Madrid Trip Report

Jan 18th, 2006, 06:01 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 184
Madrid Trip Report

We went to Madrid for four days at the end of December...and what a trip it was! We tried to fit everything we wanted to do into the four days, and were pretty successful (and very tired!)

We arrived at the airport on Day 1, got all our stuff - and then the taxi driver wanted to charge us double for having suitcases. So we took the aeroshuttle instead. We had to wait about 20 minutes, but we saved about $40! We took the aeroshuttle on the way back to the airport too, and I would definately recommend it.

We had planned to do the Royal Palace on our first afternoon, but since our flight had been delayed 3 hours at takeoff, we didn't get there on time. We had about an hour until closing, so we went to a free art exhibit the castle was hosting, which was great. We spent the evening wandering around town, seeing the sights and squares - and collapsed into bed at 10:00! (we had been up for about a day and a half at this point!) Thanks to jetlag, I was up at 12...

We stayed in the Hotel Intur Palacio San Martin (as recommended by fellow fodorites!) and it was wonderful! The rooms were clean and charming - we requested a balcony, which we got. That was fun, even though it was freezing outside! The staff was really nice and very helpful. The only thing I would say was maybe a negative, was that the room was a bit small - but it didn't bother us at all.

Day 2 was our "Madrid Day." We started early in the morning with a tour of the Bull Ring. It's such a beautiful building! Then we went to the Royal Palace - definately a highlight. The rooms were gorgeous! And they had all kinds of poisons in the apothacary, if you looked closely Then we went to the "Museo del Traje" - a must for anyone with an interest in costumes and fashion. It was pretty hard to find, but the nice Metro man actually took us outside and showed us how to go! And finally, we went to the Prado. Luckily for us, it was open late that night! "Las Meninas" was incredible. What a painting!

We had been planning to take taxis, since our schedule was so tight, but it ended up being easier to just take the Metro - once we figured out how it worked.

At night, we decided to go to a Flamenco show. The hotel made reservations for us at a place recommended in a certain guidebook as "the place where the locals go." So...we thought that would be cooler. Frankly, we were disappointed - it was crowded and we couln't really see the dancers feet...which kinda defeats the purpose of Flamenco! Next time, I think I'd stick with the "touristy" places!

We tumbled into bed at 2 AM for a blissful night's sleep - with no jetlag! Yay! So THAT's the trick!

Day 3 - we woke up to a grey, rainy, cold morning. We had planned to go to Segovia, but we didn't want to be outside all day in that weather, so we decided to go to the castle of "Manzanares el Real" instead. We got to the bus station, and culdn't find te bus! We went up and down the rows until we found it - with 5 minutes to spare! It was an easy one-hour bus ride from Madrid. The ride was pretty - we were going up into the hills, before the snow-covered mountains. And it started clearing up! The castle was a gem - we truly enjoyed it. We must have taken 100 pictures of the place! (It's dangerous to give me a digital camera...)

When we finished, it was nice and sunny, and it was only about 11:30, so...we decided to go to Segovia too! We had to go back to Madrid, and then take the bus to Segovia.
But first...we had to FIND the bus to Segovia! We bought our ticket and had about 2 minutes to spare. So we were running all over, back and forth tryng to figure out which bus it was. By the time we finally found it - all the way at the end of the station - the bus driver was sitting there laughing at us! we were laughing too.

Segovia was amazing - that was my friend's favorite part of the trip! First we saw the aqueduct - it's massive! Then, we walked across town to the Alcazar (I have a thing for castles, in case you couldn't tell!) This Alcazar was incredible! It's an amazing mix of Mudejar (Moorish/Arabic) and European styles. Isabel was born, and I believe crowned, here.

First we did the climb up to the tower - 152 steps! But what a view! Then we walked around the castle. The carvings on the walls and ceilings were exquisite - I have never seen anything like it!

On day 4, we went to Toledo. We had a great time! I bought all my presents there We had a little trouble finding the bus - the central bus station was kind of confusing, but eventually we found it. We had one minute to get to the bus, so we RAN! (this was a familiar feeling by now!) We took the bus to Toledo, and then walked into the Old City, because I wanted to walk through the Bisagra Gate. (There is also a bus you can take) What a sight - it's HUGE! We got a little lost walking, but since you can see the walls from the bus station, we just kept walking towards them, and it was fine. We walked all over town. We saw the Alcazar - it's unbelievably massive! You can't go inside at the present momment. We went to the 2 synogogues, El Transito and Synogoga Santa Maria La Blanca - both very beautiful. I have to say, I was a little disappointed in the tour guide in Santa Maria La Blanca. He wasn't our tour guide - but he was speaking in English, so we were listening in. He mentioned how in 13-- (I forget the date) the Jews left the synogogue, and the Christians took it over. He neglected to mention that the Jews were forcibly evicted, and thrown out. Made it sound like they just decided it was time for a change...anyway - getting back to Toledo...We spent the rest of our time walking around and doing lots of shopping! I love old medieval towns with little streets and alleyways, and Toledo was a perfect example! Also highly recommended!

We took the bus from the main square to the bus station, and from there back to Toledo.

We had checked out of the hotel earlier, but they allowed us to keep our stuff in their luggage room, so we went back to wait for our shuttle. We sat for awhile (that felt good!), wrote some postcards, and then ... it was off to the airport!

We so enjoyed our trip - I can't think of anything we did that I would NOT recommend - except maybe the Flamenco show!
chanad is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2006, 03:01 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 156
Hi--thanks for posting your trip report. I'm going to be in Madrid this April, and I am debating whether to book at the Intur Palacio or not. It will be about $150 (US dollars)/night... did you spend that much? I am just trying to make sure I'm not overspending.
youngandrestless is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2006, 03:13 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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We stayed in the Intur Palacio in October and I think that is about what we paid. It is a nice hotel and well located. I would recommend it.

Chanad, I think a day is about right for staying in Segovia. We were there for two nights and it was a night too many for us. We loved Salamanca however and were there for three nights.

I'm glad you had a good time in Madrid.
Judi is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2006, 03:23 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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Sounds like you had a great trip, thanks for posting such a detailed trip report
TexasAggie is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks for posting. I too love Segovia and Toledo. You must live in Europe to be able to take such a trip for such a short time. Lucky you!
artlover is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2006, 02:13 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Judi--thanks for the thumbs up. I did book it yesterday as most of the other nice looking hotels are even more pricey, and the rates will only go up! I'm looking forward to staying there, it seems that everyone comments on how convenient the location is, and I don't hear any complaints about the rooms,etc.
youngandrestless is offline  
Mar 27th, 2006, 02:34 PM
  #7  
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Decent hotels in Madrid seem to be on the expensive side. I would recommend the Intur Palacio for that price. I thin we paid around that - call them and ask if you can get a room with a balcony and a view onto the square. If they say they don't have any left, make sure to ask them to give it to you if someone cancels one of those rooms. Have a great trip!

Artlover: I wish I live in the USA...we were actually on a small stopover, which is why we only had 4 days.
chanad is offline  
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