Madrid is a diamond in the middle of an arid plain in the middle on Spain. Though it's been an important Spanish city of centuries, it wasn't the Spanish capital until the early 1600s. The grand palace was built in the 1700s, which isn't that long ago given the ancient castles in Toledo or Seville.
I arrived in Madrid on Monday morning with my Mom and two sisters. We got an apartment suite just north of the the Gran Via -- the main boulevard that cuts through Madrid east to west. We got lucky because the room was ready, so we were able to dump our luggage, freshen up and head out onto the street.
Here's the most important thing you need to know about Madrid -- this is a very walkable city. And a walkable city makes like all the more easier.
From our hotel, it was an easy 30 minute walk to the Prado, which was basically on the other side of the city from where we were. And after an over-night flight, the walk was most welcome.
The Prado has an amazing collection ... especially if you're into religious paintings. Murillo is the star of the museum, in my opinion. I get goosebumps looking at his ascensions. But the Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights is what brings most people in.
|Drink Service at Lhardy's|
|Plaza Mayor in the Setting Sun|
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by the Mercado de San Miguel. It was a functioning market in the early 1900s but had been closed for decades before private investors bought and fixed it up in 2009. It's now a GREAT place to stop for ice cream and other bites.
|Mercado de San Miguel|
I had planned Day 2 down to the hour! I wanted to take advantage of all the little places near our hotel in the north, as well as get into the Palacio. HOWEVER, we made the horrible mistake of not setting an alarm and none of us slept very well ... so ... I was the first one up on Tuesday at 12:30 in the afternoon. The horror!!! We slept through our hotel's complementary breakfast and everything!
I roused the girls and we got out as quickly as uncaffeinated mothers can move. Which isn't too quick.
|Streets Around the Hotel|
By the time we got through the beautiful side garden and to the Palacio Real it was CLOSED! By 15 minutes!! There was some event happening there in the afternoon so they closed early. Of course!
|Royal Palace - Closed|
|Teatro Real in the Distance|
This pretty much concluded the "sight-seeing" portion of our day ... the rest was dedicated to SHOPPING! We walked back up to the Gran Via and then took a left up the Calle de Fuencarral, a pedestrian street with shops for blocks and blocks.
Unable to adopt to the Spanish meal schedule, which dictates a small dinner at 9 or 10, we looked through a few just-opening restaurants to find a place for dinner at 8. We found a cute restaurant and drank wine until the kitchen opened at 8:30. Oh those Americans!
That night, we repacked our suitcases and got ready for our early-morning departure to Tenerife, for the next leg of our Spain travel.