23 April 2019: El Escorial
The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial aka Monasterio y Sitio de El Escorial is located a shy hour away from Madrid. It is most known for the Monastery that used to be an official residence of the King of Spain. The Monastery was built between 1563 and 1584. It is the masterpiece of the Spanish architect Juan de Herrera, after whom the Herrerian style, a sub-style in the Spanish Renaissance, was named. The building is a sober building made of a granite, and it is the burial place of most of the Spanish kings and queens. Some urban legends say that it was based off the descriptions of the Temple of Solomon.
We drove in around 9:00, dropped off the luggage, and went out, as we had tickets for 10:00 – although the hotel did not want to let us in. Contrary to the nice weather that we had been enjoying, it was cold as hell. The whole town felt grey and sober, and the cloudiness helped the mood – we had breakfast at a nearby bar (the only one open) and headed off to the monastery. The building hosts many artworks, along with a chapel, the royal pantheon and the most amazing library ever. Pictures in the inner areas are forbidden, unfortunately. The Monastery is a Unesco World Heritage site.
At lunchtime we walked out of the Monastery and headed off to the Royal Carriage House / Cocheras del Rey, a museum / restaurant. We had lunch, then visited the museum as the entry was free with lunch. It was raining like mad by then so we headed to the hotel to finalise the check in.
After an hour or so the rain had stopped so we decided to walk to the Prince’s House and Parks / Parque y jardines de la Casita del Príncipe. By the time we arrived it had started raining again – pictures were not allowed inside of the house either, but OMG was the inside Baroque, with flashy wallpapers.
On the way back, we could catch a glimpse of the monastery through the park. By now it was raining like crazy, so we spent the rest of the evening indoors.
24 April 2019: Vizmalo & Lerma
We left El Escorial early in the morning and we headed north for lunch. Yeah, well, let me explain. We had a reservation for lunch some two-and-a-half hours away, in Vizmalo (Burgos). This was a bit of a silly whim, but we were going to visit an estate / farm and have lunch there – the St. Rosalia Estate / Finca Santa Rosalía breeds wagyu for meat, and holy are they yummy. We had a booking to see the estate first.
While it was still cold, the weather was slowly improving, and in evening we had some sun. We saw the orchards, the grapevines, the cattle, the trees and so on. Then we moved into the wine cellars and saw the barrels, before we tried the wine and some of the meat-dishes that they prepare and sell. The selling point of Finca Santa Rosalía are the wagyu, cattle of Japanese origin. Wagyu meat is completely different from any other beef because it is soft and tender, and in general delicious.
Lunch was brilliant, based, of course on the wagyu meat. The T-bone was scrumptious and even if it was on the “a lot of money” side, it did not feel too expensive for a once-in-a-lifetime experience considering the amazing quality.
After lunch we drove off towards Lerma, a city which was revamped by the Duke of Lerma back in the 17th century. After finding our hotel and dropping our stuff off, we walked to the Duke’s Palace turned luxury hotel: Palacio Ducal & Parador de Lerma.
We walked around and came across the Mirador de los Arcos / Archway Viewpoint.
Then we saw Colegiata de San Pedro / St. Peter’s Collegiate church, where there was a religious exhibition being held (“Las Edades del Hombre”), with the topic of angels. Pictures were not allowed, or we would have shown you a few… interesting representation.
Sunset crawled upon us and it was nice view. We had dinner somewhere around the town centre, and called it a night before we drove home the following day.