Next morning, we admired the true beauty of our hostel, ‘Lunes de Baghdad’. Clear influence of Moroccan/Moorish mosaic tile work and greenery all around.
We left for breakfast, going through the narrow streets and admiring beautiful houses in those.
Before breakfast we went to the biggest mosque converted to a church in Cordoba. It was not very far from our hostel and we reached there promptly. It had a big courtyard with fountains and trees all around. A pleasant place with a lot of history. I could see that it was converted to a church since it had the architecture of a mosque. Of course it was a mosque for around 450 years under Moorish era.
When we went inside, we were greeted with arches of red and yellow stones. It was a mesmerising sight. We soaked up in the beauty of the place.
There was a small section inside being used as museum and had few artefacts from Egyptian and Islamic culture.
Cordoba was not in our plan and was just a night stop; but it turned out to be a great place and we discovered a great monument of Moorish architecture.
After visiting the church we had our typical late breakfast and headed straight to our next destination, Madrid.
We reached Madrid, after a 3 hours drive around noon. We went straight to ‘Santiago Bernabéu’, home of Real Madrid. Chirag wanted to see it from inside but Parikshit and I were not keen. So we decided to leave him there and took the car, asking him to reach ‘Plaza Mayor’ once he is finished with his tour.
Parikshit and I went to Palacio Real, Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Visitors can go inside the palace and see some parts of it. We went inside and spend few hours looking at the opulence of Spanish royal family, or whatever is left of it. The palace has a huge courtyard and big building with Almudena cathedral in front of it.
We took some pictures outside, as it wasn’t allowed in the palace. Palace was beautiful from inside with gold colour being the major colour used everywhere. It has many rooms with high ceilings and intricate design and decorations. The trip was worth it and we then went out to the cathedral. Cathedral itself was huge and had truly mesmerising details on the ceiling inside.
After a while we strolled towards Plaza Mayor, the main plaza in Madrid. It was the main market in 17th and 18th centuries. As the name suggests, it was a one of the biggest plazas that I had seen.
With buildings surrounding it and having a lot of open space it was a must see place. It had many restaurants serving various cuisines, street artists showing their talents and children running around having fun. We had some fun of our own with Spider Man.
We walked a bit around the plaza and looked around the different markets in the adjoining streets.
We returned to the plaza and started waiting for Chirag who had finished his Bernabéu tour. He met two lovely Dutch girls on Bernabéu tour and asked if they wanted to join us at Plaza Mayor for some drinks. They all came together to Plaza Mayor and we all had some snacks and drinks at one of the restaurants. Anook and Vivian were Dutch students who were also on a trip of Spain. Vivian was a photographer and I instantly liked her. Her photographs were amazing. We chatted for a while to know about them and had a few laughs. After some time the girls left and we probably would meet them later on the trip or may be not. We went back to Palacio Real on Chirag’s insistence, roamed a bit and clicked photos.
It was late evening and we decided to freshen up before it was dark and get ready for the nightlife of Madrid.
Nightlife in Madrid is happening. With ‘Gran Via’ as one of the main centre of all the activities, there were people in restaurants and cafés eating tapas. We also went to a Spanish bar to eat tapas. We ordered the known ‘patata bravas’ and few beers. It was quite a busy bar and people were just rushing to get their orders. It had all the hustle and bustle of a Spanish tapa bar. We moved to streets and saw few more bars, some from outside and some from inside.
We wanted some authentic bar experience so we moved to a lesser-known street and found one. It was a small bar and we could find a table to settle down. We ordered a jug of sangria, and finished it quite quickly. We felt that it wasn’t giving us the kick, so we asked the bartender to mix few shots of vodka into our second jug. And boy it bombed. We were quite tipsy after that. We sang few Hindi songs and joked around a lot. It was a fun filled night, which was supposed to get even more eventful.
As we were about to leave the bar, we found some local teenagers and asked them direction to our hostel. To our amazement, they were quite aggressive and started to argue with us over something. And there it was, our first Spanish bar fight. We had few scuffles exchanged and Chirag pulled me aside before I could throw some punches, Parikshit was quite drunk. But in the end no harm was done and we managed to get back to our hostel, although with a lot of effort. Needless to say, we crashed as soon as we reached our room.