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Among the beauties of Madrid and de la mancia

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Martí Micolau
@martímicolau
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Among the first European capitals that we plan to visit, after London and Paris, now? the vault of Madrid. Reading the always useful travel diaries of those who preceded us, we are convinced that 3 days will be enough to satisfy our desire to get to know the Hispanic capital ... So let's go!

1 day

Friday? 11 June we leave from the nice and functional V. Florio airport in Trapani. The departure ? scheduled for 16.45 and so? ?. We arrive on time.
Madrid Barajas Airport? beautiful and immense, and we stop for a moment to admire it. Time not? much?, indeed, even a few drops of rain fall, but are we sure that? just one case.
We collect the rental car and go to the hotel. Also this time, after the pi? what a positive London experience last December, we chose an express holiday inn, the one just a few minutes from the airport. Same standard, only connections for those who don't have their own car are practically non-existent. Luckily we have our own car!
After checking in and placing the suitcases in the rooms on the fly, we decide to immediately attack the city? and we run towards the center. To find out already? from now what to park the car? simply a dream ... After several laps we leave it in a remote corner quite far from the center and we move briskly towards Plaza Mayor ... What a beauty !! Has a charm that? unique, picturesque.
After having metabolized the amazement for the square, on the spot, we decide to also start the parallel holiday: the gastronomic one.
Thanks to what has been reported by the friends who make their holiday experiences available here, a sure point on the jamon museum, where we immediately start with the pure tradition: boccadillos with squid, with Jamon and with tortilla! All very good and at great prices, a bit "aseptic" waitress, but acceptable experience. Scouting tour of the whole square, then towards Puerta del Sol, another attraction of the city? and, since? c '? to recover the car and the evening? freschetta, let's start already? now our acquaintance with the Madrid metro. Great impact: our standard? linked to those of London before and Paris after, but I admit that here not? not bad! It is palpable that the people of Madrid are keen to make it shine, and so? ?.
To hurry up, do we buy a booklet from 10 to 9 rides? and let's go. Car, no one knows how, recovered and off to bed ... Beautiful invention the GPS navigators! The motorways, beautiful, here are a bit messed up: one less thought not to have to look for highways and intersections at 2 am!





2 day

Saturday 12 June: at 8 already at breakfast, when traveling we have the "good habit" of maximizing the time available to us. Unfortunately, the weather conditions are very bad and we, honestly, are not very equipped for cold and rain. Only sorry, but not at all frightened, let's start what, as scheduled, will be? a very busy day.

Mindful of the experience of the night before about parking, this time we leave the car at the gates of the city? wherever we can take the metro. It is necessary to settle "the meter question": since the 10 tickets are over too early, so we take the "abono" for 48h at 8.80 (4,40 for children) with unlimited use, which in the end turned out to be the best choice .
The tour starts from the Plaza de la Independencia, where the sumptuous Alcal Gate stands? and continues to Plaza de Espana, where among other things there are the beautiful statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Very neat, surrounded by a couple of huge skyscrapers and with a beautiful fountain on one of its sides, I recommend that you include it in your plans to visit Madrid.
A few meters away is the huge Royal Palace with beautiful gardens that make it even more? unique ... for? still raining! Fortunately, as tradition dictates, as if by magic, the Chinese pop up and we buy some umbrellas ...
The Royal Palace can not? miss in any city tour? self-respecting. Unfortunately the queue to get inside? really long and facing it in the pouring rain is not talked about, so we give up. We continue towards Plaza Mayor, to see the? a few meters from the famous covered market of San Miguel, which for the occasion? full of people who more? that visiting it shelters from the rain! Can't you? move ... and we who l? we wanted to have lunch! Let's run away.
We take refuge in a little place in the Calle Mayor, just before arriving at the Puerta del Sol, which seemed to be not bad ... And here I should, about the food and the premises, open a parenthesis, but I refer it to the end when the information is complete .
We eat the fried calamari, the delicious bacon they prepare in these parts, the boccadillos with Iberian jamon, all as tradition dictates and always at low prices, in fact.
From Puerta del Sol we take the metro to go to the Prado museum, so? finally we can, at least for a while, stop getting wet and feel cold. Taking advantage of the under 18 discounts, those for EU students under 25, in the end on 6 we pay only in 2 !!
After the Louvre, the British Museum, the Uffizi and the National Gallery, we thought we had seen almost everything, but it wasn't so: here c '? really "so much stuff" !! And the museum? really well organized.
Unmissable! To restore ourselves a little, we stop at Starbucks, which for us is already? time ago ? become a deliberately obliged stop, to take the delicious frappuccino and buy some nice cups to collect. It took.

We go out and pass to the nearby Reina Sofia, what on Saturday afternoon? free. Luckily, why? the organization? inexistent. Regarding the works on display, apart from those by Dal?, Among which the famous Guernica which alone attracts almost all? of visitors, those of Juan Mir? ... We were not very satisfied. Maybe why? before we had full tank at the Prado, but so much ?.
According to our plans, the next step? the adjacent Atocha station, where inside there? a tropical garden worthy of the Amazon, truly unique! Friends who left their travel diary before us had reported a place on Gran via, opposite Plaza de Callao, "Caf? & Te", to eat paella made according to the best tradition ... do the same thing recommending it to future visitors to the city: see parentheses for more? forward. After dinner, stroll to Puerta del Sol and then by metro.
We collect the car and find a nice surprise: fine for no parking, 60? ... What? we will have a further memory of this holiday! Our batteries really urgently need to be recharged, you will understand, if you go, what a tour we did in one day!



