Marvellous Madrid, I visited this wonderful city in the Spring! We stayed in a hotel right beside Retiro Park where the main photo is from!
The hotel was wonderful, great spacious rooms, comfy beds,tasty breakfast and a stunning rooftop bar with vistas over Madrid, plus the best cocktails you could have. I’d get onto that… now. I made friends with the barmen and they made me a Cosmopolitan with Sex on the beach jelly in the middle. That was a great start to my holiday.
The hotel was called H10 Puerta De Alcala Hotel
Retiro Park is a huge expanse of a park which is bigger than Hyde Park and Central Park. There is lots to see in the park, flowers to admire, plenty of statues and benches to sit on and take in the atmosphere. I’d advise you take a picnic with you if you go, perhaps from the Food Market, you’ll read about that later.
The highlight is the wonderful lake where you can hire a boat for 8 euros for half an hour. It’s a must do and a must-see! There are coffee and icecream places around there but I’d advise to avoid.
We went on a walking tour as we normally do with Sandemanns and the guide was fantastic. He was a local and explained the history of the City with much gusto and warmth. We met in the Playa Mayor which is a massive square with lots of cobbles, so avoid the high heels! There are lots of tables and chairs dotted around and tourist fare if you want to sit and have a coffee but the prices will be inflated, go local.
We walked to see Royal Palace of Madrid which was very European like in design, you can go in and visit. The Palace is open from 10am-6pm in the Winter and is open from 10am-8pm in the Summer. Tickets cost 11 euros for adults, if you are over the age of 65 you can get a reduction, make sure you show some ID. There is a tourist van outside should you have any questions.
There are nice gardens with statues of the former royals.
I walked up on a small hill across from the Palace and got a great view of the Palace.
Another tip is to visit the Almudena Cathedral which is opposite the Royal Palace. For a small fee you can pay to see the museum. We walked up the stairs to get a beautiful view of the dome ceiling. How beautiful is it?
We then walked out onto the platform and had a beautiful view of the Palace.
Another view we had was of the skyline from the Cathedral:
The next day, we visited the food market called
We walked around and took in the gastronomic delights and sights and smells of the fabulous produce. It would be rude not to sample some Spanish Rioja and tapas so we had:
We then had another glass as we were on holiday and the wine was superb! The glasses of wine cost 4 euros per glass, you could also buy a bottle if you wished and they would open it for you.
I would thoroughly recommend the Food Market, go in and treat yourself to some wonderful food and support the Spanish economy. I would advise to get lunch here rather than in Plaza Mayor!
We ate in some interesting restaurants to say the least, I particularly enjoyed the decor in this restaurant located near our hotel.
We walked around the City, took in the delights of the Moorish architecture and strolled around the winding streets or calle! There were beautiful iron balconies everywhere with a plethora of flowers.
We had found on one of our walks a Convent where you could buy biscuits from a Closed Order of Nuns but we could not locate it when we tried to find it. When you find one, make sure you buy some biscuits there and then.
Luckily for us when we were visiting, there was a festival in Plaza Mayor celebrating Madrid’s Patron Saint who was a farmer. There was a stage with shows of traditional music, costume and dancing.
There were also these locals:
On our third day in Madrid, we had planned to goto Toledo via train. On arrival at the train station we tried to get a train with our three day tourist ticket but this did not include trains but only buses. So, after missing the train, we went to use the self service machines, alas the ticket machines weren’t working. We missed another train, so we went to the ticket office and saw a large crowd standing around looking at a board.
It seems, you have to goto a machine and select if you want tickets for travelling on that day or for the next day. Depending which day you choose, you either get a ticket with A and some numbers or B and some numbers. In essence, it is as though you are at a deli waiting your turn. This is what the sign looks like.
We waited ages with fellow travellers from Italy, China, USA, Hungary waiting for our number to be called so we could purchase the tickets to Toledo, one by one, each of our fellow tourists gave up. I went and walked and found a sign on the Toledo office desk saying all trains were sold out for that day, there was no announcement or anything.
My advice, book before you go so you know you will get a ticket.
Alas, we gave up, we did not make it to Toledo but we went on a lovely walk through the city and visited the Prado Museum.
We walked past some fun landscaping too.
We visited The Temple of Debod :
Feeling famished and forlorn, we walked on a tapas trail along Cava Baja 7 and browsed the menus, we didn’t want to go somewhere full of tourists with tourist prices but visit where the locals go.
We walked along and found La Botilleria De MAXI and heard laughter from outside. We ventured in, there were tables of locals sharing bottles of red rioja and catching up with the news and all the tables were full bar one. We had seen there was Menu del Dia aka Menu of the day advertised on a window.
We were greeted by the owner and asked for a table for two. He looked at the clock, huffed and puffed, then with utter disdain, gave us the menu then threw 2 large bread rolls at us, we were astounded for a moment, didn’t know if we should laugh or laugh more. This was the authentic Spain that wanted, so we had local wines, the most tastiest chicken noodle soup followed by chicken and vegetables and a delightful pudding with a glass of wine for 11 euros each. I made friends with the owner and spoke spanish and he appreciated it and then he smiled and gave us two more glasses for free. How bueno was that!
Feeling full we went to a local bar and had some Cava to celebrate our last day in Madrid which did not goto plan but we wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Walking back towards our hotel we saw this festive decoration to do with the festival
We had some Spanish icecream which you have to try:
So in a nutshell, you must visit Madrid! Easy and walkable city, make sure you go on a city walk, take in the sights, views and go where the locals go 🙂
Also make sure you book day trips via train to Toledo before you leave home… I will do that next time 🙂
When are you going to book??