Movin On To Madrid

I never had the time to get excited for Madrid. I honestly didn't do any research and didn't know what to expect. We'd spent five nights in Barcelona and I was jaded. We had a horrible hotel, even worse food and I just wanted to get out of there. In my eyes the place was way too touristy and polluted. I was looking for refuge and relaxation in Spain. All I ever felt was the overwhelming sense to get on to something new. We had done the beach, the museums and walked the popular spots. We had also done the nightlife, chilled in our crappy room and began to feel like five days was entirely too much. Then to finally pack, get down to the lobby and get slapped with city taxes … it was definitely time to move on to Madrid.

Our cabbie to the train station played Meatloaf and tried to impress us with American music trivia. The station was quite old and restrooms were jail like with metal toilets with no seats. Having teetered over metal rim to pee and then ate traditional Catalan breakfast I was more than ready to go. The process of getting on the train was a doozy. We had way too many bags and they had to be processed at this particular station. We then had to go down to a platform, get our tickets scanned and find our cabin. Once on the train and situated we were pleased. This train was far better than the Elipsos since we were now riding one of the more popular Renfre daily trippers. While traveling west we noticed the scenery changing. It occurred to us that Madrid was more or less a valley in the middle of a never-ending desert. There is no surrounding water therefore no humidity or breeze.

Once at the edge of Madrid at Atocha we had to take a local metro into the city. This proved to be an interesting transfer. We had to ask security officers for instructions although there were both Spanish and English signage. The problem was navigating the streets once off the metro so we had to be certain we were close to our Air BnB location. Thankfully we only had one train to a city centre and a short walk through two major plazas. As Nantes has 11 neighborhoods, Paris 20 arrondissements - Madrid has plazas that divide 21 districts with hundreds of wards. Once up to and in our first Madrid plaza we noticed something - Madrid is incredibly hot. In fact, Madrid is like hell. Seriously, after arriving in Atocha, the transfer and now walking with tons of bags through the city we were the disgusting. Of course, we got lost too so we walked around aimlessly looking for our host who was simultaneously looking for us.

The host was a sweet guy who owned a gift shop below his rental. He finally met us and spoke directly to her since she booked this one. We followed him up three flights of narrow stairs to a door that housed a foyer. Inside there were two doors to separate apartments. He asked us to make sure that both our entryway and apartment door stayed locked and as we shared the foyer light make sure to turn it off when coming and going. Once inside we were amazed at the space. It would be our first and last time having separate spaces. I took this as an opportunity to get some much needed sleep not having to share a bed. She took the sleeper sofa in the common area and I took the bed in a separated nook. We had a great modern kitchen, air conditioning and a washer. Our host was very informative about the house, nearby attractions and even plated us a nice snack. We also found the mini fridge well stocked with still water, juice, Coke, beer and even cava - Spanish champagne.

That afternoon we went right back out to check out our surroundings. We only survived a short circle around and a trip to the Carefour Market. In our travels, we noticed a movie theater, a Topshop and a panderia with counter service. We then walked the streets with creme horns and cans of Pepsi but soon found the heat unbearable. Just crossing from the bakery to a shop the soda had lost all its fizzle. Lets just say the a/c and shower in our Air BnB unit was well used. We had only booked three days in Madrid leaving us very little time to explore and take everything in. Thankfully, we still had those mini tourism guides I'd skimmed and the host had left us a plethora of Madrid brochures. So that afternoon as we cooled off watching dubbed "Hardcore Pawn" I made certain to actually read most of them. We then had a great plan of action including the royal palaces, a district well known by Pedro Almadovar and Museo Del Prado. We actually conquered all of the above and got plenty of history in - more on that to come.

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