Standing in the Center of Spain

I stood on the center of Spain, smiling. I pictured myself on a map, at the zero kilometer mark, this is so cool. I was in Madrid, Spain, visiting for a few days in March. Street performers were everywhere, spray painted, dressed up in odd attire, showing off their skills in hopes for some profit. Some of them baffled my mind- one of them was suspended in the air, as if they were floating.

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Others were dressed up in confetti-like costumes, with a deer head sticking out (how do they think of these things?)

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Madrid is full of beautiful architecture, years of history within arms reach. We visited Plaza Mayor as well, which has a large statue of Felipe III riding a horse in the center of it. I learned that when the statue was first made, the horses mouth was open. Birds used to fly into it and would not be able to get out, so they would die inside. After 200 years of this bird-eating statue, the statue started to smell terrible (could you imagine- 200 years of dead birds piled up in a statue that probably reached extreme temperatures in the summer?!). There are many different scenarios as to how they found out the birds were inside (I’ve heard it fell over, someone hit it with a firecracker, they just moved the statue and found the birds…anyone know what actually happened?). But regardless, hundreds of 200 year old bird carcasses were exposed. They replaced the statue with a horse with a closed mouth.

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Also nearby is the Mercado de San Miguel (San Miguel Market), a large glass market with amazing types of tapas and wine, among many other things. I tried gulas- it used to be shredded eel but it got too expensive to make, so instead it’s imitation eel with a shrimp on top, all on top of bread. My goodness, it was delicious.

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I also had a fried cheese croqueta, which was also delicious.

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I also tried cuttlefish and sea urchin, again, delicious (Madrid did not disappoint with the food). The sea urchin actually tasted like ocean water and sand, but was really good- and I am the type of person to swim around with their mouth sealed tight at the beach because I hate the taste of sea water, so trust me that it was great.

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We then grabbed a few items at a local grocery store. Grocery shopping is so much fun in foreign countries, and often I prefer it to going out to eat- you save money and are much more likely to meet the locals. It is nice to go out to eat once and a while, though!

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We headed over to Parque del Retiro, where there is the Puerta Del Angel Caido, the Fallen Angel Gate. Located here is the only public statue of the devil in the world– it is also located 666m above sea level, and is on a fountain with gargoyles surrounding it. This statue is a very controversial monument in Spain. The park is lovely, with statues, fountains, and ponds throughout it. People were skateboarding, running, walking, and biking. There are rows of gorgeous trees, with a lot of seating areas. It is one of the largest parks in Madrid and is definitely worth checking out!

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