Kings and Kebabs

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Day 6: Madrid, Spain
Good morning Madrid! We awoke this morning in our lovely hotel room at the Suite’s Viena and found that once again we had slept later than we thought we would have. How is it possible that we would hate it yet we could both wake up before 6am and start our day and now before 9 seems like an impossible feat? Holidays right?! Well, anyway, we ate our new favorite breakfast of oatmeal and peanut butter as we have a microwave in the room it was really easy and we had kept some of the utensils from one of the salads we had eaten in Barcelona so it made breakfast completely simple. We were well fed and showered and set out for today’s adventures which began with the Palacia Real or for the non-Spanish speakers among us…the Royal Palace. Apparently the present ruler does not live there but lives about 10 kilometers away but this is still used for all of the state dinners and affairs and such as tomorrow apparently the leader of Bolivia will be dining in the room we stood in today; pretty neat, don’t you think? Well, as we waited on line in this beautiful entry way we found our friendly accordion player from yesterday had his new spot near us again so we plopped some coins in his bag as we listened to his wonderful music as we waited. Once inside we settled on the guided ticket which included the armory and pharmacy and waited for our guide.
We had a small tour of about 10 people and a guide who had just finished university in New Mexico and spoke really well. He took us on the tour of this palace through rooms adorned in gold, silver, marble, crystal and tapestries and paintings as far as the eye could see. There were statues, sculptures, chandeliers and other million dollar drapings everywhere and ornate clocks and furniture everywhere. Some of the people on the tour were very interested in art and kept asking questions about the painters and the paintings and such. Many of the rooms including the one that was designed to impress people specifically where the king would entertain looked as if they came out of a movie. So many things and money and power shown everywhere that if you melted it all down it could easily change the lives of people living in at least 5 third world countries. The room that was supposed to impress people actually did but for anyone who’s seen the Harry Potter movies and can picture the tent at the Quidditch world cup in the start of the fourth movie and Harry’s “I love magic” reaction; well, that’s pretty much what we felt like but there was no movie or wizard magic. The dining room which will be used tomorrow can actually seat 150 people at one long table and the Spanish royalty sit at chairs that are just set slightly higher than everyone else which is kind of interesting. Actually, we both thought that one of the coolest rooms was one that had the Strataveri collection. Apparently it’s the only one like it and there’s an extra piece in there as well and they are all designed on the outside by the artist himself. Now that was cool; probably not as cool as my brother would think if it was a room filled with guitars signed by Les Paul but still that one pretty much blew us away. Anyway, we finished with the tour and went onto the palace grounds through the armory which for anyone who’s seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks picture the warehouse where all of battle uniforms come to life and that is where we were today; and then we went through the pharmacy where the king housed and created many medicines and powders which completely looked like the Potions room in the first Harry Potter Movie. We finished the tour as usual in the gift shop and decided it was time for lunch.
We headed towards the Puerta del Sol a major shopping area and one where my mom said she had seen a Vegetarian restaurant on a blog so we gave it a shot. Well, the restaurant was uber expensive so we ditched that one and had a wander through the fun streets of Madrid. We ate at Café y Te which seems to be a sandwhich plus shop around here and had a tasty lunch of traditional Spanish sandwiches. We continued walking on Calle de Alcala towards the Puerta de Alcala which stands at an intersection in the city and looks quite similar to the Arc Du Triumph in Paris so we stopped and took some photos there (like that’s a surprise). Tried out the self-timer on the new camera-was a little blurry as I wobbled the camera when I put it back but a nice feature that is there anyway. We walked back up Gran Via (the major shopping street if you’ll remember from yesterday) and ran into a store as it had started raining for a few minutes. It’s funny, the sky darkens for a few minutes; then they open up for about 10 and then it’s over. Not a bad way to rain that’s for sure! We headed back to the hotel to what I say is to help contribute to the Spanish culture of siesta {Mat note: she was completely exhausted and needed a nap}, well, either way that’s what we did (and to think I even started taking my vitamins again this morning). After about an hour or so we were rejuvenated enough to head out to dinner up Gran Via again. There was some thought about a last ditch effort for Paella for one last night but we decided against it and hit a kebab shop that rarely disappoints. Although out of falafel for the evening we had a delicious dinner that was quite low in carbs and was under 20 Euro which was another great feat as the Paella place that the reception desk girl would have sent us to was 20 Euro each just for the Paella. Anyway, we finished our dinner and had a nice walk back to the hotel with a stop at Starbucks for some cookies one last time and headed back to the hotel for the night. Some television and internet to help us wind down for the evening and a chance to upload some photos and chat to some friends and a rest for the last night in Spain. Adios mi amiga…manana el aeropuerto y entonces a Berlin!
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