I didn’t enjoy the afternoon as much as I did the morning. I could feel a migraine beginning to hit thanks to heavy traffic fumes and what seemed like every 3rd doorway someone was standing outside smoking. I kept my water intake up as much as possible, but it still hit. Walking up and down endless Metro stairs a few hours later felt like my brain was rattling around with a little wave of nausea each time. I’m sure my resting bitch face was in full overdrive. My camera battery had died after Templo de Debod so I wasn’t able to get shots I wanted with my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful of my iPhone’s camera, I just knew they weren’t going to be how I wanted.
Hungry after Templo de Debod, an Egyptian tomb found in the heart of Madrid, our next mission was finding somewhere to eat. Hungry tummies however had to wait as the Palace Real and the Jardins de Sabatini were a only a short walk away.
Parque de la Montaña where you can find Templo de Debod
The gardens were up first and you could imagine ladies back in the day walking around them in all their finery, sitting reading, playing hide and seek or whatever they did back then. The maze like bushes I can only imagine how impressive they are in Spring and Summer when they’re in full bloom.
The palace initially was disappointing. It looked so dirty (P mentioned that he’d read the royal family prefer a more modest palace on the outskirts of Madrid. Is that where all the money goes?) compared to Buckingham Palace. Sticking our noses through the gates, it became obvious this was the back of the place.
Making our way to the main entrance it became clear the palace is massive! Seriously massive! I really wanted to explore the courtyard’s picturesque arches, however the queue was quite long and hungry tummies were calling. P noticed that between I think 15-17.00 is free entrance but we skipped. We didn’t want to wait an hour or make our way back in a hour, so I had to make do with again sticking my nose, okay camera through gates.
The royal cathedral or Santa Maria de Real de la Almudena´s opposite. The royals just had to roll out of bed and voila attending mass.
Peeking though more gates looking out to Casa de Campo.
P had found on Happy Cow a Fresco & Co buffet restaurant that has branches all over Spain (several in Barcelona) so we knew we’d be okay for lunch. Being vegan in a country that loves its jamon can make eating out a challenge. I think it was only 2km away and though we could have taken the metro, we’d hit the main old town aka tourist high street so we walked.
Yay for vegan ice cream aka sorbet, so we can do what all tourist do, helados!
Walking and sitting eating ice sorbet in Plaza Mayor.
Bear and a strawberry tree/bush, Madrid coat of arms. The bear’s tail and hind leg are worn from people touching them. No idea if it’s done for luck or reassurance, but I did the same. The statue’s found in Pureta de Sol, where the main Spanish televised New Year Countdown’s held. It looked kinda small in real life.
Over lunch we loosely planned how to spend the next few hours. A little shopping! One guide mentioned the best shopping area was around Calle Serrano. If you’re into designer shops, this is the area. Kinda like Knightsbridge. We briefly explored it by trying to find a Metro back to Gran Via. Except every metro we found, the stop we wanted to get off was closed for refurbishment! Finally we found walking several blocks up or down (migraine had set in. I was like a kid who didn’t want to do anything. Sorry P for whinging!) a metro that took us to somewhere near Gran Via where if I thought daytime was busy, that was nothing compared to the evening crowds.
I hadn’t seen or been around so many people since Oxford Street during the sales so for me it got claustrophobic wth my migraine pretty quickly. The idea of shopping has wearing off and with hungry tummies again we decided to find someplace to eat before making our to Atocha train station.
Evening, Puerta del Sol
Somewhere along the way we had issues buying a metro ticket. I can’t remember the exact details. I think we initially got a 10 journey pass and do what we do in Barcelona. One uses it, gives it to the other, no probs through the gates. Madrid gates wouldn’t let us (finding a ticket booth that was taking a credit card was a mission in itself). I ended up being one side of the gates while P purchased a single. I think we then purchased 2 tourist passes which were a blessing later.
Probably we should have ventured away from what we knew and tried something Madrid had to offer. Bacoa, a favourite burger chain in Barcelona has a branch in Madrid near Puerta del Sol. Weary feet and legs talking loudly, we didn’t to walk around trying to find somewhere! Bacoa do a mean veggie burger, their fries are nearly always the bomb, burgers help with migraines and they do 0.0% beer! Sorted!
Saying our goodbyes to Madrid making our way back to Atocha train station the tourist metro tickets paid off. The stop we needed for Atocha was closed for refurbishment. Realising this and time ticking I asked a Metro inspector who saved the day by noticing we had them. Our only other options were taxi (traffic and money) or the non metro train. We wouldn’t have had time to queue for a ticket and catch the train. The tourist pass allowed metro and train journeys. Yay!
We made the fast train back with few minutes to spare. Travelling with me you cut it fine! I think we pulled into Barcelona around midnight. I’ve no idea how those who commute everyday do it. The train was delayed on the line back and if you caught the 05.50 train like we did to be in for 09.00, get the 21.00 back to get back for midnight, then the trip back home to do it all again the next day I wanna know their secret!
Like to be a little adventurous eating travelling, stick to what you know or go full out try everything?!