With our 10th city in sight we boarded the morning train from Granada to Madrid. Renfe’s Altaria train covers this route with beautiful scenic views in just over 4 hours, including popular stops along the way, most notably Cordoba. Last stop, Madrid Atocha! This ultra modern train station has all the buzz and amenities one could want while waiting for their train’s departure. For us, it was convenient to find the underground transport system connected so we hopped on the metro to Sol, where Puerta del Sol square represents Madrid’s center point. Lucky for us we found our hotel, Petit Palace Mayor Plaza, was also in this great location, walking distance to many of Madrid’s wonderful sights and attractions.
For one, Mercado de San Miguel is across the street so we walked over to pick up a bite to eat and could not have been more pleasantly surprised. Upon stepping inside we were greeted with the sounds and smells of a busy Sunday afternoon in the market, but not the usual kind of market where you do your everyday groceries. Instead this market has more of a party atmosphere and is best described as a foodie paradise, where you can buy tapas for as little as €1 and sample olives, cheese, wine, chocolates, beer, oysters, paella, mozzarella bufala clouds, etc. Open until midnight or later, let’s just say those staying nearby will be tempted to drop by daily.
Onto our entertainment for the evening, we walked over to Corral de la Morería for dinner and a flamenco show. Selected by the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die”, and having won numerous other awards, this is a flamenco show like no other. Set on stage while you dine, a total of 5 dancers wowed us with their costumes and dancing, plus 3 guitarists and 3 singers added to the experience. But really it was the solo performances that blew us away, showing so much emotion, strength, passion and stamina, making for a night of unforgettable performances.
Day 2 in Madrid
With our last day of this amazing adventure upon us, we set out to tour some of Madrid’s favorite sights. Beginning with the old Atocha station, with its iconic red brick exterior and tropical garden interior, this is one of Europe’s train stations worth the visit in itself. Up the street from here you’ll find a number of attractions within a short distance from one another, where we walked by Madrid’s botanical gardens (Real Jardín Botánico), followed by Museo del Prado, with its some 1500 paintings on display including masterpieces by Goya and Velázquez. And lastly, Parque del Buen Retiro, a huge public park complete with manicured gardens, statues, fountains and even an artificial lake where you can rent row boats for a lazy, romantic afternoon in the sun.
From here, we headed back to central Sol to tour around its many plazas. Plaza Mayor being our favorite with its rich reds and fantasy-like frescoes of zodiac signs, surrounded by shops and terraces, this is where we decided to claim a table in the sun and celebrate what a success this trip has been!
From Rome, to Cinque Terre, to Florence, to Venice, to Paris, to Barcelona, to Valencia, to Seville, to Granada, and to Madrid we toured 10 cities in 16 nights! With our Eurail Passes in hand, we traveled approximately 4,500km on a total of 9 trains throughout Italy and Spain and can attest to the fact that every one of them was on time and a pleasure to take. Each city was unique offering up a variety of cultures, cuisines, attractions and iconic European experiences for the taking. And as they say, all good things must come to an end…so we hope our trip has provided inspiration for your very own European adventure, happy travels!
Thanks to our partners for making this visit to Madrid possible: Air Canada Vacations, Eurail, Madrid Visitors & Convention Bureau, Hotel Petit Palace Mayor Plaza, Corral de la Morería and Renfe.
By: Angela Guezen
Photos by: Jen Crane