideshow below).

Monday we took off work and bought day tickets for the hop-on, hop-off bus. Though Madrid really isn’t all that big, with the hot sun beating down, this was a much nicer and more relaxing way to see the city. Being on the top deck also offered great views of the tall art deco buildings up and down Gran Via. Again, we ate and drank our way around the city and were able to enjoy Parco del Retiro, Estadio Santiago Bernbau (Real Madrid’s stadium) and many other interesting views.

Madrid was a much more beautiful city than I’d anticipated and would go back in a heartbeat. The way of life is laid back and friendly, the drinks are cold, the sun is hot, and the food is delicious. You haven’t had ham until you’ve been to Madrid.

All in all the trip was a nice one and as I mentioned, it was a welcome change to have a travel partner. Good thing too, because we have another extended stay planned for late August but the story about that one (and the secret location) requires a blog post on its own and will likely follow later this week. For now, enjoy the photos.

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