Travel: Au Revoir Portugal!

I was finally fortunate enough to stay at my first hostel ever! (Since I was staying with my friend’s family while visiting her in Portugal). Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was the off-season, so I had a quiet relaxing day, and enjoyed the room to myself at night. This was probably for the better considering that I woke up a 3:00 AM this morning so I had time to walk the 15 minutes to the OPO Airport in time to catch a 6:30 AM flight.

So, Guess where I am? : P . . . MADRID!

I rendezvoused with my dear mother. While this may not sound optimal, considering the classic vision of a no-holds barred and party hard Euro Trip with close friends, I am both sad that I don’t have that opportunity, but grateful to be spending what could be my last quality moments with her. You see, since my school was on a completely different track than typical universities, Quarters versus Semesters respectively, I don’t have any friends that have the same availability as I do. Furthermore, as I was pursuing a graduate degree, those of my friends who streamlined into the working world have exactly that, work, with limited options or freedom to drop everything and disappear.

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I had planned to complete this trip on my own, and yet, it is nice to have some company. There would have been moments of loneliness and doubt, followed by meeting people from different countries and spontaneously finding bonds of friendship. Don’t you worry though! My mother leaves in 2.5 weeks, and my trip will revert to solo travel as I continue through my next few European nations.

Despite us both being incredibly tired, her because of the 6 hours time-difference, and me because I have the incapacity to sleep early, we managed to pack in our day!

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Palacio Real

Our first stop was the Palacio Real. After the 9th century Alcazar was destroyed in a fire in 1734, Felipe V, who was raised in Versailles, decided to replace it with a much grandeur structure. He never lived to see his vision however, since it was not completed or habitable until 1764. The palace’s exterior is not ostentatious, but is compensated for by the extravagance of the interior rooms.

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Unfortunately, I have limited pictures since most palaces and sites in Madrid do not allow you to take pictures. 😦

After completing the Palacio Real, we meandered back to the Plaza de Oriente to savor some coffee and a snack, and enjoy the fresh open air of the square. We were able to admire the central fountain, which includes a bronze equestrian statue of Felipe IV; it dates from 1640 and is reputedly the first ever bronze depiction of a rearing horse. It is said that Galileo assisted with the calculations to allow it to balance on the horse’s hind legs.

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Almudena Cathedral

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Plaza de Oriente

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then admired the Cathedral de La Almudena, and the splattering of gothic chapels encased within its neoclassical shell. This cathedral was in fact planned centuries ago, but suffered from a lack of funds and a Civil War bombing, so it did not actually open until 1993. The best part was the crypt, which features neo-Romanesque architecture, and more than 400 columns! Each bears its own unique capital.

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This is also the sight of the image of “Our Lady of Flor de Lis” It is one of the oldest images in Madrid having been commission by King Alfonso VI in 1083 AD.

The day was wrapped up by a relaxing stroll the Jardines de Sabatini, and quiet contemplation when gasping at awe at the ancient hieroglyphics that still lay carved on the interior walls of the Temple of Debod. (Unfortunately due to a lack of better preservation techniques, these images are gradually fading from existence).

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Sabatini Gardens

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Temple of Debod

 

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