Madrid, Spain! What a Spectacular City!!!
Madrid. What a surprise! We had no idea where to go in Spain, so we read some of our travel books and they all said not to miss Madrid so we put it on our list and wow! Madrid, Spain reminded me a a Spanish version of Paris. I’m so glad we went there!
Where to Stay in Madrid
Usually I don’t like to write negative reviews or bash places but in this case I am making an exception and writing here about where NOT to stay.
We booked our apartment at Hotels.com and were surprised to get a letter from the apartment owners a day before we were supposed to get there that was pretty rude. It was so rude in fact that I sent a letter to Hotels.com immediately and told them I didn’t want to stay there after all, but it was on the weekend and they didn’t get back to me right away.
So we got to the apartment and despite a threatening letter from them that we had better not be late to check in or they would take their time getting back to let us in, they were late! What if the train were late though? There can be many reasons why we might have been late; but we weren’t. They were.
On top of that, the listing said that they had a multilingual staff and help with tours, implying that there was a check in desk. There wasn’t. A single person met us at the apartment and led us up 5 floors! There was no lift. I had told them in advance that I had a broken ankle and needed to have a lift or a bottom floor, so they knew that would be hard for me to be on an upper floor, but did they care? NO! On top of that, the apartment looked NOTHING like the photos they put on Hotels.com.
So as soon as we got rid of the “greeter,” I called Hotels.com and complained about what was going on and asked them why they even allowed this place to list with them. Now this is why I really like Hotels.com. They refunded our payment!
We still didn’t like the apartment one bit, especially the 5 flights of steps but made due, partly because it was free and partly because it was a good location, very close to the subway.
Besides Madrid was magnificent so it kind of made us forget our crappy apartment except when we went home at night. Even then we went out to wonderful little restaurants in the neighborhood. To sum it up, Madrid was fantastic despite our apartment being horrible. But do yourself a favor and do not book a room in Apartamentos Camino del Prado!!!
As to where to stay, I still recommend going to Hotels.com and staying sort of in the center of the city. If you arrive by train, I would stay within a few miles of it, and best would be close to a subway station so you can get to all the sights easily.
So getting back to Madrid, what a beautiful place! First of all it has Angels all over it, so I was in love from the beginning. The architecture is stunning, very decorative, in the same way as Paris is.
Lots of Art Nouveau and decorative touches on all the buildings. Lots of greenery too, many parks around. I had no idea it would be so beautiful. This is the church across from the Royal Palace, the Almudenao Cathedral.
How to Get Around in Madrid
We ran into quite a few American students so I guess it’s a favorite of exchange students and students who want to study abroad. We didn’t do a tour bus this time, instead opting for my Google tours solution. I simply took a list of attractions from the tour books we had with us and “googled” them on Google maps and got the subway and bus routes to get to them on our own. It worked out just fine for us to see everything we wanted because Madrid has a great subway system. (Click the Google tours link to see how to do this.)
You can figure it out pretty easily even if you don’t speak any Spanish because all the routes are color coded and marked clearly in the stations, and the agents speak English too. So plan on using the buses and subways. Madrid is easy to get around in!
Here’s a closeup of the lamp post at the gate of the Royal Palace.
What to Do in Madrid; Madrid Sightseeing
Gran Vía, Madrid’s main boulevard
Museo del Prado
Plaza de Colon
Plaza de Cibeles
Plaza de Oriente
Plaza de España
Plaza de Toros las Ventas
Puerta del Sol
Jardines de Sabatini
Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande
Madrid Tapas Night Walking Tour
Despite it being January it was not that cold, so we enjoyed being out wandering around. I agree with all the travel books; don’t miss Madrid!
All Photos, © Heather Burns, All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy.