Spain
Madrid

Here you’ll find travel reports about Madrid. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

172 travelers at this place:

  • Day23

    Toledo to Madrid

    July 20 in Spain

    Today we said goodbye to Toledo, stopped on our way out of town for one last photo and then drove to Madrid. We checked into our Airbnb in the centre of town at about 3.30pm. The traffic in the centre of Madrid was crazy. Our host could not believe we had brought a car into the centre of Madrid. She doesn’t even own a car and recommended that we get rid of ours too. I am already scheduled to return the car tomorrow.

    We walked around town to get our bearings. We found a supermarket close by to stock up on supplies.

    Sam had a quiet night in. I had planned to attend the bullfighting display in the Madrid bullring. There were young matadors, picadors and banderilleros putting on a bullfight during the summer while the more experienced bullfighters take a break. It was an interesting spectacle.
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  • Day24

    This morning I braved the crazy Madrid traffic to return the hire car. In some ways I was happy to return the car in one piece after braving the Madrid traffic, sitting on the left-hand side of the car, driving on the right-hand side of the road, and just to add a bit of spice, the far right lane in Madrid city centre is reserved for buses and taxis. The far right lane is the slow lane, my preferred lane in the circumstances, but that was unavailable to me, something which my Spanish compatriots on the road were equally frustrated about - they were all quite keen for me to move into the far right lane, something they regularly urged me to do by use of their loud honking horns. Also, turning right from the middle lane is something the buses and taxis are not keen for motorists to do, as it means cutting through their lane. I discovered that buses have much louder horns than cars, and taxis are even more ready to use their horns as well in such circumstances, as I discovered, having many right turns to make as I circled rather fruitlessly around the train station trying to find the hire car drop-off point. One-way streets are also something Madrid town-planners have embraced with enthusiasm disproportionate to their practicality. I am not sure the complete guidelines around their use was complied with in my driving experience this morning, although I am unsure I could pinpoint exactly where I went wrong. The Spanish were keen to give me hints about this, once again using their horns to maximum effect.

    The hire-car depot was in the huge Madrid Train Station, which is so large and filled with commuters and tourists coming in on the fast trains that it is more like an airport. It took me three hours just to drive to the station via a petrol station to fill up, find the appropriate location to return the vehicle, and then find my way back to the apartment. It was quite an ordeal, for me and the Spanish citizens who interacted with me for various purposes, including providing valuable feedback on my use of large roundabouts.

    As I walked back to the apartment I was sidetracked by quite a few fascinating sights and spectacles in Madrid. It was a Saturday so there were markets aplenty. One market I came across was just all bookstores selling second-hand books. There was a line of permanent wooden stalls that housed thousands of books in little stalls. It was amazing. Even though I can't read Spanish, and there wasn't an English book to be seen, the atmosphere was similar to the stalls on the walkway beside the Seine in Paris. I found a copy of Asterisk in Spain, in Spain, in Spanish.

    I also tried churros for the first time in Spain, having resisted until today. I ordered what I thought was going to be some churros with dipping sauce, but turned out to be churros completely covered with chocolate. A carb overload for sure. I was given a bag-full of them and I only just managed to finish them.

    Madrid is an entirely different kind of city from anything we have seen before in Spain. This is a much more modern city like Sydney or Melbourne. The crowds are packing into the city and its shoulder to shoulder. As our Airbnb hostess was keen and correct to emphasise - never bring a car into the centre of Madrid.
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  • Day24

    Segway Tour of Madrid

    July 21 in Spain

    I came across a shopfront in Madrid, on the way back to our apartment after dropping off the hire car, that organises and runs Segway tours of Madrid. I have seen plenty of them running around many of the other cities we have been to, but it seemed today was a perfect time, and Madrid a perfect place, to give these cute two-wheelers a go. I booked a 2-hour private tour via Segway at 6:30 pm and then returned to the apartment and told Sam. He was very keen, as was I.

    We arrived promptly at 6:30 pm to begin the tour. It doesn't get dark here till 10:00 pm so things are just getting started in Spain at 6:30 pm. We were given instructions on how to ride the Segway, and a guide named Irene (what is it with girl guides named Irene in this country? we have only had two young female tour guides and both of them have been named Irene) proceeded to lead us on a 2-hour journey around the most beautiful sites in Madrid.

    Our tour took us through the gardens which were once part of the Royal Palace. The gardens had a French area, a huge greenhouse and a massive lake. The greenhouse was for plants from the Philippines (named that after Philip the King of France at the time of colonisation) and the massive lake was for mini naval battles using full-size galleons for the entertainment of the king and the nobles.

