[Day 11 +12] Relaxing like the locals in Madrid

I am combining day 11 and 12 because most of the days, I just hung out with my brother and sister-in-law. After our other brother’s family left, we just wanted some time to be lazy.

My brother and sister-in-law really wanted me to try this restaurant called Taberna El Sur so we headed there for dinner. This place was really small and I would recommend that you make reservation in advance. There are lots of bar seating if you are ok with that as well.

It was tapas style and we tried different things from the menu. We all got sangria first and ordered tapas like ropa vieja (braised flank steak) and carrillada (braised pork cheeks). They were so good. And the portions were good too. We ordered 4 tapas and it was enough for us.

After our filling meal, we walked to Plaza de Cibeles to see Cibeles Palace. I saw this place while driving by so I wanted a closer look. The building is all white but during the night time, they flashed different color strobes on it, making it look green, red, and more. We tried to go inside but they were closed.

TIP: I also did not realize how close this place was to Retiro Park. I would see this Palace first and head into Retiro Park for a half day tour.

And because it was the holidays, the streets were full of decorative lights. And by the Metropolis Building, they even had a giant Christmas Ornament. While walking back to Puerta del Sol, we saw several Christmas trees as well. It was really beautiful during the night time.

Our Sunday morning started with us visiting a church. We walked most of the way to church but on our way back, I got to ride the metro for the first time. The ticket was easy to use but we ended up getting off at the wrong stop and had to buy another ticket. They had pretty bad customer service.

We didn’t know what to eat for lunch and ended up at Tierra Burrito Bar and it was similar to Chipotle. But the portions were huge! They couldn’t even roll the burrito all the way, which was better for me šŸ™‚ I think this solved my craving for American food.

Afterwards, we headed to the Royal Palace of Madrid. I just wanted to see what it looked like. There were lots of street performers outside the Palace and many tourist and locals taking walks. It was pretty peaceful. I did not get to go inside since I did not have tickets but by the size of it, you would need to spend at least 3 hours to see the place.

I also got to see the Catedral de la Almudena and this was impressive. Even more so than the palace! The architecture was stunning. We couldn’t go in because it was too late but still amazing. I would recommend staying here and seeing the sunset. It would make a killer photo.

[Day 7] Walking around Seville

I wasn’t at my 100% yesterday but was starting to feel better. However, everyone else got sick and needed to take the day off. We all needed some food and what is better than your hometown food when you are sick. So we looked for a Korean restaurant and found one in the city. It was called Moon and we thought we would give it a try. We were hoping to get some guk, Korean style soup, but they only had spicy options. We ordered several warm dishes but they were a bit salty. Make sure you ask for less salt.

After the meal, everyone wanted to go back to the house and rest more. I wanted to walk around a bit, so we split up. I didn’t want to take too long myself so I just followed one road to the riverbed.

While walking, I saw the Plaza de Toros. It was smaller than I expected from the outside. The white and yellow really stood out. The Plaza was closed but there were carriages waiting for customers and it seemed like a known hangout place for the drivers.

And once you cross the street, you could see the river and Puente de Isabel II, one of the main bridges. The weather was so nice after the rain last night and there were several people relaxing here as well. I also sat by the water and just watched some people on kayaks, boats, paddle boards, cruises, and even rowing! It was winter but there were still a lot of people taking part in water sports.

Also, the houses across the water were so colorful and unique. I really liked that the cities in Spain had so much color to them. I walked along the river towards another bridge, Puente de San Telmo and there was a road made for biking and walking. The walk was very scenic and quiet and at the end of the road, you would see Torre del Oro. It really is a single tower by the water.

You could go up the tower but I think the view from the Cathedral’s Giralda would be much better. But I really liked how the tower wasn’t a square or a circle, but a dodecagon, 12 sided. It was a watch tower, a prison, and also an anchor point for chains in case invaders came with ships. This way, they could not get into the city on their ships. The history behind it was fascinating.

After the walk, I decided to head back home and rest. There were rows of gift shops on the streets and most of them had similar things including the Seville tiles. These ceramic tiles were just mesmerizing. The colors, the design, all of it. And it wasn’t in just gift shops. These tiles could be seen around the city in multiple architectures and they were just beautiful.

