Madrid 8/03

Home Up Madrid 8/03 Toledo & Segovia 8/03 Cordoba & Seville 8/03

The hub of Spain...

Royal Palace courtyard

Madrid has the "feel" of a big city, including great art, culture, big city problems and the usual complement of fast food and Starbucks on every corner. The museums are among the best in the world - especially the Prado, the sights are unique and the plazas and parks were alive with people in late August. Madrid days start late and end late, with most restaurants serving dinner at 9pm or later. It seemed Ben and I covered most everything worth seeing over the course of two days.

Friday, August 22nd


We arrived in the late afternoon after a day of flying from LAX to DFW to Frankfurt and finally to Madrid. We headed out to the Plaza de Espana (first picture below with Ben in front of Don Quixote and Sancho), just outside our hotel, the Crowne Plaza. We caught the cheesy - but easy, Hop-On-Off Bus there for an overview tour of the city (Puerta de Toledo and Puerta del Sol - second and third pictures below). We finished the first day at the Madrid Hard Rock Cafe at the top of Museum row.

Neptune's Fountain on Paseo del Prado

Saturday, August 23rd


We headed out mid-morning for the Royal Palace, the first stop on a walking day through Madrid. Just outside the Palace gates are the Cathedral of Almudena (fourth picture above) and Plaza Oriente (first picture below). Madrid's Royal Palace is the third largest in Europe, after Versailles and Vienna's Schonbrunn, and is reminiscent of both. The courtyard (large picture top of page left and second picture below) leads to the entrance. The interiors are ornate, as befits any palace (Hall of Columns and Asian Smoking Room - third and fourth pictures below).

From the palace, we walked across town, stopping first at Plaza de la Villa where city hall is located (first picture below). The next stop was Plaza Mayor, with its outdoor cafes and ring shops set up like St Marks Square in Venice, minus the pigeons (second picture below). Proceeding past Plaza del Sol on San Jeronimo (street scene with Museo del Jamon cafe, home of Iberian cured hams - third picture below), we headed to museum row on Paseo del Prado, which is a grand European style boulevard (fourth picture below and large picture top of page right). There we visited the Thyssen and Prado museums, both excellent. See the Spanish section of the Art page for some examples. The Thyssen had a great floor plan that allowed a historical progression from ancient through modern art starting from the top floor - ending in the basement. After eating at Planet Hollywood (Ben's request) we walked back across town on a southern route, ending at Puerta de Toledo, before metroing it back to the hotel. That evening we prepared for our day trip the next morning to Toledo.

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