12 Hours In Madrid Part 1

A few weeks ago we spent the day in Madrid. My one day holiday vaccay this year. With 2 cats both on medicine twice a day it’s tricky to escape somewhere. While I’m fine with friends looking after them when I’m away, administering medicine, is different. It’s something I’m okay with and have accepted as those 2 mean so much to me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I still don’t know how I got ready in just over an hour. We decided to take the train as it was slightly cheaper and quicker than flying from Barcelona. While the flight’s only about 30 minutes, that’s not including getting to the airport, waiting and getting into Madrid´s centre. The train takes about 2.5-3 hours and drops you off in the heart of Madrid. The seats as I discovered are way comfier with plugs for your various devices. Our train was at 05.50 so we had to be up bright and early.img_4498

Except I overslept and had just over an hour to get ready in. Thankfully I’d packed my bag the night before and sorted out my outfit (just as well I liked it the next day. No time to change!). I went for comfy: leggings, white and blue striped top, long cardigan, khaki coat, trainers. The weather was to be variable. 12C degrees when we got there, 24C by 2pm so I wanted layers that were lightweight yet cool and warm and that I was comfortable in without keep tugging at it. Somehow I managed to shower, drink hot lemon and a cup of tea, oil pull (in the shower and while getting ready) eat breakfast (okay while doing my makeup), find time for 10 minutes yoga, feed the cats and be on time for the taxi. It took some tactics, make cup of tea and porridge 1o minutes in advance so they’d be cool enough to down. When the chips are down a girls gotta do what a girl gotta do!

P had been to Madrid the week before to collect a work visa for his current boat and as neither of us had been before he suggested going for one day. Upon entering Estacio de Sants I commented it’s just like an airport as it was so early the shops were shut. He said it nearly is. Bags have to be scanned and tickets scanned before boarding (not in Madrid) with no body scans. All aboard, with about 3 hours travel we kinda stood out as tourists. Most were in suits and a few ladies were doing their make up. I ended up sleeping while P watched a movie on his iPad. And just like some planes a stewardess came around offering earphones for any who wanted to watch the on board movie.

There are 2 of these baby heads outside estacion de Atocha. Kinda freaky.img_4509-1

We pulled into Madrid a little before sunrise and it was cold! Making our way through the station in search of green tea, I’d read earlier that there was a rainforest in station. That we had to find! The station is spilt in 2 and we ended up crossing the road to the other part in search of trees and tea. For perhaps the first time in a long time we or rather I was too early. The main access was roped off, however we could still walk around admiring the greenery and turtles.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With about 12 hours to explore and no set intinery, there were a few things I/we wanted to see. P had been to Parque de Buen Retiro the week before and looking online I wanted to go,  was our first destination. We figured go early when there were few people. The only other places I wanted to visit were the Egyptian Tomb or Templo de Debod and check out Miin’s Madrid store if we found it.

Minsterio de Agricultura outside the station. A lot of Madrid’s architecture reminded me of Athens.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With a cup of nasty green tea in hand we made our way to Parque de Buen Retiro as it’s quite close to Atocha station. I didn’t realise that Madrid is so hilly! If you walk it, wear comfy shoes! We walked about 12km (thanks to Charitymiles for the mileage) in total.

Too early for pigeonsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another thing I noticed or felt apart from the hills was the feeling of space. You could feel Madrid’s a big city. Not just in the park, even in the city centre. Barcelona’s quite big, but you can easily cycle Diagonal Mar that links diagonally 2 opposite ends of the city in about 50 minutes. I don’t think you could in Madrid. The park so early was heavenly. I don’t get to feel ‘outside early’ much and loved that early morning buzz and the autumn foliage. Barcelona’s mostly palm trees and plane trees with little change of colours (late december it starts) so I soaked up as much as possible the colours. P even potted a green woodpecker!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We didn’t find the crystal palace but then we didn’t really go looking for it. We made our way to Retiro Pond/Lake to the monument to King Alfonso XII passing cat colony along the way. Their human cat lady or cat man had been and they were happily tucking nosily in to pienso.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The park’s quite clean which was the last of feeling clean. When I first arrived in Barcelona they smoked like chimneys. Over the years it’s decreased to the point you hardy see people smoking. Madrid’s different. So many people outside smoking and combined with the exhaust fumes (I don’t think they’ve pedestrianised it much) I got a migraine by early afternoon. I made sure I kept my water intake up (and also didn’t realise how much I pee. Neither of us did when you haven’t got immediate access to a bathroom!) but it still hit.


