March 6, 2024

We arrived at the Madrid Airport (MAD) in the morning. Jen had arrived a few hours earlier, but we caught up with her and hopped in a taxi to our Airbnb near Puerta del Sol, which was already ready for us.

The Airbnb was just about perfect, once we got all the radiators running. It was cold inside but the bedrooms, living room, bathrooms, and kitchen were nice, clean, and well-equipped.

We later washed our clothes in the washer, but the dryer didn’t work so we used the drying rack and radiators to dry items one by one.

We walked in the sunshine to Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol and dropped in the Apple Store to have them help me get the eSIMS on the phones set up correctly.

After a rest at our place, we set out for dinner at nearby Tapa Tapa. We sampled about 8 different little plates of peppers, garlic shrimp, Spanish Tortilla, cheese croquettes, and teriyaki chicken skewers.

We were still feeling awake so we took a walk back to Puerto del Sol and did some shopping at Mango and El Corte Ingles. We picked up raspberries, a hair mouse, and wine.

Back at the apartment, we all fell asleep and miraculously slept till 10 and 11 am.

March 7, 2024

Having slept through breakfast, we snacked in the apartment and had some tea. We got ready and took a taxi to Retiro Park. We had a lovely walk and admired the trees, plants, boating pond, and flowers. We walked to the Arch at Cebelis, trying to find a café mentioned on Instagram. We could not locate it.

We walked back to the Prado Museum, visited the gift shop, and ate lunch in the cafeteria.

We pretty much conquered the Prado, seeing all three floors and art by Goya, Reubens, Sorolla, Picasso, Ribera, and Veláquez. It had started to rain as expected so we took a taxi back to our place and enjoyed the time to rest, and have a cocktail, and I started to write this blog entry.

March 8, 2024

This morning was a bit of a mess. I purposely hadn’t booked a train for us to go to Toledo, so we could go when we were ready, but when we got to the train station by taxi, we couldn’t buy tickets without our passports, which we didn’t have with us. My bad. We returned to our neighborhood, ate breakfast at a cafe, and returned to the apartment to regroup. I bought tickets to the Royal Palace for Sunday afternoon, which we would see after we visited the Rastro Market.

I finally got train tickets to Toledo tomorrow. I spent a lot of time on the Renfe train website selecting the right trains and then typing in our names and passport information, only to be informed that one part of the journey was already sold out so I had to start over typing in names and passport information with a new train selection.

We decided to see the final two museums on our pre-paid ticket, but Mom was worn out and didn’t feel great. She stayed home to rest while Jen and I visited the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, took a break at a café, and then walked to the Reina Sofia Museum.

We walked back by El Corte Ingles for groceries then walked back to the apartment for a beverage and cheese. Later we went out for dinner in Las Letras at a cool place with wood-fired oven pizza.

March 9, 2024

Today was our take two on Toledo, this time with pre-paid train tickets. We took a taxi to the train station and found our train. We were on coach 12 with reserved seats. There was a lot of confusion as to which was Coach 12 and which was Coach 2. People were already in our seats but the train was about to depart, so we took three empty seats and made the 36-minute journey to Toledo.

We arrived in the sharp windy cold rain but purchased our tour bus tickets and got on the bus which took us around the city for views, then to the square where we joined up with our walking tour guide. She was adorable and we got the lay of the land and visited the museum, the cathedral, the Jewish Quarter, and the Moorish square. We had a nice lunch and visited the shops. We made a last dash for the hop-on/hop-off bus as a hail storm hit us and we counted our lucky stars to be warm and dry on the bus.

At the charming, 1919 Moorish-style station, we warmed up with tea and then stood in a long blustery line to get back on the train to Madrid.

We had a pleasant trip and I chatted with a lady who suggested we that take a walk in a park below the Palacio Real. I presume she meant on a day with nicer weather.

March 10, 2024

Today was Sunday and I had specifically booked us here in Madrid so we could go to the massive Rastro Flea Market. We took our time this morning sampling grocery store croissants for breakfast at home before we taxied to the market. Our driver kindly took us to the top of the market since it’s situated on a long sloped street and we just had to tromp downhill while we looked at all the junk available at every farmer’s market. Jen bought a padded jacket and I got leopard PJs. We bought socks because, as I’ve mentioned, we are freezing here.

We took a taxi near to the Royal Palace and then found a restaurant for lunch. We ate eggs and potatoes.

Our tickets for the palace were for 2 pm and we got in line at 1:50. They were sold out of audio tours but we did fine, dodging tour groups and reading the helpful signs along the self-guided tour. I’ll let the pictures of the obscenely ornate palace rooms tell the story for you. Even after years of touring around palaces in Europe, this was crazy-beautiful. There were hundreds of crystal chandeliers, beautiful custom fabric lining the walls, and marble floors to match any place in Europe except for St. Petersburg, Russia, which is, hands-down the most opulent place in Europe.

We got in a taxi back to our place and I asked the driver to take us down the Grand Via, which we had missed while walking. It was a perfect tour of the long, busy street. I has theatres and chain stores, but it was so long that seeing it by car was the right approach. Additionally, when we were near our Airbnb in Las Letras barrio, the skies opened with nasty rain and hail, so were we ever glad we were in a warm, dry taxi.

Our dinner was a repeat of salad and brick oven pizza at La Mucca, followed by the Japanese lighter-than-air Sufu pancakes.

Tomorrow we will take the train to Barcelona, so we are busy tonight, doing laundry and packing our suitcases.

Madrid Photos