We love spending time in Madrid. We could have stayed a lot longer to explore all of the enchanting side streets and tiny eateries, but ultimately, we decided to mix it up a little bit this trip and head North to the town of Zaragoza after our two days in Madrid.
After swinging by the Citroen leasing office to pick up our car for the next three months, we scooted up the 3 hours to Zaragoza. We arrived around noon on a Saturday. Our AirBnB was smack dab in the middle of the city, to say the area was a mad house would have been an understatement. I tried my best to keep up with the rapid GPS directions guiding us in and out of round-a-bouts, side streets and smaller side streets that resembled more sidewalk than street. After coming inches away from hitting a car and nearly getting the tiny C3 stuck on a sharp right-hand turn, we found some parking and arrived at our AirBnB.
We regrouped for a bit and headed out to explore the town. After walking only a few blocks in Zaragoza it is apparent that this city really values art in some nontraditional ways. Many blank walls in the city are covered in colorful graffiti murals painted by extremely talented artists. The rollup walls on the closed shops, temporary construction walls and alleyways are where the artists have honed their skills. It appears that instead of spending countless euros trying to erase graffiti, the city has embraced the art, giving Zaragoza a bright and vibrant feel.
Since we were staying very near the Basilica de Nuestra Senor del Pilar we headed there first. We were graced with about two blocks of nice weather before the sky opened up and just poured and poured and poured. It rained so hard that we changed up our plans and took cover in the Goya museum, which turned out to be a great little museum.
The Goya museum featured four floors of art from Francisco de Goya and a very impressive collection of the print etchings that he did. These smaller, local museums are a great way to pass time for cheap, kids often receive free admission and adults were around 4 euro. We passed an hour or two in the museum, waiting out the weather, which, instead of subsiding, had turned into a solid sheet of water threatening to flood the whole city.
We were on vacation and hungry, so weather be damned we headed out anyways and braved the rain. After a small meal of some local variety of tapas, we set off for the Basilica again. By now the rain had let up some, but was still coming down hard off and on. We made it in to the Basilica just as a service was wrapping up, hearing the last song of the and choir and organs. While the Basilica is very beautiful on the inside, featuring Frescos painted by Goya himself, the real beauty of the Basilica is its tower architecture, and to see that, we must endure the rain. We took in the views for as long as we would handle the rain and then retreated to our AirBnB to dry off.
The rain had finally passed, Real Madrid was playing in the Champions League Finals against Liverpool so we left our flat in search of a place to watch some futbol, but the city was surprisingly quite for such a big game night. Real Madrid ended up winning but to our dismay, no one was in the streets partying or celebrating, the night was actually very calm and peaceful. The Basilica is lit up at night and the weather was clear, so we spent some time admiring the architecture without the rain, we were even treated to an opera performance piece in the square.
The next day brought with it clear skies, our first clear morning since arriving 3 days earlier. Jez had seen a small coffee shop with a cycling theme called La Cicleria that she wanted to check out, so that’s how the day started. We knew we had a few hours drive ahead of us to make our check-in time at Rodellar so we ate/drank and ran over the really quirky and neat museum that I had read about online; The EMOZ - la Escuela-Museo de Origami de Zaragoza (the Origami Museum and school of Zaragoza).
Over the span of 6 or 7 rooms, the Museum outlined and visually displayed the history of Origami, starting from its humble beginnings as napkin folding and letter delivery purposes continuing all the way up to modern times of an ancient practice that has now divided into many different genres, all involving hundreds/thousands of folds resulting in impressive museum worthy sculptures. By far one of the cooler exhibits that museums I have ever been to, if you find yourself in Zaragoza, don’t miss it!
All of this city hoping has been fun, but Zaragoza marked our last stop before heading up into the Pyrenees to start what this trip is all about, Climbing! These blog updates have been slow as of late because of the amount of climbing we have been doing the last few weeks, even rest days are filled with lots of hiking and exploring. Jez has been doing an awesome job keeping our Instagram updated with daily activities though, so follow on there for more day to day updates.