Three Days in Madrid
After only 3 days in this huge city, I am not pretending to know it, much less telling you what you should see or do… Just sharing what WE did with three days in Madrid and what we learned.
We arrived, as most people will, at the international airport and figured out that the best way to get to downtown was by the yellow Aero-puerto Express Bus. It costs 5 euros to go to the end of the line – Atocha Station, which was only a 10 minute walk to our Air BnB. The bus goes every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/airport-express
If you do your homework, Air BnB’s can be the most wonderful way to stay anywhere. I had found a place in the area we wanted – walking distance to the station as well as to all downtown sights. They can also disappoint if you don’t read all the information carefully, or ask questions before booking.
Our AirBnB was a small room with a private bathroom, tiny kitchen and loft. It gave us all the amenities we wanted plus a kingsize bed for 50 euros a night. I always find it a shame when AirBnB owners don’t offer any extras like a few tea bags or some coffee. This one had a tiny kitchen but no tea or coffee. When you are only there for a few days, you don’t want to buy a pound of coffee or a box of teabags… So we had coffee and meals in little cafe’s in the area. I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet this place was, tucked away at the back of an apartment building away from the busy street.
On day 1, I arrived and walked in the area of the B & B waiting until I could check in and leave my luggage. There were no tourist information centres, so I boldly walked into a fancy hotel and asked for a city map. Got a great one that helped me during my entire stay.
I planned the next two days simply by checking out the downtown sights that I was interested in. In Spain, people eat late at night. Many restaurants don’t open till 9 PM. We almost go to bed at that time. But in a large city like Madrid plenty of places cater to tourists and are open earlier. I found a good size supermarket in a back street and stocked up on some milk, yogurt and fruit. Air BnB’s often don’t include breakfast…
On day 2, I slept in, to get over jetlag quickly, had bacon and eggs, toast and coffee in a tiny restaurant immediately next to the BnB, for 5 euros, including freshly squeezed orange juice.
Then I walked ALL over downtown Madrid: up Calle de Atocha to the Plaza Mayor – a beautiful ancient square. I found little hilly streets all over, leading to Puerto del Sol and other medieval squares, via old churches, new coffee shops and charming narrow streets with balconies full of green plants and singing parakeets.
I followed the ancient cobblestones to the royal palace, the Palacia Real and the adjacent cathedral. I then looped around back into the old city by strolling through the tranquil Jardin Oriental along a path lined with statues. Had lunch for 3.50 of Spanish omelet (eggs with potatoes and onions), fresh orange juice, warm bread and coffee.
Then I walked back along the Paseo de Prado and took photos of the outside of this world famous museum. Having spent enough time in the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, a day of looking at paintings did not appeal to me. I preferred walking outside in the green spaces and parks of Madrid. Benches everywhere and just fun to see the gorgeous architecture and parks. One of my favorites was the Paseo del Prado with lots of bookstalls. You can stroll along, shop for books, buy a warm pastry or fried potato chips. The government buildings of Madrid are breathtaking with lacy turrets and statues everywhere, even on the rooftops.
Around 6 PM we joined many others on a small patio for a beer and a glass of wine, served with warm bread and chorizo. We also celebrated being in Spain by having traditional paella for dinner – a round dish of rice, veggies and seafood.
On our 3rd day, despite terrible rain, we walked all over the Parque de el Retiro which houses the Crystal Palace and Palacio de Velázquez. In the last one there was a display of modern art. There were no explanations in English but it felt like an Ikea showroom after a hurricane – with desks and chairs suspended in mid air, flattened tables and fractured pieces of furniture…..
The park itself is an amazing space, very large, with walking paths, playgrounds, ponds – in the middle of the city. Even in the rain many people were out jogging.
We walked along the mirror pond to the National Library. The building was impressive on the outside but unfortunately it was closed for the day so we couldn’t see the inside. The museum downstairs was open but again there were no explanations in English at all. Bought a SIM card at the Orange store at Puerto del Sol, had a coffee on Plaza Mayor and just enjoyed watching people of all shapes and sizes stroll by.
For more details: http://www.gomadrid.com/sights/royal-palace.html