Breakfast at the monumentOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Getting hungry leaving the park we decided to find somewhere to eat on the way to Templo de Debod, that I only remembered about having seen a sphinx like statue in the park. P found on Happy Cow a few places that were open so we to make a detour to the tomb. We ended up in DelliCare for brunch: avocado toast and a ginger shot before finding out Miin was just down the road. So obviously I, we, had to go!

In awareness of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month all over the city were pink glass recycle bins. In pairs. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



After my Miin fix heading to the tomb we came across a cute juice and bagel bar Juicy Avenue. Still hungry after the avocado toast we went for peanut butter bagels which were amazing! You’ve no idea how hard it is to find bagels in Barcelona! We were going to save the bagels for later however upon realising they were warm they didn’t last long!


Side streets and alleys on the way to Templo de DebodOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A very Barcelona looking facade nestled in between more traditional old town facades (very similar facades in Barcelona).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks to TomTom it was quite easy to navigate around and we didn’t look like tourists apart as most people were on their phones. Whenever I see someone with a paper map in Barcelona they stand out. I relied on P’s TomTom directions! I kinda prefer paper maps or a screen shot of Google maps but it’s easier not get lost following TomTom’s arrow.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan you believe part of this building’s abandoned? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASame building from Plaza Espana which was holding a competition choosing a new park design as submitted by local architect companies. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got to the tomb around 1pm when my camera’s battery started giving me flashing warning signs. Too much use so I’ll leave you for now!

To be continued… part 2

Have you ever been to Madrid? How did you get around, metro, taxi or walking?



  1. […] 1, 2 and 3 I wasn’t happy with their direction and wrote them kinda robotically  and should […]

  2. […] 1 and 2 can be found here and […]

  3. says:

    Very fascinating travelogue Natalie.. Amazing what you can cover with a pair of walking shoes, and having no set intinery would have made it that much more fun and adventuresome.

    Other than the occasional subway ride when I am in Toronto, it has been decades since I have ridden an actual train, which was my favourite way to travel. Most of the train tracks have been ripped up in my area. They are not multi use recreational trails, great for running or cycling, but I also do miss the trains. So cool that overall the train was cheaper and quicker than a plane.

    Some of the architecture of Madrid is absolutely amazing. The craftsmanship is incredible, and to think it has withstood centuries of time. Love the park with the canopy of trees turning colour. So wonderful to have the greenspaces in the city.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. says:

      It was the first time on train train in ages for me too! I occasionally take the metro, but prefer to cycle everywhere.
      We usually explore with no set intinery. We have an idea, but there are always alley ways, ‘what’s over there’s, where does that go’ to explore!
      While it was cheaper by train, I was surprised how much train tickets cost. They’re not cheap long distance! I’m so used to Metro prices.
      There’s more architecture to come! The afternoon we walked through part of the old town, similar in style to Barcelona (I’m gonna be biased, I prefer the architecture here) which I should be posting soon. You’ll find a lot of the ciutat vella’s (old town in Catalan) throughout Southern Europe (Spain, South of France and Italy) have very similar architectural styles. Sometimes I get confused, am I in France, Spain or Italy!
      Thank you for reading and have a great week!

      1. says:

        Yeah, more architecture to come. I’ll check out your other posts.
        Yes the cost of long distance trains have gotten out of reach price wise in Canada.

      2. says:

        And in the UK too. Where my parents live, if you book 3 months in advance the journey to London’s about 20 pounds. On the day 80!

  4. […] Though we were only 12 hours in Madrid playing tourist, I took enough photos to have been playing tourist for a week. Part 1 can be found here.  […]

  5. says:

    Love the boobs haha!

    I have been to Madrid but not as much as I should. My proper visit to the city was when I took C. there on his first trip to Spain! We were in all the places you have shown until now (well, not the shops xD).

    1. says:

      Me too! They were all over the city, but only in one in one bin size (I know, bad joke). It was my first time and probably only time in Madrid. I didn’t like it as much as here. Much more dirtier.
      To be honest we didn’t really do any shopping. Just Miin. We went down Gran Via late afternoon and it was packed. The atmosphere had changed too from when we cut across it earlier. I’m glad we went though. After years here it was time I saw the ‘capital’ 🙂

  6. says:

    What a beautiful and historic city.

    1. says:

      There’s more! I took so many photos I’m having to spilt it up into 4 parts. I was only there for 12 hours!
      And yes it’s a beautiful and historic city. Just too polluted for me.

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