Day 57: Alcala de HenaresApril 13, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C
Back on the road again to check out another World Heritage site! This was actually a last-minute change of plans; we'd originally intended to visit a different site on the western edge of Madrid, but it was very expensive to visit, no dogs allowed, and closing early due to the impending Easter holidays. So we opted for this one instead, a planned university city on the north-eastern outskirts of Madrid.
It's important as the first ever planned university city, and its outline was transported to many cities across the New World. It was also the birthplace of a couple of important Spaniards: San Justa and San Pastor who were martyred as children here in the 4th century, Miguel de Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote (considered the world's first modern novel and most famous Spanish story), and Catherine of Aragon, first wife to Henry VIII and whose inability to provide a male heir led directly to the start of Anglicanism. So a cool little place!
We wandered around enjoying the town and the warm sunshine, as today was pushing past the mid 20s - close to the warmest day yet I think. The town itself is quite nice, with a closely-set old town, everything packed in on each other, and then the university area which is much larger, wider open, and obviously planned out. Interesting dichotomy. Not many students around though, as today is Easter Thursday and a public holiday in Spain. I forget why, but it's a Roman Catholic thing, obviously. Lots of barricades and stuff set up around churches for processions happening later in the evening.
Had lunch in a busy restaurant along the main pedestrian street, lots of people out eating and enjoying the sunshine. Probably mostly day-trippers from Madrid but it didn't feel super crowded and touristy like other places we've been. Nice spot, and we were both glad we switched from the other site, even though it meant a longer drive on both ends.
Late afternoon we left Alcala de Henares and drove into Madrid proper, heading for our apartment. We've got a few days here and surprisingly, no World Heritage sites since there actually aren't any in Madrid. We'll take a day off to do some work and then another day to do some sightseeing before heading off again into the north-east.
Our Airbnb apartment here is very nice, freshly renovated and on the top floor of a 5-story building with a decent sized terrace. Only problem is that because of the religious holidays, all the supermarkets and shops are closed! Thankfully we'd bought a large bun thing back in Alcala de Henares, so we had that for dinner. Fingers crossed something is open in the morning or it's going to be a hungry day!Read more