    We spent about an hour through the gardens, then we went on a tour through some of the older areas of Madrid. We saw the impressive Royal Palace and the Cathedral on the opposite side of the square, both built in renaissance style. We also visited the Main Square which dates from the 15th century and used to be used for bullfights. Also, it was used by the Inquisition to execute convicted heretics - about 4000 were executed in that square alone over the years. Franco, the dictator on Spain from 1939 to 1975 also like to use the square for executions. There were places for hangings, beheadings and garrotings. The last garrotting took place in the square in 1975 (yes, only a little over 40 years ago) under the orders of Franco.

    Ernest Hemingway, the famous American writer who spent a lot of time in France and Spain, travelled to Spain and fought in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. He also watched many bullfights here in Madrid. His famous book, For Whom The Bell Tolls, is based on his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War. He also wrote at least three books in which bullfighting plays a major part in the story, including Death In the Afternoon, and The Sun Also Rises. We saw the restaurants and cafes where Hemingway had a regular table and watched the Spanish day go by in the 1930s.

    We saw medieval prisons, the town hall, museums and concert halls, the world's oldest continually operating restaurant. I have visited at least three restaurants claiming to be the world's oldest, in various countries now, one in Paris, one in Vienna and now one in Madrid. The guide assured me that it was in the Guinness Book of Records so I will have to remember to consult it to verify the claim.

    The Segway Tour was a highlight. They are remarkably easy to control, despite them appearing very difficult to ride. They are very stable, extremely maneuverable, and quite speedy. I really thought these would be useful in Australian cities as an alternative to other modes of transport. They run on rechargeable batteries and go for at least 2-3 hours on each charge. I am not sure of the rules in Australia about their use, but I would presume the rule-makers and fun police would have outlawed them.
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  • Day25

    The Royal Palace

    July 22 in Spain

    The Royal Palace of Madrid was the next site to be explored. Spain currently has a monarchy - King Felipe VI. Spain has been through various versions of political constitution, including republic, dictatorship, monarchy. At the moment it is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. In that sense, Spain is like Australia (except our monarch is really the Queen of England). There are two strong views in Spain - one group say that the monarchy should be eradicated in favour of a republic, and the other support the king. One of our guides said that one day there will be another civil war to decide the matter. Obviously all the previous civil wars have not decided the matter satisfactorily, so I'm not sure what another civil war will achieve.

    The Royal Palace is not the permanent residence of the King and his family, although it is used for special state occasions. The royal family live outside Madrid in a more peaceful setting. The Royal Palace is now used for state events and a whole wing of the palace is open to tourists. This wing is furnished as it was in the 18th century in the reign of Carlos 111 (Spanish for Charles 111). The sumptuous palace and its rooms are magnificent. The artwork and furnishings on display are much like the other great palaces in Europe. In fact, this royal palace is the largest palace in Europe by floor area. It has 3418 rooms. If you visited 10 rooms a day, it would take a year to visit all the rooms!

    The throne room in which the king received ambassadors is furnished as it was. The visitors would wait in a smallish room, to get acquainted with their smallish status, and then enter the grand throne room where the king (and queen) would be seated, elevated, and surrounded by royal fabrics and statues of lions with their paws resting on carved spheres, representing the power of Spain over the earth.

    There was one thing on display that particularly caught my eye. In one room there is a full quintet of Stradivarius string instruments of the highest quality. It is the only such set in the world. They are on display in glass cases. There are two violins, a viola and a cello, all decorated the same. Then there is an additional undecorated cello that is the finest instrument of them all and one of the best in the world. I wasn't expecting that. With all the crowns and gold sceptres around, it was these instruments that held the most value from my perspective. It was tempting to break the glass case right there and do some busking. The instruments are all set up ready to play, and apparently they do get played on special occasions. These instruments would be priceless, but I would reckon the set would be worth more than 150 million dollars if it went onto the market right now.

    The Royal Palace is worth a visit for a number of reasons, not least of which is the collection of Stradivarius string instruments. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed in most of the palace, so my photos are only those I could surreptitiously take when the security personnel weren't watching and they will be low quality.
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  • Day25

    The Royal Gardens are attached to the Royal Palace and are as impressive as would expect them to be. The largest palace in Europe is not going to be embarrassed by a small veggie patch and a few pot plants out the back. The formal gardens were huge and well kept. They were pleasant to stroll through and they are open for the Madrid residents and tourists to enjoy on the hot summer days.

    The Madrid Cathedral is very young as far as cathedrals are concerned. It was only completed in 1993, 110 years after the foundation stone was laid on 1883. When the capital of Spain moved from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the church remained in Toledo. The cost of running and maintaining an empire came first for the monarchy, and then some wars with France, civil wars and other costly ventures diverted funds from a project that was alwayd meant to happen, but just didn't for lack of funds. Finally the project was completed in 1993. The external design is classical to fit in with the architecture of the royal palace across the square, but the inside is neo-gothic, a bit more modern. There is also a large crypt which is the same size as the cathedral itself, underneath, which was completed many years ago and houses some famous Spanish graves.

