Saturday, 21 May 2016

Madrid: Palace, Bullfighting, Flamenco Dancing

Our adventures in Madrid today brought us to the El Escorial, a quadrangle which includes a monastery, a royal palace, a church, a school and a library.

Completed in 1584, the El Escorial, was only an hour's bus/train ride away from Madrid's city centre. For the sake of convenience, we took the bus from bus 661 from Moncloa which costs 4.20 one way. You can also take the bus 664 as well which leaves from the same location (Isla 1, Gate 11) within Moncloa bus station.

Entrance to the gardens were free of charge but to enter the palace itself it was 5 euros for students under 25 and 10 for adults!

The gardens itself was beautiful though.

Purple trees!

With a grandiose mountaneous backdrop.

And the bright Spanish sun (which rarely ever visits Ireland).

We stopped by a local restaurant, La Terraza, just opposite the El Escorial for some freshly squeezed orange juice which also came with some complimentary olives.

We got their mixta paella which has a mixture of seafood and chicken as well to fill our stomachs. The rice was slightly under cooked but the seafood was good. After all that we headed back home to rest for a short while before our crazy ass plans for the night.

We headed to La Plaza de Toros Las Ventas which is the biggest bullfighting stadium in Spain. Originally we had not planned to watch a bullfight because I wasn't too keen on watching an animal get tortured, but, as something to get checked off the list, we decided to pay a last minute visit to the show.

We brought our own munchies to the stadium itself - camembert cheese, slices of Spanish jamon (ham), nachos with some guacamole. We sat down on our cement block of a chair and watched the show. We were surrounded by the die hard core fans of bullfighting who were mostly middle-aged and slightly older local Spaniard men. In contrast to my picture which I took before the show, there was actually no seat left. It was sold out.

The show consisted of 7 bulls who were going to be killed and different matadors for each. Each bull performance took around 20 minutes and personally it was rather difficult to watch each bull get tortured. After three bulls, we left the stadium and I was actually rather shocked at the amount of support and fans the activity still had. 

I guess I understand it's part of their history, culture and tradition but I don't feel that that justifies the slaughtering of seven bulls within 2-3 hours.

After that, we rushed over to La Taberna Flamenca 'El Cortijo' ! We bought a 30 euro ticket which allowed us to get an hour of flamenco lessons, dinner, and a Flamenco performance by actual professionals! 

Starter - Macaroni cooked in a seafood paella style

Main: Fish with a tomato-based sauce and roast potatoes

Dessert:- Creme Caramel with chocolate sauce

The performers were insane and the guitarists skills were off the roof.

Not to forget the tremendous flamenco dancing. I would totally recommend this taberna for anyone who'd like to have an intimate session of flamenca dancing. Even though it's not in the city centre, its price is really reasonable and the performance was very impressive.

Unfortunately due to an error in the Viator booking system, it showed that the package was to start at 9pm but actually it was 8pm. So we both unfortunately missed the flamenco dance class which I was really looking forward to. I guess that's just another reason to come back to Madrid

Next up: last day in Madrid

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