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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 pigeons
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!
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.
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.
Monument to King Alfonso XII
Breakfast at the monument
Pigeons awake and bathing
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.
Puerta de Alcala
Walking to Templo de Debod
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 Debod
A very Barcelona looking facade nestled in between more traditional old town facades (very similar facades in Barcelona).
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.Can you believe part of this building’s abandoned? Same building from Plaza Espana which was holding a competition choosing a new park design as submitted by local architect companies.
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?