After Valencia, we were on our way to Madrid. On the way to Madrid, we stopped by Cuenca, a little town that has been marked as a UNESCO world heritage site.
We walked uphill which was a fantastic mini-hiking workout to burn off our buffet breakfasts, and we also walked across the St.Paul Bridge. We saw monuments, such as the Cuenca Cathedral which is Gothic and Baroque styled. The views are stunning from above, and the Hanging houses are really admirable. I just wonder how they built so many buildings right on the cliff!
It’s not a very big city, but it has very quaint vibes. I also really liked the fact that at that time, there weren’t a lot of tourists, or in Spain throughout out trip for that matter. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was winter, but I was habituated to crowded Rome and Paris on previous trips.
Lunch was a very simple, warm-hearted provincial kind of meal. There was the option of a beef or fish stew with potatoes. The fish had way too many bones for it to be enjoyable, but the beef one was excellent. The warm stew did the trick to warm our bones, after all the walking in cold weather.
We then proceeded to Madrid. This was around the late afternoon, so we just visited the Royal palace of Madrid.
Pretty, but I wouldn’t say extraordinarily beautiful. It was the first palace that I ever visited, and the interior is quite impressive (there was one room where it had a dining table for 20 something guests). I presume Versailles or the palace in St. Petersberg would have more grandeur. Also, to this day, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany remains my favourite castle (I know, castles and palaces are different yadayada).
Also, a note on PICK POCKETERS! Yes, we were warned numerous times about the severity of pick pocketers in Spain, and they have been notoriously named as ‘professional pick pocketers’ who may dress up as police, or commit their act against an innocent person in the public RESTROOMS. Our tour guide was giving us a tour around the palace with our headsets, and our tour group noticed some suspicious, shady guy wearing a coat and hat, coming close to other tour members and followed us along.. But I think he became afraid of a pack of Asians staring at him so he eventually left.. I saw him in the gift shop again. Up to no good? Fortunately, my family and I had no pick pocket incidents in Spain as we were ultra careful. Try your best to bring minimal things outside, especially big backpacks and handbags. You wouldn’t want to risk it because they can be ultra swift, you wouldn’t even notice.
After that, we had dinner at Hard rock cafe. It was nice, but I still don’t quite comprehend what the big deal about Hard rock cafe is?
The night life in Madrid actually looked a bit more impressive than Barcelona, but it was at least three times more packed. I felt rather quite claustrophobic, moving amongst a sea of people. Also, the streets of Madrid seemed to be a little dirtier than Barcelona. The lights (no pictures though) put up for Christmas were stunning, and I would’ve loved to have gone for a stroll at night! Oh and don’t forget the inevitable shopping 🙂
Next: More on Madrid & Toledo