When I was planning my route to go from Tangier to Lisbon, I didn’t like the price of the flight at the time which was almost $200 USD. It seems like every time I plan a trip, I always look at where else I can go near the place. I figure that since I’m already there, why not see as much as I can of this beautiful world? My curiosity led me to discover Ryanair with a flight from Tangier to Madrid for, get this, only $33 USD! 🙌 How could this be? I guess it was more of my curiosity that led me to buy the ticket because I swear, I couldn’t believe it. So after taxes and my check-in luggage, the entire flight would cost me $70.68 USD!!! This is one of the reasons that I wish I lived in Europe as airfare from city to city, country to country, can be so much less than in the U.S. Plus, you can take a train from country to country, too. But I digress. Although I have been to Madrid already, it was many moons ago. I thought it was worth the adventure (or maybe it was to confirm the Ryanair price that I wasn’t hallucinating) to take a detour to Madrid before arriving in Lisbon.
When I landed, it was cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain. Yes, it did rain. And rained and rained. It was damn cold, too. I had to buy a coat which was so, so stupid since I live in Chicago and own many coats. At least I brought an umbrella, I thought. Luckily, my hotel was on Gran Via, a very lively street with lots and lots of shopping. So I walked in the rain, in the cold, but I was very happy that I was being rained on in Madrid. After buying a coat I was still chilled to the bone, and although I was in Spain I didn’t want tapas. I wanted a hot bowl of soup instead. I found a Japanese restaurant near my hotel to have udon noodle soup, and although it wasn’t very good, I was, again, so glad that I was in Madrid! Somehow the mundane isn’t so mundane when you’re in another continent, in another country, in another city, and experiencing a new adventure.
Since it was still raining the next day when I woke up, the natural thing for me to do was to go to the Prado Museum. I so love museums! I was there before many years ago but nothing seemed familiar including the building itself. Besides, the architecture is not iconic like The Louvre or the Rijksmuseum so it was easier to forget, perhaps. For some reason I recall Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas from my college days as being one of THE highlights of the museum, but nothing resonated with me that day more than Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights. I don’t know what it is about seeing such an iconic work of art in person after years and years of reading about it and seeing it in books or online, but the experience truly moves me each and every time. Just seeing that one piece of art was worth the detour, especially since my flight was so ridiculously cheap!
It was still chilly with only a few intermittent drops of rain when I got out of the museum. The dreary weather affected my mood that day, and I just wanted to stay in my room under the covers. Of course, I couldn’t do that. I was in Madrid! So what else could I do to cheer me up other than go shopping? Two scarves, two pairs of shoes, two pieces of luggage, and a buttery soft leather jacket brightened my mood, all bought along the street of Calle de Serrano. Everything is SO inexpensive in Spain compared to the U.S. so I LOVE shopping there so much! ❤️
Because I had another flight to catch in the morning (and it was still raining and cold) I just grabbed a seat at the bar at Mercado de la Reina that was attached to my hotel. I started with their sangria (oh, so delicious!) and ordered grilled asparagus, grilled shrimp, and grilled octopus. Potatoes, too, of course. I should have had this the prior night, I thought, although I wondered about their olives. They were the normal green color, and I SO missed the yellow ones that I had in Granada only about a week prior overlooking The Alhambra while the sun was setting. As I write this, I realize that travel has ruined me. When I see olives from now on, I will always think of the yellow ones from Granada. When I see pistachios, each and EVERY time I think of the ones from Turkey–double roasted twice and dipped in rose water! Green tea ice cream? Forget about it. I cannot have it here in the U.S. as I had the most delicious taste of it in Seoul. I could go on and on…
After I couldn’t eat or drink anymore I walked a few steps to my lovely hotel room. The room was a bit loud for deep sleeping because it was on Gran Via, such a lively and fun street, but how could I complain? I was the luckiest person on the planet as my flight to Lisbon awaited me in the morning. ✈️