Madrid, day 1.

Again the distance between Toledo and Madrid was covered in super fast time on our AVE train. After finding our way out of Atocha station we came to the Metro. A kind local showed us how to buy a transit card and loaded it up for our journey. The way he organised it meant we only paid for one card but could load up two trips each time. Very helpful. We took the Metro to Tirso de Molina station and walked a few minutes to the Saga Rental building. Ionut, the man in reception, was really helpful, not only assisting us to settle into our lovely apartment

but showing us places of interest on Madrid maps. Our first venture out was to a nearby Carrefour express supermarket to stock up on food for breakfasts and lunch. It was a bit dodgy coming back as workmen were cutting paving tiles in the street outside the apartment. Fortunately the apartment was reasonably soundproof from street noise. After a couple of salad baguettes we were off on our first familiarisation walk of La Latina and the central part of Madrid. Our walk took us firstly to the impressive 17th century Plaza Mayor.

We continued to Puerto del Sol. Here we found the Madrid version of Melbourne’s ‘Skipping Girl Vinegar’ advertising board. This one was for Tio Pepe, a dry Sherry, popular in Spain.

Intriguingly the Town Hall building, which was under renovation, had lifelike scaffolding covers on it so you could still gain a sense of what it looks like.

We passed a few other important looking buildings

before sighting the Church of San Jerónimo el Real,

and eventually reached the Prado, Madrid’s famous art gallery. Karen had read you could gain free entry after 6pm each evening. Even though it was only 5:40pm there was an unbelievably long queue. Clearly lots of others were like us – interested in famous artworks but not if they had to pay to get in!

After initially joining it we figured it may not be worth it if it took a long time to get in (as the Prado closes at 8:00pm) so we figured we would come back another evening. It was a long walk back to the apartment so we had a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner. La Latina didn’t lack for options and we ended up eating at Taberna El Tempranillo in popular Calle Cava Baja. We shared a few Tapas between us. All were nice but the calamari (top of the plate below) was especially delicious. Lovely atmosphere in this small restaurant and it was certainly popular.

On our walk back to our apartment we noticed some of the outdoor eating venues had awesome backdrops for dinner.

We were definitely looking forward to exploring Madrid more tomorrow.

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