Madrid, Spain-where everybody had to be out and about!

We took the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid, and it was fast! With only 2 short stops, the trip was easy. It helped that I took advantage of the onboard free wifi to put up a blog post. What a great way to travel, too bad we can’t do that in the US because a train like that to Pittsburgh or Indianapolis would allow me to really annoy some of my favorite family members!

If you have ever heard my dad tell stories of our travels through England in 1972, you will get why I sent this photo to him and my sister with the caption “looks like Wisconsin.” You can also see from the way the tracks look that we were moving pretty fast!
These are some of the train cars, they look a little fast…
Dan took a screenshot, this was not the fastest we were going, but close!

We arrived to a rainy Madrid a few hours before we could check in to our accommodations, so we decided to store our bags and check out some of the city. There was a place to store bags a few hundred meters from the station, so we headed over stash our stuff. The whole thing was automated, just select the size locker you need (S,M,L), choose how many hours, a locker magically opens and they email you the code you need to open it with later. Easy peasy! Again, why isn’t this a thing in the US?

We wandered away from the train station and found ourselves near the botanical garden, which those of you who remember the posts from Australia and New Zealand know we are susceptible to, but it was closed for some event. We carried on and found a large city park and spent time wandering there. It was lovely.

The Madrid Atocha Train Station. This station has high speed rail connections to many Eurpean cities.
A plaza at the park. Yes, it was very rainy, yes were very wet by the time we were ready to head to our accommodations. I am a bit surprised the cab driver didn’t charge us extra for the puddles we must have left in the cab…

We stayed in the “Times Square of Madrid” full of theaters, neon billboards, shops, and action. It was located near many of the highlights of old Madrid, so it was a great, if noisy, location! We inquired at the i-Site (tourist information center) about the Hop on Hop off bus on Saturday but they advised that we should avoid it on Saturday due to a “labor demonstration” and on Sunday for the Madrid Marathon. So, we just started wandering around. We ended up in a local market and decided to buy some cheese and wine at a booth. While waiting in line a man asked me something in rapid fire Spanish. At my befuddled look, he immediately asked me in un-accented English if I was in line. I said yes and then asked him to repeat slowly which he did. He asked where I was from, and then because I said Ohio, he admitted to being from Indianapolis! He said he usually says Chicago because it’s easier. Nice Midwestern chat ensued where I learned he had followed a woman to Madrid (and introduced me to the 6ish year old result of that who was with him). Small world indeed.

The next few days we walked around Madrid, took the Hop on Hop off, found some “outside the tourist district” neighborhoods for low key, yummy food. We also learned that sometimes you need to pre buy the tickets! Oh well, we will just have to go back to Madrid so we can tour the palace next time!

Lots of monuments in Madrid.
The Cathedral, and the crowds in the square it shares with the castle, so you can see the need to pre-book.
One of the many impressive doors to the Cathedral.
Just one example of the buildings along the Via Grande. Many had large sculptures adorning the roofs.
Madrid is a very large and busy city, but there are parks, fountains and public art scattered everywhere, so you are always able to stop and take a deep, appreciative breath.
I don’t only make Dan visit government buildings in US.
The main square in Madrid. This was taken on our second visit, the first was on a weekend and it was full of people!
The lake in the middle of the main city park on our rainy arrival day.
The same view of the lake a few days later, when the sun was out. Between the Madrid Marathon, the good weather and the weekend, I would have sworn the city passed an ordinance saying no one was allowed to stay home!

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