Centro District, Madrid, Spain
Early AM, August 23
We started the day with a quick walk to the nearby tower and walked up as high as possible, where we could see the river and the oldest metal bridge in Europe.
Then it was off to catch the fast (AVE) train to Madrid…only a 2.5 hour ride and a very pleasant one. The Seville train station was quiet, but the Madrid station was huge and busy.
We caught taxis to our hotel (which is on a pedestrian street, so we had to walk a few blocks with our luggage.). Each apartment has been a bit smaller than the last…this one has one bedroom with no window and one which literally fits 2 twin beds (has a window though) and nothing else, no closet, no room to walk from one bed to the next (crawling over the first bed is recommended) and the smallest half bath we’ve seen! With only one full bathroom (and a small one at that) we have to organize a bathroom schedule…feels a bit like the Big Bang Theory! However, it’s clean, has a kitchen, AC and a washer and the location is perfect, walking distance to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and Retiro Park and the Prado.
After getting situated we walked to the Royal Palace and the church next door, the Almudena Cathedral. We first went to the Cathedral which was beautiful, especially the painted ceilings. It was only finished in 1993, and though originally designed to be Gothic in style ended up in a more simple Baroque style to blend with the Palace next door.
Next we visited the huge Royal Castle, and walked around the entire ground floor…..there was one room entirely made of porcelain, and one that was so ornately decorated it took over 50 years to complete. The chandeliers were magnificent and there is even a beautiful chapel in the church, which has a very high ceiling, ornately painted. The palace is home to the Royal kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII. It was built somewhat along the lines of Versailles in the 1700s and has over 3000 rooms.
We had dinner on the way back (again early for Madrid, only 8:00 or so) and when we finished, the plazas which were so sleepy and empty hours earlier were bursting with people and music. We hit the grocery store, barely arriving by its 10pm close and returned to our apartment.