Do you remember, way back in September, we ran an awesome +1 competition on our Google Plus page? We offered you a unique opportunity to win a €500 travel voucher and all you had to do was tell us who your +1 was. Many, maaany of you did, but as with most competitions, there could only be one winner. The lucky one was Melda Eren. Melda and her +1 went to visit a place that had been on their travel list for a long time – Madrid. You can read all about her Spanish adventures right here.
Travelling to Madrid has been on our list for a long time. Especially, since I have never been to Spain before. The trip was planned and the flight was booked when we came across the Easytobook competition. Thanks to Easytobook our five days in Madrid were a lot fancier than expected…
After a 4,5h flight from Istanbul and a quick ride with the metro we arrived at our hotel H10 Villa de la Reina in the Gran Via. With a metro station almost directly in front of the hotel and in walking distance to Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Retiro Park and the museums, we couldn’t have asked for a more central location.
The view of Gran Via from our window was great; you could see the liveliness of the city at any hour of the day. The hotel itself was very nice too, clean rooms with a comfortable bed and bathtub and a nice staff.
The public transport system in Madrid is very good, you can reach almost everywhere in the city by metro, with trains going every 3-8 minutes. We did use the metro now and then, but since we did most our sightseeing by foot, we didn’t buy the 3 day ticket.
Madrid offers a huge variety of museums, the most famous of course being Reina Sofía, Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza, but we started our cultural journey with a visit to Circulo de Bellas Artes. This place consists of a café/restaurant in the ground floor, changing exhibitions, and a terrace with an amazing view. To enter the restaurant you need to pay 1€, another one for the exhibitions and a third one for the terrace. The view is definitely worth the 3€.
Another “museum” we can recommend: Museo Chicote, a cocktail bar close to our hotel, offers great cocktails, a nice atmosphere and the knowledge that the likes of Salvador Dalí, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Hemingway have enjoyed their cocktails here since 1931.
Besides the museums the other big thing to do in Madrid is eat. And eat we did. Every day we were in at least one tapas bar. One of the most interesting ones is located in Chueca. Devoted to Javier Bardem, the walls of Bardemcilla are full of his pictures and movie posters while the menu is full of dishes inspired by his movies, like the croquetas “jamón jamón”. We only had tapas but you could also go there for dinner.
A little more touristic but still a nice experience, was eating in the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino de Botín, open since 1725.
We also recommend the famous Chocolatería San Ginés, where you can come literally all day and night to enjoy Churros con Chocolate.
The Retiro Park is a perfect place to rest after all the museums and eating. We had a long walk and also rented a rowboat on the lake there. Close to the Retiro Park is the CaixaForum with its vertical garden; which is literally a vertical garden, and definitely worth seeing.
Another opportunity to leave the rush of the city behind for a few hours is the cable car which starts at the Paseo de Pintor Rosales and takes you to the huge park/wilderness area Casa Campo. During the 20 minute ride an audiotape, which is also available in English, tells you about the sights viewable from the cable car, like the Palacio Real, the cathedral de la Almudena and the river Manzanares. Avoid the mistake we did and check the changing opening hours of the cable car. We took the last ride and had to walk back to Madrid by foot.
Since my +1 speaks a little Spanish (enough to order food) I can not say anything about your survival chances with just English, but most of the people we met were happy to see a tourist (at least trying to) speak their language.
We sacrificed one day of our trip to go to Toledo, which is a 30 minutes train ride away from the Atocha train station. When you step out in Toledo you don’t feel like you took the train but a time machine back to the times of Don Quijote. Toledo was a nice day trip and especially worth it if you like marzipan.
All in all we had a great time in Madrid and Toledo, and even greater thanks to Easytobook!
Thanks a lot Melda for sharing your Madrid experience with all of us!
Do YOU want to be our next winner? Keep an eye out for new competitions. Hasta la próxima!