Basilica, Royal Palace, National Library

Friday our plans were to check out the San Francisco el Grande Basilica and the Royal Palace of Madrid.

On our way we stopped for breakfast at this nearby cafe, where I had a lovely cafe au lait. I had also ordered a ham and cheese on a croissant but wasn’t very hungry. Luckily I had a trusty ziplock bag and saved 2/3’s of the sandwich for later.

The Basilica was really pretty, and it was kind of nice to get there just as it opened. There was a sign that said no pictures, but as I tried to sneak one in, a passing guard was like go ahead! kind of like the conductor on the train from Toledo.

I sort of can’t remember the Royal Palace. Mostly I remember the outside where a couple of accordion players played continuously (Italian songs mostly, and the theme from The Godfather), and how two little girls tried to climb onto the ledge of an exterior window until a far-off guard blew his whistle at them and one climbed down with her hands up.

We also passed through the Sabatini Gardens, where we kept hearing these birds squawking. YP joked that it was a toucan, and then a couple of minutes later I saw three green parrots fly overhead. It turns out Madrid is overrun with wild raccoons and parrots. Who knew.

Our next stop was the Alumenda Cathedral beside the Royal Palace. We weren’t sure what it was. All we knew was that we could go to the top, which we did and saw a lovely view and these really cool statues:

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

That was almost better than the Royal Palace.

Next were nun cookies. Let me explain: apparently there are these cloistered nuns who make cookies and other sweets. The nuns are somewhat hard to find, and we thought it would be fun to try and find them and also to bring back the nun cookies for our co-workers.

The convent wasn’t too hard to find. We overshot the alleyway, but quickly found our way back. We had a little trouble finding the door, but luckily the blog post I linked to above had a picture of it. I took one too. Then — d’oh! We discovered the place was closed and cookies and sweets wouldn’t be available again until September:

  A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

No nun cookies for us. Another good thing was that nearby there was the Mercado Market, where we had a variety of food:

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

  A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

That night we went off and did our own thing again. YP went clothes shopping and I checked out the National Library.

Unfortunately the library was closed by the time I got there. The website said it was open until 9 but it actually closed at 8. I got there right before 8 so at least I could go inside the gate and look at the exterior, even if I couldn’t go in the building.

I met one of the resident library cats.

I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t want to go straight back to the apartment so I walked some more. I wandered down this street that kind of like Fifth Avenue, ie, lots of high-end stores that I would never buy stuff from.

For dinner, I stopped at a grocery store near the apartment and picked up salami, cheese, and a baguette. It was a bit too salty but still delicious.

Tomorrow’s agenda: get YP a matador outfit! Stay tuned…

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