Once I was done shopping, I headed home, grabbed the family, and went to dinner. This time, we decided to try our other favorite food, Italian. We made reservation at La Piemontesa and tried to take it slow. I would highly recommend making reservation. It was packed when we arrived. We ordered pasta and it was really good. My brother said that it was one of the best Italian food he had so that said a lot. And the atmosphere here is really nice too. Quite romantic.

After our meal, we looked at some Christmas lights on the main street and my brothers goofed around on the motor scooter for a bit before heading home. We all hoped that tomorrow, we would all feel better.

[Day 6] Seville Cathedral and Plaza de EspaƱa

Today, we were going to spend the day explore two of the City’s main attractions: Catedral de Sevilla and Plaza de EspaƱa. We had purchased tickets online for the cathedral from the official website the night before.

TIP: Buy tickets in advance! Time slots sell out fast and you might have to stand in a long line to buy the ticket. If you buy them in advance, there is a separate line that is much faster.

When we arrived, the line for the regular ticket was already long but we were able to skip the line and head straight inside. While walking in, you can see all the details of the building and it will awe you. I mean, it is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and an UNESCO site. Everything here is grand.

When you first walk in, you enter into an art gallery. There are several Madonna and Child portraits and statues along with Crucifixion. There wasn’t any English description on the art pieces but I still enjoyed the artwork.

We didn’t get the audio guide for the Cathedral so we roamed around freely. Once you pass the art gallery, you are guided into the Cathedral. And wow! The ceiling are so tall and they had several chapels and tombs for famous people such as Christopher Columbus. There were so much to see

We walked around, saw several alters, more paintings, more tombs, and decided to walk up the bell tower, Giralda. First off, this was a walk. It’s all sloped and is about 34 floors high. I’m not sure how the tower’s numbering system worked but it goes up to #34. My brother said that we were almost there starting at 16 and I’m so thankful that he kept pushing me up because the view is breathtaking!

From the top of the tower, you can get a full view of the city in all directions. You might have to wait a little to see the view because it is a popular spot and a lot of people were taking pictures by the fences. And it was super windy and I saw a couple people chase after their hats so watch your belongings!

From a different angle, you could see the Cathedral and its orange tree courtyard. While looking at this, I couldn’t stop imaging what it would be like if we came during blossoming season. The orange blossom’s citrus fragrance would definitely reach the towers.

We were able to enjoy the views for about 15 minutes and the bells started to ring. At first, we were going to waited it out but they were really loud. 25 bells ringing in sync is not something your ears can handle. We decided to walk back down. This time, a bit slower and I was able to look out the windows and admire the architecture a bit more.

Once you are done with Giralda, you walk into the orange tree courtyard. There were several people enjoying the shade and relaxing. It was a nice pace to be at. It was also nice to see the bell tower from the bottom up this time. Different views, different perspective.

After leaving the Cathedral, we walked to Plaza de EspaƱa and this was a long walk. Longer than I expected. And once we arrived, according to Google map, we were met with a fence. It wasn’t the entrance. Or at least it was closed when we got there. We followed the road along the fence and found the entrance. Once you are inside, you forget about the walk you just had to take to get here. It is beautiful.

Every corner of this Plaza is picturesque. There were families resting on benches, children playing by the water fountain, couples taking a stroll. It was just peaceful. The architecture is also unique to the region and I really loved seeing all the arches.

And because we were visiting during off season, there weren’t a lot of tourist around. We were able to enjoy time here like locals and hung around the benches and just talked and relaxed. The fountain turned off and turned on so you have to time it right for pictures. Also, walk inside the building to see the wall decors and the arches!

After all the relaxing, we were getting hungry so we took an Uber back to the Cathedral area. There were several restaurants gathered here and we decided to eat at Bar la Catedral. We ordered some Sangria for the table and more tapas and of course, paella.

And it was a good thing we decided to sit inside because right after we ordered food, it started to pour. With the sound of rain drops, the small chitchats of the restaurant, the smell of all the delicious food, we really enjoyed the food. And by the time we finished paying for the food, the rain stopped and we were able to walk home and relax.