Our last four nights were spent in the big city of Madrid. When I say big city, I mean it. Madrid has a population over 3 million with Metropolitan area including 6 million people. The climate is a lot different from Malaga and Cordoba as well. The temperature was 10-15 degrees lower and hovered around 10 degrees Celcius for our time there. We had brought appropriate clothing and were expecting that. By the time we reached Madrid we were kind of sick eating out every meal so took full advantage of the small "efficiency unit" in our hotel room. It had a minifridge, two burners, a pot, a pan, two bowls, two plates and some cutlery. With that we had all our breakfasts in which included croissants, fried chorizo, scrambled eggs, yogurt and fruit. We also had a huge craving for fruit and veggies so made sure to hit up the fruiteria that was just around the corner from our hotel. There were 2 grocery stores within a block as well.
Some of the highlights we saw in Madrid were the Royal Palace (10 Euro pp)and the Almudena Cathedral (free to see inside the Church, 6 Euro pp to climb to the top for great views of Madrid and to see the Cathedral Museum). After the recent bombing of the Brussels Airport most European countries were on high security alert. Spain was no exception although we only saw a heavy police presence around the Mezquita in Cordoba and in several spots in Madrid, heaviest being the Palace.
|Royal Palace of Madrid|
|Cops on horses at Royal Palace|
|View of Palace from top of Almudena Cathedral|
|Extra security at the Royal Palace where Changing of the Guards takes place|
|View of Madrid from Almudena Cathedral|
One of my favorite things we did in Madrid was go to the El Rastro flea market which is held in the La Latina neighborhood which was easily reachable by the Madrid Metro (1.30 Euro per person per ride). It is held year round every Sunday and has been going since the 16th century. I was hesitant to go as hate large crowds but even though it was a rainy cold day we had a great time there people watching and bargain hunting. We didn't buy much, some souvenirs for the kids and a scarf for myself, but it was a great free way to spend the day. Thousands attend this market every Sunday but if you end up in Madrid and you can't attend on Sunday this neighborhood is packed full of funky antique and curiosity shops. You can buy anything from car parts to paella pans to antique art there.
|El Rastro Flea Market|
|El Rastro Flea Market|
Sercotel Viena Suites. The rates nearly double that if booked a couple of weeks out. In an extremely noisy city our hotel ended up being a quiet oasis and we were shocked at how we heard no traffic noise when one of the busiest streets in Madrid was 2 blocks away.
Another favorite find in Madrid was the Cerralbo Museum (3 Euro each). The Marquis Cerralbo lived in this mansion and collected art, furniture, and archaeological finds. He left his home and contents to Spain and it is now a museum. Unlike many other mansions/palaces this one contains all the objects originally within it. The National Palace actually was not even comparable to the objects inside to this small museum, which happened to be just around the corner from our hotel.
|Cerralbo Museum - armor room|
|Cerralbo Museum Roman statue and 16th century boar|
I have a lot more pictures to share but will do so among regular posts over the next month. We had a fabulous time and we got a great taste of Spain although there are other different sides of Spain yet to be explored as it is a large country with many different cultures and even other languages. I would recommend it in a heartbeat and hope to go back some day. I loved Malaga but Cordoba was quite magical with its historic buildings and orange trees and it was the trip favorite for both of us.