Skooter reporting 05/30/12
Have you ever been to Spain? Well, I’ve been there once, and after a year perhaps, It’s time to break my piggy savings bank the same way I did five years ago and vuela I’ll be back in Madrid. Would you come with me?
Now, here is our tour plans in a year or two. The capital of Spain is full of life mix of old and new, with elegant tapas bars lining the historic Plaza Mayor and boutique stores all over the city acting as a counterpart to the antique wares found at Sunday’s mile-long El Rastro market. But just an hour train ride away, much of Madrileño culture remains unaffected by modernity. Step aboard the Renfe, Madrid’s train network, to enter the world of Antonio Machado, King Philip V and El Greco.
On our first excursion, I’ll take you to El Escorial – a place best for bygone royalty.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, or simply El Escorial, is a small mountain town 55km northwest of Madrid that radiates imperial wealth and provides a quick look into the lives of 16th-century Spanish royalty.
To reach El Escorial, Renfe has a sub-network of local trains, the Cercanias. These trains leave from Atocha, one of Mardrid’s two railway stations, and the journey to El Escorial will take us one hour and six minutes.
We’ll kick off the day with a 10 am tour of the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a citadel that once served as both a monastery and a royal palace at the same time. Inside the fort, I’ll show you around and bring you right to the one of the most famous rooms in Spanish royal history, the Pantheon of the Kings, where past rulers such as Philip V and Ferdinand VI are buried. You will notice that many of the tombs are occupied, others remain portentously vacant, waiting to be filled by current and future members of the royal family. From there, let’s go to the palace’s Regia Laurentina library and you will be amazed for its ceiling art, which rivals Italy’s Sistine Chapel, and the beautiful collection of tens of thousands of Arabic, Latin, and Spanish manuscripts, date back to the 15th Century.
After sauntering the palace grounds, let’s head down the mountain to the 18th-century Casita del Príncipe, a home built by one of the best-known architects of Spanish Neoclassicism, Juan de Villanueva. It was built for Charles IV, Prince of Asturias, when he was heir to the throne. The Casita del Príncipe and the gardens that surround the vast yard are perfectly manicured, giving lots of cool shade in the summer months.
Then we take a morning stroll through the Spanish countryside, heading over to La Cueva, an unperturbed restaurant that resonates de Villanueva’s chic architectural style. It is located just a short walk from the palace, the restaurant is a perfect spot to delve into a plate of prawn croquetas or Iberian chorizo (sausage).
Tomorrow our next stop is Segovia, known for Roman architecture. Hasta la vista, have a nice day, señoritos y señoritas.