    After visiting the cathedral and the crypt, it was time to wander back through the streets of Spain for our last night in this amazing country. Tomorrow we fly to Paris. It has been an whirlwind tour, and an amazing journey, around this unforgettable country. Grazias, Espania.
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  • Day25

    Prado Museum

    July 22 in Spain

    Today we explored some of Madrid's most amazing sites - the Museo Nacional del Prado, the Palacio Real de Madrid, the Madrid Cathedral and the Royal Gardens. These places are magnificent.

    The Prado Museum takes its name from the "meadow" (Spanish "prado") which once existed in the area gave its name to the location in which the museum now stands. It is one of the pre-eminent art museums in the world. It's collection rivals the Louvre. There are some huge paintings in the collection, and many fine works by artists such as Goya, Rubens, El Greco, Titian, Valezquez, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, just to name a few. We spent four hours there and still did not see everything. It was an amazing place. The artworks are breath-taking. One could just look and the giant paintings by Rubens in the main arched hall for hours and still see new things in them. One of the paintings that captured my imagination was a 16th-century painting called The Triumph of Death by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. It depicts life as a battle between the forces of death and life, and that death is winning the war and everyone living is, or is soon to be, a prisoner and casualty of death, who is depicted as a scythe-wielding skeleton on a horse leading an army of skeletons swamping the army of the living. It is very graphic, almost cartoonish, and difficult to believe it was painted in 1562.

    There are many famous paintings in the Prado, and around every corner, there were new amazing sights to be seen.
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  • Day2

    Day 2 - Exploring Madrid

    September 11, 2017 in Spain

    First full day in Madrid! We got a much needed 11 hours of sleep then ventured out for a long day. Started with pastries at the famous La Mallorquina where I had the best croissant of my life! Next, we walked for miles, hitting some of the top tourist attractions of the capital - Museo Del Prado, the Royal Palace of Madrid, and the Plaza Mayor for lunch. Early evening siesta and then tapas and vino!Read more

  • Day1

    Day 1 - Madrid Arrival!

    September 10, 2017 in Spain

    Long, mostly sleepless night/morning flight from JFK to Lisbon. Long line to get through customs. Long 4 hour layover in Lisbon. Long, confusing, Spanish-practicing cab ride, while attempting to dodge a crowd-filled national cycling race through the city of Madrid, to get to our Airbnb. Finally made it to our cute studio apartment in the middle of everything by early evening. We were ready to go right to sleep but decided to push through and enjoy our first night! Dinner of pork loin, ham and peppers tapas, goat cheese, onion and blueberry tapas, and seafood marinara paella. Followed by people watching with wine and cafe outside on the streets of Sol. Very long but very awesome first day in Europe! Now hopefully 12+ hours of sleep!!! Buenos noches!!Read more

  • Day11

    Again we had a reasonable sleep, woke and breakfasted....in the morning at 8.30am it is almost a pleasant temperature....but we still feel a bit fuzzy in the head during the day, so annoying...I think tomorrow it will be over. The intense heat doesn’t help of course, but we dealt with that quite well today. We met Omnia at 9.45 and went to the Thyssen museum, which is also nearby. We had visited it last time in Madrid, really good..large building, but easy to find your way - the numbers of the rooms actually follow on, and a huge range of art - from madonnas and bambini to modern, and good examples. The also was a special exhibition of Monet and Boudin. Excellent, and as always with special exhibits you see works from all over the world that you have never seen, and would never have seen. Have to confess that I don’t remember hearing of or seeing the works of Eugene Boudin, but he was 15 years older than Monet and a sort of mentor...they influenced each other, but he largely got Monet going...the comparison was very interesting. So all that kept us cool for the morning. Around 12 we went to the cafe and had a light lunch and then Omnia had to hop on the airport bus which stopped nearby to catch a plane back to the UK. So after saying our goodbyes we continued on in the cool and explored the floors we had not yet seen.

    Finally, around 3 pm we ventured out and had a beer at a basque cafe we had noticed in the same plaza where we had dinner last night. It was a trial run for tonight and we liked what we saw and indeed did come back there for dinner today. But first we walked back and had a short break in the a/c and wifi of our room. While there we booked online tickets to visit the Royal Palace...so much better than standing in the heat in a queue - Omnia had recommended this and it worked. We sailed past the queue - not a long line, but even 10 minutes in the heat would be unpleasant- and had the tickets zapped on my phone! The palace is quite near our hotel, just behind the opera where we are.