3 day

Sunday 13 June 2010: it seems the sun is shining, cheers! Won't it last? very long, but if nothing else it won't rain? all day. We decide to drive almost the entire Paseo della Castellana with an obligatory stop at Plaza della Castilla where 2 converging columns tower, which ideally represent the gateway to Europe and an obelisk in the center with a very beautiful square attached.
Left the car in a parking lot there? close by, we continue for the first stage of today's program: the Rastro, the famous Sunday market in Madrid full of all kinds of objects and men. Immense and full of many interesting things. We were a bit tense due to the possible presence of pickpockets who had been reported to us by many, including the policemen who orbited in a square in front of us, but? went smoothly, luckily. Before going, we make a visit to the nearby Puerta de Toledo and then to the metro.
Since the sun was still there, we arranged to go back to P. Mayor and Puerta del Sol to finally take some decent photos. We eat a sandwich on the fly and continue for another of our inevitable stops: hard Rock Café, in Paseo della Castellana 92. Small, but something nice to take away we find it easily.
Not far, since? always on the same road, we cannot miss the temple of football: the Santiago Bernabeu! We only see it from the outside and we visit the huge shopping center, where, needless to say, here too we find the way to spend some money!
Time flies, and we cannot miss the opportunity to attend today's show (usually on Saturdays and Sundays there are shows) of the bullfighting in the Plaza de Toros which starts at 19.00! We arrive practically 5 minutes before the show starts, in a moment we buy the tickets at 7,00? each for a pretty good accommodation and we jump inside.
The bullfight, you know, can? trigger endless discussions, then everyone can? make the choices and considerations he believes in, but we wanted to live this experience in person. Tension and spectacle ... These are the feelings you get in an arena. You go from putting your hands in front of your eyes to getting up, involved by all the spectators, and shouting ol? in a moment. We considered it a memorable stop on our journey. We leave the arena at 21.30pm and evaluate where and what to eat. To seal the day we give ourselves an outdoor dinner, for? this time sitting in the outdoor tables, not at the counter like the first time, in the famous jamon museum in Plaza Mayor, which already? the night before he had caught our attention, why? it was sold out.
At this point ? the case of opening that parenthesis relating to Spanish gastronomy to which one? pi? times mentioned. The feeling we (also) had? that gastronomic operators in Spain are very deficient in terms of hygiene. On this aspect we had already? read several reviews that heralded how much we can confirm. From the basic cleaning of the premises, to the packaging and presentation of the dishes, here they do it ... too simple, to put it mildly. Like our NAS there? they would close 70% of the premises! And not to rage, but not even in terms of cordiality? and professionalism? I'm "black belt" in Madrid !! All dishes and / or precooked foods, assembled and heated if necessary, regardless of the satisfaction of those who are just passing through and are here occasionally and certainly will not return tomorrow ... But? obvious that? a very wrong policy! Why? we are here so that? who will go? after whoever writes, be prepared to expect and seek a better service. Let's not dwell on it, we just wanted to warn you.



4 day

Monday? June 14: we have breakfast and closed our suitcases we leave the hotel.

We head to Toledo, a beautiful town full of history, since it was the Spanish capital for a long time, and of really interesting architecture.
Built inside the walls still in perfect condition today, it seems to be on the set of a medieval film, truly unmissable. We point out the magnificent cathedral, the Alcazar, the Monastery of San Juan de los reyes, a panoramic point overlooking the Alcazar that offers a view of a valley where the river toya flows. What will you do? lose for a few minutes. And since? the river ? around the city, also from the opposite side, that is from the Monastery of San Juan de los reyes you can admire a similar, if not more? beautiful landscape. In practice you have to follow the magnificent route of the Cigarrales which allows you to enjoy magnificent views over the city.
For fans, remember that Toledo? the homeland of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, as well as? of a famous craftsmanship specialized in the production of swords and edged and pointed weapons of all kinds, provided that they can then be transported by plane, of course.
Is it almost 15,? the case of eating a little something. We identify a little place more? below the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, run by a family, where we ate, what we can without delay define, the best boccadillos of our vacation.
It's time to retrieve the car from the parking and head to Madrid airport which is about 80 km away. Travel ? accompanied by a pouring rain, a sign that our holiday will end? cos? how it started: in the rain.

By 17 we are in Barajas, we leave the car and we go towards the check in, so? the sooner we do and the sooner we settle down. The plane leaves and arrives on time despite, of course, the crossing of a bad storm that made us dance a bit!
And so what? this gold token will also go? to enrich our holiday chest, which we count and hope will slowly become more and more? rich!

Good holiday everyone!
Peppe, Laura, Rosanna, Sergio, Claudia and Serenella

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