Spain: Madrid

This is a Work in Progress

Wile in Madrid, we stayed in a hotel situated near Plaza Santa Ana (great square with outdoor restaurants, bars, etc). It is very nice at night with some great options for a drink, tapas, or a full on dinner. We stayed clear of Puerta del Sol other than once to see it. It seemed to be a magnet for demonstrators and there was a lot of police activity (totally safe–similar to occupy Wall St. type protesting–but not really what you want to spend your vacation in the middle of).

The Royal Palace is worth touring, we really enjoyed it because it had furnishings (unlike a lot of European palaces). Retiro Park is a good place to visit on a nice day. We rented a row boat on the lake which was fun. Also, seek out fresh churros con chocolate while in Madrid (churros with a cup of a warm chocolate pudding for dipping). We had pretty good paella at a restaurant called El Caldero (also on tripadvisor) and great 2.50 Euro calamari sandwiches and papas bravas (potatos with a spicy sauce) at a little place on Plaza Mayor called Casa Rua.

The Prado museum is free after 6pm, after 5pm on Sunday (open until 8pm, closed Monday). We got into a long line at about 5:45 to get in, and were in about 5 minutes after 6. Definitely worth saving some money–8 Euros each. Also, we covered the main things we wanted to here (the museum’s map plan is very helpful with pointing out the most important works), and then headed over to the Reina Sofia for a glance at Picasso’s Guernica. The Reina Sofia is free after 7pm (open until 9pm) on weekdays (closed Tues) and from 2:30pm to 9pm on Saturday, and from 10am until the 2:30pm closing time on Sunday (will save you another 6 Euros each).

Madrid is a great walking city, but it is also a great taxi town, too. Unlike the cab drivers I’ve encountered in Italy, the drivers here were honest. The 2 times we took one it was cheap. We also took the high speed train to Toledo while here for 1/2 a day (33 mins each way) and enjoyed that a lot.

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