Sunday, January 17, 2016

Madrid, Spain : Christmas festivities

Madrid the city is rather large, however most of the sites we wanted to see are located right in the center of the city. This street is called Grand Via street. It has the feel of NYC (I've never been but Alvie has). There are people everywhere. People are dressed up as mickey, Santa, ninja turtles, zombies you name it. But, it's not like Disneyland if you want a picture you're going to have to pay for it or they get pretty rude. 
There are also people trying to sell bootleg stuff all over the city, but it's illegal so they have all their stuff laid out on a white blanket that has a "leash" so they just swoop it up and walk looking like they've got a Santa pack on their back at a moments notice. It was pretty funny to watch as it happened.

  We stayed at Hotel Opera which was right on Gran Via. It was small but quaint and kept us right in the middle of the action. In the early mornings I could hear all the party people leaving the bars. The one thing we did have to learn is that just about every time you ask someone directions they point and say it's " cinco minutos." BUUUUUUT it's not. At. All. This is us walking 30 minutes down Grand Via street with all our suitcases, strollers and 3 kiddos. It was kinda hilarious and treacherous at the same time, mostly for Alvie.

  Our first day down in the city of Madrid we realized the big differences of Europe to America. They do not get up early, or really eat breakfast. This picture of us at breakfast (freezing mind you because it was about 10 Celsius) was about 8 am the sun was still not up, and didn't come up until about 9:30 am. This was the ONLY place on the entire street we could find that was open. Also, we thought we ordered breakfast but it was the dessert menu. The Spanish do not eat big breakfasts like we are used to, they rely on some coffee and a pastry.

 Spain, much like many of the places we visited in mainland Japan and Taiwan had great public transportation. The cabs there are really strict, not letting more than the designated amount of seats of people get in the car. SO, even though Henry was on my lap he counts as a person. I hid him under my jacket a few times and realllly made some Spanish men angry. HA ( We missed Bali for that little fact.) We got pretty good at riding the subways here, but remember that there are not many elevators so Alvie carried our stroller up and down stairs a lot.
The pictures below are of the church that resides right next to the Royal Palace. It was SO beautiful, and we loved the Nativity Scene.

The Spanish have a huge Catholic community and therefore being there for Christmas was beautiful and frustrating at the same time. Literally just about everything was closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. ( Praise you McDonalds!) We were able to step into a Catholic Christmas service and I was just blown away by how beautiful the structures and stained glass was. I didn't get any pictures because well.... people were singing and I already was sticking out just a tad.   It was good to feel "home" singing silent night, even in Spanish it still makes you feel the spirit and remind the kids of what Christmas is truly about. Stella has gotten so sweet about it. She says, " Christmas is about being with those you love, not about presents."

 ^^^ This was the entryway to the Church right in the middle of Gran Via street. This is where we went for the service.

The streets had lights up and down them with a huge Christmas Tree for celebrating. On Christmas Day we mostly hung out in the room in our Christmas jammies and let Stella take pictures of us on her new camera! 

 Next I will really get into the GOOD stuff about Madrid.
Check Here for The Royal Palace and El Retiro Park

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