December 21 in Madrid, Spain. Four days to go before the most awaited day of the year. Where shall I go in this city, almost all expanse of which I am hardly familiar with?
Actually, the group has decided to spend the last few hours before Christmas Eve at Plaza Puerta del Sol’s Museo del Jamon.
We were looking to imitate what the Spaniards do at the Museo – standing with one hand holding jamon bocadillo and the other a glass of wine or beer, dining with friends while having animated conversations and laughs – seriously, but all in good nature, of course.
I agree that the 24th is strictly for merry-making and bonding among buddies; with me not doing any excessive sightseeing or photo-taking that would otherwise weigh down my Yuletide-moded amigos.
Off to Plaza Puerta del Sol
With this plan already set, I decided to proceed with my other plan tonight, which is to go to Puerta del Sol
Arguably Madrid’s most exciting tourist site, the plaza I thought should be toured in solitude. I am ready to lose my way through the plaza’s main streets, and perhaps even the confusing networks of alleys and inner streets.
Traveling alone helps me explore to the optimum, what with nary a single human distraction that being in a group often brings about.
On the other hand, touring in a group means different minds ready to oppose your own plans and agenda and push their own. You travel with even just one companion, and your well-laid plan most likely goes all for naught.
I also needed great photos, lots of it that I can post here. And I’m doing it now as I know I won’t be able to on the 24th.
With a bunch in tow, most will be content on dining at the Museo and afterwards go to a nearby cafeteria for a round (two for some) of warm Americano or con leche.
Missing La Violeta
Another reason why I wanted to go to Sol is to see La Violeta, a popular candy shop that sells unique confectioneries.
We just received a box of its lavender sugared candies, and so I thought that it’s a sign for me to write a piece on the establishment, or at least make a mention in one of my posts (done here).
I find it to be really nice in taste. Hence, I just cannot make any sense of others commenting on it as weird. To be frank, I’m happy to have relished La Violeta, it being considered as a well-loved status symbol.
Referring to an online map, I learned that it was located beyond Calle Major, further down Carrera San Jeronimo.
However, I wasn’t one with a sane sense of direction. In other words, I went the opposite way and reached Cathedral Nuestra Senora de Almudena instead.
I will see you next time, La Violeta.
The mistake turned out to be a blessing because I found out that the church has a 6PM mass schedule.
I was already late, however, because I got there at 6:15. By this time, the offertory part was more than halfway finished. I attended the mass anyway and promised to be on time next Sunday.
Many evening masses in Madrid begin at 7PM, some as late as 8:30. San Antonio in Murillo starts at 7:30. I guess I’ll be attending at Almudena Cathedral for the next couple of months, now that evenings these days have turned extremely cold.
Lo and behold, the tree at Puerta del Sol
Mass finished at exactly 6:47PM, and after taking a photo of the Cathedral, I proceeded back to the Plaza to finally see the Christmas tree. I haven’t seen it lighted before so I expected to see a spectacle.
And a breathtaking spectacle I did witness!
Radiant in bright yellow-colored lights, the gargantuan tree was a sight that’s unrivaled in all of the plaza. It was devoid of colorful lighting decors or fancy trimmings, but its imposing height and steady golden luminescence was more than enough to captivate anyone.
Street performers are usual fixtures at the plaza. This time, however, the themes of their acts are appropriate to the season, with many dressed up as Santa Claus, elves, Christmas trees, and cheery cartoon characters.
Vendors of lottery tickets, barquillos, bootleg bags, shirts, and CDs, Christmas decors, fireworks also litter the place.
Speaking of lottery, I don’t know exactly how the sweepstakes work here, so I refrained from buying the Navidad ticket (the draw was December 22). Besides, I can’t afford to pay 20 Euro needed to secure a single ticket.
Albeit, I am already a regular of Euromilliones lottery, the play of which I am more familiar with. It is also cheaper, costing me only 2 euro every Tuesday and Friday.
I then proceeded to Plaza Mayor, and upon entering, was easily awed by numerous Christmas lights that adorn the square. I thought that everything inside was magical and ready to enthrall everyone in time for the Yuletide season.
A major highlight of the place was the glass display showing miniature scenes that serve to narrate the Nativity, or events leading to the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Check out these beautiful scenes from PLaza Mayor. Feliz Navidad!
Merry Christmas everyone, from Let’s talk Madrid!