Yesterday, as part of a long flight layover to Central America, I spent a day in Madrid. My flight got in at 2:15pm and my connection to Panama was at 12pm the following day so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour but better than nothing! (My choice was either that or changing at Madrid at 2am which I didn’t fancy). Plus I hadn’t been to Madrid before and had wanted to for a while, so jumped at the chance of this ‘free’ flight there! Obviously longer would have been better to explore the city, as it’s huge- however I do think I covered a lot in my one day and it was nice to get a taster! Here’s what I did!
On the whole I found Madrid really easy to navigate and luckily a lot of the key places to see are really close to each other. I booked my night’s stay in a hostel called Way Hostel which was very central, near Tirsa Molina station. The main airport is in Bajaras, just outside the city centre to the north east and as my flight landed mid afternoon, I decided to take the metro to get there rather than a taxi, because it was miles cheaper. The metro turned out to be really easy to use, I followed the instructions my hostel gave me which involved changing lines twice and it was so simple. There were different coloured lines similar to London underground but a lot smaller and less confusing! The hostel was then about a minutes walk from the metro station. I always find it so satisfying navigating my way round on public transport somewhere I don’t speak the language!
I set off my day of exploring by borrowing a paper map from Reception and walking around following that, which I absolutely love doing. Unfortunately the weather on the day wasnot great, it was absolutely FREEZING. The wind was so so cold which took the edge of the fun a little. Classic though, as soon as I leave later this week its meant to be warming up again! Always the way. But anyway, my first stop was Plaza Mayor which was about a ten minute walk from the hostel, and is essentially a huge square, with pretty buildings and little shops around the outside. Because of the temperature, I didn’t stay long here but I had a quick look round! One of the building walls was being refurbished, but they had put up a huge sheet to disguise it haha.
I then walked a bit further and luckily stumbled upon Mercado de San Miguel, a food market I had been recommended to visit. And rightly so, because it was AMAZING! There were tons of amazing food stalls selling little tapas bits, with eveything, fish, meat etc, little desserts, hot drinks, beers, cocktails, sangria and more. It was all set in this beautiful big building too, with high ceilings and wooden beams. I stayed in there for a while under a heater, buying titbits and a glass of sangria.
I then dragged myself away and walked through some other Plazas which were all really pretty, with lots of lovely looking buildings, similar looking to other European countries I’ve been to. One plaza that was particularly pretty was Plaza de la Villa, as pictured below. I then started walking in the direction of the Catedral de la Almudena and Palacio Real, which also weren’t far. The palace was impressive, it looked similar to Buckingham Palace at home but I think it was bigger. I then walked to the hill where the Templo De Debod is situated. I didn’t look at the actual Templo, I know it was some sort of ruin but my aim was the hill it was situated on, apparently a really nice place to see the sunset from. The view looks back on the city, namely the Cathedral and Palace.
I was really, really cold by then so walked back to my hostel via Teatro Real, which is the opera house and another very impresive looking building. Madrid is full of them! Then lastly I walked through Puerto Del Sol which is another huge square with lots of roads coming off it in all directions with tons of shops, restaurants, bars etc. It looked really buzzing and fun but my lips were pretty much blue by then, so I had to head back to my hostel to warm up! I was wearing four layers, but that’s what you get for packing for two climates, not enough winter clothes. Luckily to contribute with the warming, there was unlimited sangria in my hostel that evening which always helps.
Even though I really enjoyed Madrid on the day I had there, I would definietly prefer to go back in hotter weather. I was particularly surprised with the amount of incredible food everywhere, and to sit outside to sample it all with a sangria or estrella beer would have been lovely. There’s always next time eh!
And on to Central America!