Aranjuez, Spain – November 9, 2011
We left our home and boarded the Metro Ligero (Light Metro) at about 08:00. We rode to the stop at Colonia Jardine, where we switched to the Blue 10 line. We rode that to the Tribunal stop and switched to the light blue 1 line. We rode that to the Atocha Renfe stop.
From the Metro, we made our way to the Cercanias train portion of the station. There I bought three round-trip tickets to Aranjuez. It amazed me that the tickets only cost 21€ (US$25). That is one of the best deals we have found in Spain! We rode that train to Aranjuez, arriving at about 10:00.
Although there were a few taxis at the Aranjuez train station, we opted to walk the one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) into town. As with any trip, the first order of business was to find a cafe for coffee and to use the aseos (toilets). We stumbled upon the indoor market. There was a small coffee kiosk in there, but we decided to find an outdoor cafe.
We walked out of the market and into Constitution Square. There was another small coffee shop, but all the tables were full. In the square, there was a band playing. There were also campaign banners all over as this is the beginning of Spain’s abridged election season. I spotted a cafe across the street; however, on closer inspection, we decided not to stop. We went back to the square, thinking we could get a coffee and sit on a bench in the square. When I went inside, the place was packed. So, we took off on foot again.
We turned back north on Calle Almibar. In about a half-block, we found the Meson Frankfurt. They did not have any tables outside, so we went in. After using the restroom, having two cafes con leche, one cafe americano, a croissant, a bacon montadito (a type of sandwich), and a lomo montadito, we all left with smiles on our faces. One reason for the smiles was the fact Leslie and Tyler had tried their hand at the slot machine inside Meson Franfut. I think each won about 20 centimos, but a win is a win!
From the café, we made our way to the tourist information office. It is at the southeast corner of San Antonio Square. We obtained a tourist map of the area. Leaving the tourist information office, we walked to the Venus fountain at the north end of the square. From there we crossed the street to the east entrance to the Royal Gardens of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).
The gardens are adjacent to the Rio Tagus, a small river that flows through many parts of Spain. There were several waterfowl on the river. We continued through the gardens to the portion that is on an island. Like so many other palaces in Spain, there are numerous fountains in the gardens. Unfortunately, our timing has always been such that we have never seen any of the fountains at any of the palaces in operation. Regardless, they are still amazing and worth seeing.
After the 3.5-kilometer (two-mile) mark, we found a sidewalk cafe near the palace. We stopped to have a glass of wine and relax. We thought that might deaden some of the pain. From there it was a short walk to the entrance of the palace. The tickets were 9€ (US$11) per adult for the self-guided tour. We paid another 4€ (US$4.90) for one audio set, and we began our visit.
The tour path winds through some two dozen rooms of the palace. They are all fascinating in their way. The two places that stood out the most to Leslie and I were the Arab room, patterned after a room at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and the porcelain room. Unfortunately, the palace does not allow photographs inside. Regardless, if one is interested, the history of the palace and some pictures can be found at the Patrimonio Nacional website.
The material in the Arab Room is a sculpted and painted plaster, built between 1848 and 1850. The colors are myriad and breathtaking. The detail is amazing. It is so difficult to describe, but so worth the trip to view the room. The below photograph of the Arab Room is from the Patrimonio Nacional website. Click on the hotlink above to visit that site.
In the time of Charles III of Spain, 1716 – 1788, the Porcelain Room was faced with multiple pieces of Chinese porcelain. There are all sorts of flowers, animals, and people figurines in porcelain attached to the walls. There are also several; I believe seven, large mirrors on the walls in the room. Lastly, the chandelier is spectacular too because it is also a porcelain piece. The following photograph of the Porcelain Room is from the Patrimonio Nacional website. Click on the hotlink above to visit that site.
After finishing our tour, we walked from the palace across Paris Square to the Restaurante Rincon de Godoy. There we had a wonderful lunch for just over 45€ (US$55) for the three of us. We ordered a carafe of red wine to go with our lunch. Shortly after bringing the wine, the waiter brought some fresh bread. A little later, he brought three small slices of bread. Each one had cream cheese and smoked salmon. They tasted great! For the first plate, Leslie had a type of chicken soup, Tyler had Sopa Castellana (Spanish soup), and I had Consume de Jerez. It was a consume into which they poured a little bit of clear Sherry from the town of Jerez. We all enjoyed our soups.
The main plates were chicken, with potatoes and a side-salad for Leslie and Tyler, while I had a plate of very thinly sliced, roasted beef with sliced potatoes. Instead of dessert, we all opted for coffee to hopefully keep us awake on our walk back to the train station.
We got back on the train shortly after 16:00. By 18:00, we were all home; sore, but home.