The Principal Madrid
The Principal Madrid Hotel was in a great location and the old style character of the hotel was very charming. We were right on Gran Via and so we never had to go far to find great food, nightlife, or shopping.
As we spent more time in the city and exploring we started to realize though that we might have enjoyed the location of the Westin. We wanted to go to all the museums, and they are all in that area of the city, the park is very close tool, and the best meals we had were in that area as well. In saying that, I still loved our hotel and we did not mind walking the extra couple of blocks. When it comes to recommend places though and just thinking of what we would do if and when we go back to Madrid we would stay near or at the Westin.
We were able to go to three museums when we were in Madrid and at all three we were able to get in for free. The first museum Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza we got in for free because of a credit card promotion. The second museum was the Prado and we got in with our student ID’s, which we still use on occasion because we can still pass as students. We saw some amazing works of art at the Prado. It is a massive museum and we did not go to every single section.
When it came time to go to our third and final museum we headed towards the Museo Reina Sofia. My husband’s uncle highly recommended this museum and I would have to say that it was my favorite out of the three that we went to. I loved getting to see Picasso’s work, especially spending time in front of Guernica. The Sofia taught me so much about Spanish history and gave me such a better understanding everything we had learned about the city while we were there.
Day Trips from Madrid
As mentioned in other blog posts we went on two day trips while we were in Spain and I think we both agree that we enjoyed our day in Toledo more than our day in Segovia. Regardless, we still had a wonderful time in both cities and our trip would not have been the same without getting to go to both of them. We had more things figured out and planned when we went to Toledo, and so I think that made us feel like we knew what we were wanting to accomplish. When we were in Segovia, we had much looser plans and the weather was much colder. It actually snowed for a couple of minutes while we were walking the streets in Segovia.
In Toledo I would highly recommend the zip line. We used our student ID’s, again, and we were able to go on the zip line twice!! The other must thing to do is the Cathedral. Matt and I spent nearly two hours wondering the aisles and passages of the cathedral. The audio guide there is free you just have to make a deposit with an ID that you will get back when you return the audio guides. There is so much history there because Toledo was the capital of Spain before Madrid and so it was the head of the Catholic Church in Spain. I was born and raised Catholic and I really enjoyed learning the history of the church in Spain.
We also bought tickets for the hop on and off bus in Toledo, which was useful to get to the outskirts of town to see the famous panorama views of the city and then back to town but then we never got on it again. We were given a ticket to get a tour of one of the watch towers which was not available to the rest of the public. There was not too much history to learn there but it was neat to walk up the stairs of the tower and see the sights from up there. We took the train to and from Toledo and it was a very easy way to get there. The train is comfortable and we both took a nap on the way back to Madrid.
For our trip to Segovia we took a bus, which was incredibly cheap. Just as a note to future bus riders you cannot bring coffee on board the bus. I learned that that hard way. The bus drops you off right in the city so you don’t need to worry about a hop on and off bus or anything like that there in Segovia. The highlight of Segovia is getting to see the Roman aqueduct. I am a nerd when it comes to Roman architecture, I studies abroad in Rome, and so getting to see that was the highlight of my day in Segovia.
The cathedral in Segovia is not as impressive as Toledo but the other thing we did there that I would highly recommend in the castle. We paid for the audio tour there and it was really neat. You don’t get many opportunities to go up into a castle and I really enjoyed it. Segovia was where we ran into almost all the shops being closed for “siestas.” We knew this was a common practice in Spain but most days we did not really realize it but in Segovia almost all the little shops were closed. We spent time in a Café drinking coffee and eating pastries, which is the intent of siestas, to help to slow down get a break.
Final Day in Madrid
Back in Madrid for our last full day in the city we went to the Prado and walked through the park. It was raining but even through the rain you could tell how beautiful the park was. They have this big pond and in the summer you can rent paddle boats and go out there. We wondered until we found the glass palace. It is definitely a must see. A palace of glass and they had a sound insulation that you could read about. When we left the park we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant in Madrid called, Cacao Restobar. We had Mexican themed food and a whole pitcher of sangria! It was delicious.
Our last morning in Madrid we went and had chocolate con churros for breakfast which consisted of melted chocolate that you dip churros in. Yes, it was to die for. When we go back we will definitely go back to have some more.
In the end, we had an amazing time in Spain. Everyone always say that you need to go to Paris, London, etc. but if you can go to Spain! The people were friendly, the food is amazing, and the history is fascinating. We cannot wait to go back someday. We could really get used to the Spanish lifestyle.