Where did I go: Madrid, Spain
When did I go: March 2016
Saturday 5th March
1145: Just dropped off the car at a meet and greet parking at Heathrow Terminal 5.
1200: Checked in. We are travelling British Airways Club Europe, so there’s a dedicated set of check-in desks. There’s still queues, so it’s not a big improvement from the Euro Traveller class, I must say.
1215: Fast track through security.
1220: At Club Europe lounge at Terminal 5. It has a somewhat limited selection of free food and drinks and lots of seats. Although not heaving with people, it is still crowded.
1400: On the plane. This is where Club Europe makes a discernible difference – in the usual 3 seats on either side of the aisle configuration, the middle seat is converted to a table, so you have more room to stretch sideways, but no extra leg room. Good selection of food and drink too and great service. If it wasn’t for the free upgrade voucher from Avios, I would not say it was worth forking out the extra cash for this when travelling to Europe.
1730: Landed in Madrid. The airport is light, airy and modern. We landed in one of the satellite terminals so bit if a trek to the main building.
1740: Waiting for luggage.
1810: Got the luggage. In to a taxi for our journey to the hotel. The taxi costs 30 Euros, which is a standard fare for most places within the Madrid area.
1830: Arrived at our home for the next two nights – The Petite Palace Santa Barbara hotel. Hotel itself on an old building, but inside its got contemporary decor and high tech. Not my cup of tea, but it’s all done to a high standard.
2000: Dinner at La Casa Tomada. Local cafe/eatery that has very good reviews. Upon entering we hit the language barrier – menu is entirely in Spanish and the staff don’t speak English readily. Anyway, thanks to a mix of broken English, Spanish and sign language we managed to get a table. Food is fantastic and really good value for money.
2115: Back to the hotel for cake and coffee.
Sunday 6th March
0930: Breakfast at hotel. Costs 20 Euros per head – not worth it. Especially if you are not drinking Champagne for breakfast.
1000: Leave hotel to catch the Madrid city tour bus. Nearest pickup location is a 10 minute walk away.
1015: There are two city tours on the same to ticket – modern Madrid and historical Madrid. We take the modern Madrid tour first. Although it is a clear and sunny day, it is absolutely freezing – especially on the top deck of the bus. We see a number of sights of modern Madrid – including the Real Madrid football stadium and the parliament building.
1130: Finished with the modern Madrid tour, so we hop on the historical Madrid tour next. We see many sights including the royal palace, Museo Del Prado and El Retiro Park.
1330: Lunch at VIPS opposite the Neptune fountain.
1430: At Museo Del Prado – one of Spain’s most visited attractions. Its home to many masterpieces by the likes of Goya, Velazquez, Rembrandt etc. I’m no art-buff, but even I can see the talent that went into these paintings. I also recognize the famous portrait of Queen Mary Tudor by Antonio Moro.
1600: On the way to the Royal Place via Puerta del Sol. Puerta del Sol is considered the centre of Madrid and by extension the centre of Spain. Distance from Madrid to many other places in Spain are apparently measured from this point. On this Sunday afternoon, the Square is bustling with activity and many street performers.
1615: At Plaza Mayor. This is another main square of Madrid. Built in 1598, the square has been the scene markets, bullfights, football games and public executions. It also has a ring of shops and cafes under its porticoes.
1630: Outside the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Catedral. The palace is much like Buckingham Palace in London.
1700: Drinks in seafood restaurant.
1730: Walk back via Gran Via which I gather is like London’s Oxford street. It’s past 5 pm on a Sunday, but unlike the UK, the shops show no signs of closing. (UK Sunday Trading Laws mean that most shops are closed by 4 or 5 p.m. on a Sunday.)
1930 Dinner at hotel – 3 course meal and coffee for 16 Euros each. Bargain. The menu is in Spanish again, but we have discovered the google translate app. You open the app, point the camera at anything you want translated, and viola! Its not perfect, but good enough to tell the chicken from the veal!
Sadly, our time at Madrid has come to an end. Tomorrow, we go to Sevilla in the South of Spain. If I’m back in Madrid, here’s a list of things I would like to try:
- City tour on foot with Feel the city Madrid tours. We tried this in Seville and it was really quite good. I would like to take a closer look at some of the things we saw during the bus tour.
- Spend and afternoon in El Retiro Park: We didn’t get to go in there this afternoon, but it looked great from the bus.
- Visit the Royal Palace