    So it was a good visit, with all the splendour of Royal palaces, and the armour, glassware and porcelain, sumptuous rooms, gala banquet table set for 50....lots of fun. Couldn’t take photos in the special rooms. We called into the cathedral that is beside the palace and which was open...I’ll have to read up about it, but it is quite modern and light in comparison with the cathedrals we know are coming on the Camino. Lovely but modern looking stained glass, though enormously tall column and arches.

    Then we went straight back to our chosen place to eat and drink - Golfo de Bizkaia. Drank copious fizzy water and wind and the best food....my favourite baby squid grilled being my highlight. Too tired to add more detail. I think it is cooling a little tomorrow and anyway I think Pamplona is a little cooler than here. The max today was about 35° supposedly which is high, but not super high, but sure feels hot when you are out in it.

    Tomorrow we pack up and get the train at 11.30, arrive Pamplona about 2.30...a new adventure and the beginning of the Camino! A day to see Pamplona and we walk on Wednesday!
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  • Day3

    The sun rises quite late here at this time of the year. At 8 am in the morning it is still quite dark and the air is fresh and cool. This makes the early morning the best time of day to do your exploration.

    We had already decided that today we would head off towards the Plaza Mayor and then continue to the Royal Palace and the nearby Madrid Cathedral. After another lovely breakfast we donned our walking gear and headed off into the city. It was amazing how quickly we were beginning to feel at home in this place and we were beginning to feel more confident in wandering the central part of the city without losing our bearings completely.

    At 10 am the large Plaza Mayor was almost deserted, apart from a few young tourists posing for their selfies. Allan and I decided to sneak into the background and photobomb one couple's carefully staged picture. We both put on our most stupid looking faces and looked over their shoulders into their camera. Surprisingly we did not get a punch in the face from the guy as they both seemed to think it was quite funny.

    Continuing on past the plaza we soon came upon the distinctive white buildings that are a feature of the palace precinct. Our first glimpse of the imposing Royal Palace reminded me a little of the Palace of Versailles. The area outside the place was still largely empty, although a few eager tourists were beginning to form a queue outside the ticket office. Since none of us had any real desire to pay money to view the inside of the palace, we decided to walk around the corner to have a look inside the huge Cathedral of Santa Maria instead. At least the entrance was free.

    Our journey then took us past the Egyptian Temple of Debod. In case you were wondering whether the Egyptians actually made it all the way to Spain - they didn't. Apparently the temple was dismantled stone by stone and then reassembled in this unlikely location. Another example of the theft of Egyptian artefacts and monuments by the wealthy European countries.

    Our final stop was the lovely Parque del Oeste (Park of the East). The shady trees provided some relief from the heat that was rapidly building up and we indulged ourselves in some people watching. By this time our tummies were telling us that it was time for lunch and we eventually found a lovely little outside cafe where we enjoyed a delicious lunch. They even gave us a plate of free paella. A pity about the jackhammers that were relentlessly pounding away at the street pavement a few metres away.

    After lunch we wandered back to the hotel (our bladders could not last out all day). After a brief rest I ventured out again on a short walk and it did not take long before I found a well dressed guy with a microphone in his hand. He was standing next to a very mature lady with MUCH too much make up on her ageing face. This looked interesting I thought. As the camera man manoeuvred about trying to get the best angle, I also managed to work my way around to behind the couple. After all I now considered myself an expert in the abstract art of photobombing.

    As the interview started I managed to walk back and forth in the background. It's not everyday you get the chance to star on Spanish TV and I had nothing better to do with my time. I thus felt that I had made maximum use of my brief stay in Madrid. Tomorrow afternoon we take the train to Bilbao where we will meet up with the rest of our team.

    I can honestly say that we have really enjoyed our all too brief time in this city.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Madrid, Мaдрид, ማድሪድ, Madrit, مدريد, ܡܕܪܝܕ, Мадрид, Горад Мадрыд, মাদ্রিদ, མ་ད་རིད།, Mā-dáik-lī, مەدرید, Madridi, Μαδρίτη, Madrido, Madril, Mairil, مادرید, Maidrid, Mâ-tet-lî, Makelika, מדריד, मद्रिद, Մադրիդ, MAD, マドリード, მადრიდი, ಮಡ್ರಿಡ್, 마드리드, Madrîd, Matritum, Madridas, Madride, മാഡ്രിഡ്, माद्रिद, မဒရစ်မြို့, Мадрид ош, म्याड्रिड, माद्री, ମାଡ୍ରିଦ, ਮਾਦਰੀਦ, Madryt, 28001, Мадрід, मद्रिद्, Madrids, மத்ரித், Madríd, มาดริด, Lungsod ng Madrid, مادرىد, میدرد, מאדריד, 馬德里

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