The joys of retirement – a trip away without too much preamble!
Flew into Madrid on the VERY EARLY Ryanair flight on Monday morning. The assistance at the airport is brilliant especially as Ryanair gates seem to be at the furthest end of every airport! The plan was for a restful break, a little bit of sightseeing, some retail therapy and nice food and wine! We were armed with some recommendations from a previous resident of Madrid, which is always helpful.
Our hotel, the Petit Palace Hotel in Plaza del Carmen was a find – really central (close to Sol which is the main centre and from which many streets radiate with plenty of shops and bars and restaurants) with lovely staff, a nice sized room with a balcony overlooking the plaza.
We did some unpacking on arrival, before hitting out for a look around. I was particularly fascinated by the clear blue skies – not a cloud – and as we were staying in Old Madrid, some gorgeous architecture.
We allocated Tuesday to city sightseeing. The hop-on-hop-off bus is a super way of seeing the city and it allows for stopping at the sites that interest you most. We hadn’t factored in that this was Easter holidays and a major event on Madrid’s calendar, so there were lots of queues. We were quite happy to sit in gardens and read about what was inside!!! A return visit at a quieter time to explore these culture areas.
Unfortunately Retiro Park was closed due to a tragedy and it would have been great to get in there as there is usually daily entertainment.
We opted for the Templo de Debod instead – a haven of tranquillity in a busy city. We were only sorry we hadn’t a picnic but found a lovely restaurant nearby for a bit of lunch.
A plate of seafood paella is a must in Spain! Although Madrid is located in the centre of the country we were assured that the fish is brought in daily from the Northern coast.
We arrived back in Sol and found ourselves in the middle of Argentinian celebrations – before a friendly football match planned for the evening. Very colourful and cheery.
It’s always nice to see somewhere outside the city, so we headed for Toledo on Wednesday. Really impressive and worth the trip. The tourist Office recommended an audio visual presentaion, “Toledo in Motion” as a quick and easy way to get an idea of the history of what was the capital city of Spain and is now a UNESCO site.
It was great to sample the Toledo speciality dish, “DEER BURGER” and a pitcher of Sangria as we sat on a terrace overlooking the city.
We took the metro back to Sol, again the centre of celebrations. This time is was the passion procession – hundreds of people were gathered to view the procession of bands behind the cross, a very joyful approach to the Passion and the reason so many Spaniards were in the city this week! We did not realise the celebrations would continue well into the night- our room gave us a prime viewing platform.
Retail therapy up around Grand Via was planned for Thursday and we arrived back to the hotel with our purchases, hoping they would all fit into the cases going home!!!! We booked a really nice restaurant, Casa Alberta, reputedly where Cervantes completed Don Quixote for that evening, a really atmospheric old restaurant with great food, accompanied of course by a bottle of Rioja!!!! Had a vino in Plaza Santa Ana on way home – coolish so glad there was a heater!
Case packing on Friday morning before we went out for breakfast. We obviously made a good impression on our waiter as he treated us to a glass of champagne. A nice finish to a lovely break!