I'm certainly living the dream here in Madrid.
I have everything I could want in a European city: culture, fashion, trendy restaurants, authentic cafes, museums, art, and a foreign language to learn. But I also have nature. I am able to get out of the city and breathe in fresh air on the weekends. I'm able to hike up and down a mountain during the day, and jet on back to my comfy apartment in the center right after. I'm able to make new friends while enjoying the beauty of nature, and then celebrate our success over a caña or cafe con leche at the end.
I went hiking last Sunday on Monte Abantos in San Lorenzo de El Escorial with a group called Hiking Madrid. It was my second hike with the group, and it certainly won't be the last! Check out my post on my first hike, La Pedriza in Manzanares el Real. If you live in Madrid and are looking to get out of the city every now and then, check out this company. The guide, Jonathan, is really great!
This week, our group consisted of our guide, Jonathan, two men, and fifteen girls. We kept joking about girl power because this hike was advertised as one of the most difficult of the season. And difficult it was. In total, the hike was 12K, about 7.5 miles, and 2,300 feet in elevation. Talk about a casual Sunday workout.... not.
Up, up, up we go! Say hello to one of the many cows we passed on our way. Bessie does not look impressed.
There were so many moments during this hike when I wanted to quit. I was huffing and puffing and the muscles in my legs were BURNING. But I didn't quit. I knew I wanted to see the view from the top. So I kept on chugging on. Thank goodness I did.
Helllllllo beautiful Spain. The town San Lorenzo de El Escorial is home to a very important monastery, which holds the remains of the royal families of Spain. El Escorial also has ties to the old fascist leader, Franco. He created a monument in what was called "The Valley of the Fallen" to "honor" those who died in the Spanish Civil War. He ended up being buried at the monument. We were also able to see the top of this monument at one point in our hike.
I could not stop taking pictures once we finallllllly reached the top!
GIRL POWER, y'all (with our guide Jonathan)!
Exhausted but so very happy.
If we would have followed this wall all the way down and around, we would have eventually ended up at the Valley of the Fallen.
Did I mention yet that a lot of the trees were already starting to change colors in this gorgeous mountain town? My favorite season has arrived!
One of the ridiculous mountain houses we passed. According to our guide, these are "summer" homes for many wealthy Spaniards. le sigh.
Our guide took us back into a town a different route so that we were able to see the monastery up close. I definitely need to go back to San Lorenzo de El Escorial to tour this massive UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to wander around the town. It is absolutely beautiful.
Like.... seriously? Can I just live in this moment forever?
This is a continuation of my series on Madrid day trips. Check out my previous posts: