It has been a while since our last trip and we urgently needed some warmth and sun. No better place to be ‘sure’ of that than the capital of Spain, Madrid you’d think. Well, we mustn’t complain, but the weather changed substantially when we left 🙂

We arrived in Madrid in the evening, so we could start the next day with fully charged batteries. The road from the airport to the hotel  (Dear Hotel) was a bit bumpy: construction works on the metro decided this was not a smooth ride but a packed one on an airport express bus and a short ride on the metro. We took a taxi back (which we usually never do since we always travel on a budget 🙂 ).

Day 1 announced itself as a rainy one but Madrid is known a the most sunny capital of Europe and it fully lived up to it! We started our trip walking to the Royal Palace along the Jardines de Sabatini. 9 o’clock is way too early for Spanish people and tourists: we are completely alone! The Palace is massive and free to visit on certain hours for EU-citizens. Spain is a very catholic country, and this is very much reflected in the fact that the Catedral de la Almudena is just in front of the Palace. We read you can go up on the roof of the cathedral, but we are too early. However, we can walk around inside the cathedral, which is quite ornamented and has beautiful glass windows. The building is only finished in 1993, which explains the modern touch.

By the time we go outside, we notice the dome will almost open. And yes, at 10 AM sharp, the doors open and we are the first visitors of the day. During an hour (!) we are alone on the roof and enjoy the magnificent views over the Royal Palace and Madrid. For €6 per person you can also visit the museum, if you are interested in the history of the Spanish church and the visits of the pope(s).

#madrid #sunny #view #wanderlust #travel #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The next church on our list is the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande. And ‘grand’ is sure is! The dome is overwhelming with representations of different stories. It’s almost noon when we are back in the streets of Madrid, and we start our search for food. We decide to walk to the Mercado de Puerta de Toledo, along the gate (one of many which can be found on roundabouts).

The market is just a flea market, so we walk further. The shops around are quite interesting 😉 On the Mercado de Cebeda we find something (cheap) to eat and with renewed energy we walk towards the next market. On our way we end at the Plaza de la Villa – small but very beautiful, in the old part of town – Barrio de los Austrias. And apparently (always look at what other people do :-)) we walked there along the ‘Calle del Codo’ or Elbow Street. The street has indeed the form of a plicated arm, but all the guides show you have to walk in this street arm in arm with your partner. We are very close to the big square Plaza Mayor, but first we stop at the Mercado San Miguel. Way too crowdy and expensive, but one has to eat …

We rest at the Plaza Mayor, once an execution place, but today ideal for people watching. This area is very touristic, with the big shopping streets and Plaza del Sol around the corner.

On our way back to the hotel, we find the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales right in the middle of this shopping area. Very strange! The monastery was once build as a palace by a Spanish king, and than given away to the monks. We have our dinner way earlier than we usually eat to beat the Spanish habit of eating at 9 PM. To end the day, we head to one of the best places to see the sunset: Temple of Debod. This temple is more than 2000 years old, and was a gift of the Egyptians. We are not the only ones who have read about the sunset-best-place … But it is a nice place with a great atmosphere!

Our second day is a cloudy one … At least it doesn’t rain, so we can follow our plan. We decide to take the metro (we used a 10-trip card, for € 12,2 which is cheaper than a day card for the sights we want to visit) to spare our feet a bit. Our first stop is the railway station Principe Pio. At first sight, it is a dilapidated building, but luckily we walk around and find out the run-down bit is the old building. In the front is the new building. All in all, it is not that special and we take the metro to the Embajadores area.

We instantly find what we were looking for: the old tabac factory Tabacalera. The walls around it are part of a street art project, supported by the city of Madrid. The paintings are stunning and give the street some much needed colour! We want to visit the Mercado San Fernando as well (to find a take away lunch), but it is still closed (what did you expect on a Sunday …).

By accident we find out the Tabacalera is an exposition hall now, and it’s open at 11 o’clock with free entrance. When we are back outside, the market hall is also open and we find something to eat (yes, it was open, but only a third of the stalls were in action – those Spanish people truly have a different way of life!). From here the road takes us to El Rastro. We’ve never seen so much frames in one place! And the market itself is unbelievably big and crowdy!

We head to the Atocha railway station but cannot find the monument for the victims of the bombing in 2004. We do find the garden inside the station and are amazed by so many turtles (shocked is a better word) … The Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art is just across the street. From 1.30 PM the entrance is for free, and the queue is gigantic.

We rest a bit (enjoying 5 minutes of sun) but decide to leave it – meanwhile the museum is open but the queue only gets longer. We’ll have to watch Picasso’s Guernica another time. We walk to the El Retiro park, on the other side of the road. Huge with some nice palaces and a big pound. Lovely to walk around some green in the middle of the city! After our walk in the park we take the metro to the center to look for something to eat (dinner at 4 PM is way too early, but we wouldn’t survive till 8.30 PM …) and walk back to our hotel. From the roof of our hotel we admire the sunset (way better place than the Temple) and let our feet rest. I wonder how far we walked today 🙂

On day three we can experience Spring for the first time of the year. By midday we walk in shorts and T-shirts 🙂 But first we take the metro to the farthest point on this trip: the Cuatro Torres Business Area. It’s a stunning sight when you come out of the tube station and look up to an incredible high and modern tower! The four towers fight for the attention of our camera’s and by the time we head down the road to the Kio Towers, it’s already past noon.

The Kio Towers are a bit like the modern gate to the city. We take the metro back, and find a nice food market in the El Chueca neighbour. This is a really nice area, with small shops (which are mainly closed … you know, Spanish style 😉 ). Definitely have to come back here! We end up at the Centro de las Bellas Artes, a monumental art-déco building with an amazing roof. For 4 euro per person Madrid lays at your feet! The panorama at the city hall is closed, so we walk along the Paseo del Prado to the center – we passed the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is for free on Monday afternoon, but the weather was just to nice to go inside, and we skipped the free entrance of the Prado bearing in mind the queue at the Reina Sofia.

360 view #madrid #travel #wanderlust #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

After our early dinner we enjoy the sun across the Royal Palace (with, yet again, an endless queue because of the free entrance). The teleférico appears to be closed, so we take a last look at the Temple of Debod before heading back to the hotel for an amazing sunset.

This was a very lovely city trip, we haven’t seen everything yet so we’ll have to come back 🙂

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