Yesterday Tuuli and I went to explore Templo de Debod, or Temple of Debod in English, or Temple of Doom if you are an Indiana Jones fan. I’ve only ever been there once -during my first weekend in Madrid – so it was nice to go back now that the leaves are orange. We walked from Principle Pio station and I discovered that all the times I thought Google Maps was lying to me, I was really just reading it wrong. But thanks to Tuuli’s navigation skills, we managed to find it. On the walk there, we passed a group of people engaged in some sort of folk dance. It didn’t seem Spanish…I think it might have been Polish but I’m not sure. Anyway, they looked like they were having a great time!
The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple built in 200 BC that was a gift to Madrid from the Egyptian government. The original purpose of it was to worship the Egyptian goddess Isis but now it is just a monument that people can go inside to explore. Maybe people still use it to worship Isis, who knows. After walking past an old man leaning against a tree singing and playing guitar (every time I try to remember what he looked like, I keep imaging the picture Buddy had of his dad in Elf ), a Spanish hipster with a dog reading on the fountain ledge, and many other families and friends all strolling, we decided to go inside.
First of all, it was pretty crowded inside and the paths to walk are very narrow so it was more or less one way traffic. At one point, Tuuli and I tried to turn and walk up the stairs but this lady was blocking the way. We asked if she could let us pass – but she silenced us with a wave of her hand. We thought she was just a random rude woman but it turns out she was a rude woman who worked there. I guess we can excuse her – it must be pretty depressing to do traffic control inside a dark temple all day while the sun shines outside.
The roof of the temple is quite low but luckily neither Tuuli nor I were in danger of hitting our heads. It was a breath of fresh air (literally) to be back outside. I personally think the Temple is a perfect place to stage a haunted house…it is pretty creepy inside!
As we continued our way down to the Royal Palace, we commented on how much it still looked and felt like fall. Tuuli is from Finland, so she perfectly understands me when I say it doesn’t feel like Christmas yet. We passed a thermometer on a bus that said it was 21 degrees, but I don’t think it was an accurate description as it was standing directly in the sun. We both decided that we wanted to walk and see where our feet took us since Madrid is a city with lots of hidden streets. It’s rather amazing how the main street is so packed and loud, but as soon as you turn up a side street, it’s pleasantly quiet. It was on one of these side streets where we discovered a store having a liquidation sale – and where I bought a beautiful black skirt for just 3 euros! I showed the family when I got home and the mom and Leire loved it, but the dad said “No wonder it was 3 euros, they’re holes in it!” Haha, what a dad.
Eventually we ended up in the La Latina area which is bustling with young people and restaurants and cafes. Just a warning that you cannot walk down a street in Madrid without seeing at least one store with dead pigs hanging in the window. There is even a museum/shop dedicated to pork prepared this way (called Museo de Jamon). It’s very popular in Spain, in fact, we have some sitting in our kitchen right now. Definitely worth a try if you ever come to Madrid! (and are not a vegetarian).
Our feet were getting tired at this point, so we found a nice little bench with a lovely view at Real Basilica de San Francisco. At first there was no bench directly in the sun but we found a bench in a partly shaded area. As soon as the people occupying the sunny bench left however, we scurried over and claimed it as our own where we spent a good hour or so relaxing, talking, and admiring the view before us. I don’t know at what point in the day it happened, but at some point ‘Sorry’ got stuck in my head and I could not get it out. So I walked around Madrid singing Justin Bieber like the proud Canadian I am.
The sun went down as it tends to do and we caught a glimpse of the sunset shining through the buildings – though if you are looking for a really good view of the sunset, Temple of Debod is the place to be. (I checked instagram when I got home and can confirm that it was amazing from there).
Plaza Mayor was alive with street performers, including the very annoying squeaker who I see all the time, minions dressed like Santa, and a magician who was trying to be funny but really wasn’t. While we were in the square, the Christmas lights went on and everybody ‘oohed and ahhed’ appropriately. For dinner, we wanted to go to El Tigre because it’s $3 for a drink and unlimited food but sadly it was closed so we went to another place instead where everything is $1. I got fries, a little sandwich, and a sangria. At this time, the weather dropped considerably and I changed seats so that I was beside the outdoor heater but it didn’t really give off as much heat as it looked like it would. We were joined by Tuuli’s Finnish friends who are also aupairs and eventually the conversation turned to the Paris attacks because when you are sitting outside at a restaurant on a busy street, you can’t help but look uneasily around you and wonder. Eventually it got too cold, so we went to another bar where we could sit inside and the evening ended on a much lighter note as we sang the song “Vamos a la Playa” and I had fun licking the sugar off my glass of $1 Sangria.