The final leg of my trip to Spain was a whirlwind, thirty-six hours spent in Madrid before we began the 6 and a half hour flight home.
We took the train in from Seville, dropping our luggage at the hotel and storing several of our friends' bags in our rooms because they were actually staying at a hotel closer to the airport so they could catch a super early flight. Then we stepped outside into the hustle and bustle of this new city. Below are five of the top things we discovered during more than forty miles of walking this amazing city.
1. Spanish Churros with Chocolate Sauce:
One of our first stops was to try out a delicious sweet treat one of the girl’s in our group insisted we hunt for, a Spanish churro with chocolate sauce. Even though we had been in Spain for more than a week, I had not realized this was something special. I have to admit, this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip (aside from the amazing Sangrias, see my Sangria blog past here…).
Yummo! I would definitely love to have discovered this sweet treat at the beginning of the trip. :)
2. El Retiro Park:
We had no clue we’d walked through this park on our first evening in Madrid. We were simply out walking around the city to see what we could see and found ourselves following the view. This led us around some incredible paths that opened up to many beautiful gardens, fanciful fountains, and the grandeur of the Grand Pond. It wasn’t until we had returned home that we found out we’d just walked through a wonderland that was once considered royal property until it had been opened to the public at the end of the 19th century.
3. Royal Palace:
It was long after dark when a friend and I stumbled upon the Royal Palace. Our other travel companions had long since headed off to their hotels, but we couldn’t turn in with so little time left in this city. So we kept walking. I was surprised when we stumbled upon the Royal Palace. The beautiful building was lit up and incredibly enticing. It was also closed… We made a point to come back the next morning to take a tour of what we learned was the largest royal palace in western Europe
We were not able to take photos inside, except for a few specific areas. But after experiencing the amazing paintings and various brilliant collections, it is definitely a must do for anyone who finds themselves in this incredible city.
4. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium:
One of my co-workers really wanted to see this stadium. Since it was on the bus tour we decided to take, we figured why not. Again, I had no clue what I might have missed out on. Home of the Real Madrid, Europe’s most successful football team, this 85,000 seat stadium was breathtaking. We were able to look around the players locker room, check out their training area, sit and drink a beer in the stadium seats, and even sit in the players seats along the sidelines of the field. I bought a jersey for my son in the gift shop and had no clue that I had just made his day. He was a huge fan and knew exactly how lucky I had been to see this site (even if I still had not clue).
5. City Tour Madrid - a hop-on-hop-off bus tour:
This was my first ever bus tour and I was instantly hooked. There is no way we would have been able to see a fraction of the items we saw in our short thirty-six hours if it was not for this tour. With two different routes that we were able to access at any time throughout our day, we saw a large part of the City’s history and culture along approximately thirty-seven stops. One route was for Old Madrid, the other for New Madrid. We ended up riding the bus for all of both routes. (And that was in addition to the 40 plus miles we walked in between the stops.)
Although we didn’t have time for any of the museums or shopping areas due to wanting to see a few key items on our list, we did see different places along the bus tour that will be added for any future trips.
Plus, bonus for us, the bus had free wifi for those who had purchased the ticket for the day (or two, depending upon how long you wanted to stay). This allowed me to catch up with my son back home and we were able to do some searches for different places around the city (including food stops!). AND we ended up using the bus and the various stops to get us from one end of the city, to the other. Much cheaper than what some of our co-workers spent on taxis to get to the exact same places that we ended up.
(Side note - I have since taken one of these hop-on-hop-off bus tours in most of the international venues I have visited. LOVE THEM!)
Bonus #6. Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas Madrid:
I featured this in my blog post for the three Bull Fighting Rings I visited while in Spain. But I have to highlight it again here. Even if you are not a fan of the sport, seeing the history of something so heavily treasured in this country was eye opening. I had no idea these athletes were indeed athletes until I took these tours. I am amazed at where the sport began in its infancy and how it has evolved through the years.
That was honestly am amazing top five (six with the bonus). We walked a little over forty miles in those thirty-six hours. While in Spain, I ate some incredible food, drank some amazing wine (Sangrias), and I was introduced to a whole new world. I can only hope that you get to see and feel some of these same things in your lifetime!
If you enjoyed this post about my tour of Madrid Spain, check out my other Spain posts:
And check out my YouTube Tour of Spain: