Day 12 - June 19
After an exciting day yesterday, comes probably our most relaxed and unplanned day of the entire trip! We had briefly noted down that we wanted to go to the El Rastro flea market and try to catch one of the free Madrid walking tours. There was nothing else planned except… That I had booked another hammam session from Hammam Al Andalus in Madrid (same company as the one in Granada).
We took the metro to the La Latina station for the El Rastro. Although it was a Thursday, it was opened as it was a public holiday :D.
I think it wasn’t as packed as it would have been if it was a Saturday or Sunday, but it was still a nice walk. We did not buy anything from the stalls, but we did buy sandals from one of the shops near the El Rastro.
After 12 days of walking, we decided enough was enough and bought a pair of comfortable sandals each. The irony was that we had only 2 more days in Spain :P. Should’ve probably bought it much earlier! Haha.
From the El Rastro, we then made our way to Plaza Mayor by foot as it was within walking distance. Along the way, we saw a Taiwanese Bubble Tea store! It was pretty amusing for us to see a bubble tea store in Spain and we couldn’t resist the urge to buy a cup! The owner was Chinese, not sure if she was Taiwanese though.
Just before we arrived at Plaza Mayor, we went to a cafe which served really, really delicious Portuguese egg tarts! Unfortunately we did not take a shot of the place itself, but here are the tarts anyway:
And then there was this bear made out of gummy bears somewhere along the road…
And we finally arrived at Plaza Mayor, where we’d be joining SANDEMANs Madrid Free Walking Tour. We arrived a little earlier than the start time and spent some time exploring Plaza Mayor.
Our guide was Eduardo, and he was very knowledgeable and energetic, offering lots of information and trivia as he took us around Madrid! The group was relatively large, probably larger than it should be, and unfortunately for us, there were people among the group that simply had no respect for Eduardo or anyone else… They were constantly talking even when Eduardo was trying hard to talk to us. With that said, Eduardo was a great guide :)!
Here are some of the photos along the way:
Eduardo was telling us there were lots of vices in the cities in the olden days, so this cross was put up to remind people to be holy and to commit less sins… Apparently it didn’t work too well.
This bridge used to have one of the highest suicide rates in Madrid… In order to prevent that they put a barricade of some sort before you reach the edge of the bridge. Somehow that worked as people now have to climb twice (instead of once) just to jump, giving them more time to realize the importance of life…
Eduardo was telling us about Queen Isabella II here. It was a relatively detailed and long story… I also remember him mentioning of some way to get heavily discounted tickets to the Opera Theatre (building in the background).
The tour ended at the Royal Palace of Madrid. I should also mention that June 19 was the swearing in of Felipe VI as the new King of Spain, so there were some press and media (and a dissipating crowd, I think the event was over when we arrived) at the area.
We decided not the enter the Royal Palace as we had other plans (and the crowd was also quite discouraging). All in all, the tour with Eduardo was very informative and made us appreciate Madrid more! I’d highly recommend this tour as one of the ways to spend an afternoon in Madrid :)!
We then headed to the Madrid Rio. It was extremely sunny and hot when we went and we couldn’t fully appreciate the place without letting the weather affect us :(!
There was lots of people lying down on the grass around the Madrid Rio area suntanning or having picnics… :)! We had to leave the Madrid Rio shortly after as we had a hammam session booked at 8pm!
Before hammam though, we first needed to fill our stomachs…
This was super good! Mmmushrooms… :D.
I can’t remember if we headed back to our lodging or not, but I remember we basically spent the rest of the day walking… We soon arrived at Hammam Al Andalus for our 8pm session!
This time round, we opted for the traditional kessa (bath) in additional to the massage! We had seen it previously when we went for our hammam in Granada (and we requested for a change/upgrade but was told it wasn’t possible at that time) and have been looking forward to it since then! We both felt it was amazing! It was surprisingly relaxing despite having a scrub that was quite rough, and the way that water was poured out of the bowl onto us was very massage-like in itself!
After the hammam, we decided to grab dinner (the earlier meal was not filling enough) and then head back. Unfortunately, it started raining while we were still around the hammam area. It was also the first time we had encountered rain in this entire Spain trip, so I must say we have been very lucky :)! Nonetheless, we sought shelter in a clothings store, and Sheryl ended up buying a necklace and a top from the shop :P. Shopping in any weather, literally.
After the rain stopped, we made our way back to the Gran Via. I took a shot of what I thought was an awesome store display:
We headed to Cafe & Tapas once more. As mentioned in this post, we had tried a dish with 3 mini burgers. Of these 3, one was a wagyu beef burger, and another one was a really juicy chicken burger. Sheryl was determined to have the wagyu beef burger and I, the chicken burger, in their full sizes!
The burgers were really, really, really, really good! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a delicious chicken burger! We also ordered some smoothies that were very refreshing! Either way, Cafe & Tapas = good stuff.
It was around 11pm by the time we finished our meals, and we headed back to the lodging. We were heading to Toledo the next day, and have an early train to catch. At this time though, both of us wished that time would stop… Toledo would be the last city we were going to visit for this Spain trip, and also… The day before we left Spain back for Singapore. Everything up to this moment has been amazing for us, the different cities, experiences, adventure, shopping, all of it felt like a dream come true. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it earlier, but it was also the first time Sheryl and I have ever been to Europe, so leaving in two days’ time felt all the more sad… :(.
Anyway, that’s all for now!
Other parts in this series:
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 1 - June 8 to June 22
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 2 - Barcelona Day 1-2
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 3 - Barcelona Day 3
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 4 - Barcelona Day 4
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 5 - Barcelona Day 5, Cordoba Day 1
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 6 - Cordoba Day 2, Seville Day 1
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 7 - Seville Day 2
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 8 - Granada Day 1
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 9 - Granada Day 2
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 10 - Madrid Day 1
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 11 - Madrid Day 2
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 13 - Toledo Day Trip
- Travel: Spain 2014 | Part 14 - Last Day in Spain