April 9, 2022

Madrid & Toledo

The other day we went to Spain for a few days to see Madrid and Toledo. That was not a bad decision as it turned out. Unfortunately, it was “a little” cold and windy and the town was IN-CRE-DI-BLY full.

Day 1

The first thing we did after arriving in downtown Madrid was to get “bocadillos de calamares”, which are rolls with breaded/fried squid. It’s a pretty cheap snack that you can buy anywhere in town, and - from what we’ve heard - locals and tourists love it. Well, we didn’t like the things because they were incredibly greasy and yet dry at the same time. I’d skip this “treat” next time.

“Plaza Mayor” is the main square in Madrid. Nice. It is quite nice there.

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Mercado de San Miguel, an old market building close to Plaza Mayor. We didn’t eat anything here as it was too crowded and we didn’t want to remove our face masks. But you can buy all sorts of tapas, seafood, cava, you name it. But be sure to bring a few Euros with you as the food is quite expensive.

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One of the most beautiful places in Madrid is the “ensemble” of cathedral and castle. Here we see the cathedral, the castle is behind it.

Maybe a tad weird is that cathedral and castle do not have too much space around to “breathe”. In some areas, other (residential) buildings are quite close, which looks a bit weird.

Surprisingly, the cathedral can be visited for free. They only ask for 1 EUR donation for maintenance. That’s okay and well spent as the cathedral is quite nice. Especially the ceiling is quite unique. Really liked it.

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The castle behind the cathedral.

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Opera. Close to the castle.

Day 2

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Paris has the Champs Γ‰lysΓ©es, New York has the Broadway, and Madrid has the Gran Via. Be sure to visit the street at day and night. Really pretty.

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An Egypt Temple (“Templo de Debot”) in Madrid. Yes, it is real.

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Cathedral, seen from the north / PrΓ­ncipe PΓ­o hill. I mentioned the buildings quite close to cathedral/castle?

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The castle, seen from the huge castle garden. The garden is free to visit and quite nice. A drawback is that it has one entry/exit. Quite a pity if you plan to just cross it.

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The Cathedral. Again. This time seen from the south close to the entrance to the crypta.

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Crypta beneath the cathedral.

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Change of the guards. This seems to happen every Saturday around noon on the castle/cathedral grounds. I actually expected just a few soldiers, not this massive deployment.

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Cathedral, seen from a small lookout nearby.

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A side alley of Calle del Arenal, which is probably one of Madrid’s shopping streets.

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Kilometer zero of Spanish streets in the Plaza del Sol. Unfortunately, Plaza del Sol was full of building sites, which is why I don’t have a nice photo of the plaza.

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The emblem of the city is a bear which is displayed on Plaza del Sol.

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Gran Via.

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Small alley in Barrio de Las Letras. Nice area to walk around in the evening/night and to get some drinks.

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Day 3

Walking down Gran Via towards Plaza Cibeles.

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Plaza Cibeles.

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The surprisingly large train station…

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Walking towards Parque de El Retiro, which was … kind of boring.

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The Palacio de Cristal was - of course - closed and the inside was under construction :-/

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Monument for king Alfonso XII seen from the backside …

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… and from the front.

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Puerta de AlcalΓ‘. Following the road to the left, you’ll hit the Prado sooner or later. Speaking of which: the Prado, Reina Sofia and the Thyssen museum all offer free tickets for two hours at the evening. We tried to grab free evening tickets for the Prado and failed miserably. The queue for the free tickets was 300m long…

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Strong Gaudi vibes.

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One of the most well known buildings in Madrid. I shot the pic through the window of the food court of a nearby shopping center.

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In a restaurant…

… which served quite fine food.

Day 4

This is a free (as in free beer) and fully electric bus (no, I’m not joking) which runs through town to the train station.

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This is Toledo. You can reach the town in roughly 35 minutes from Madrid by train. I totally thought the train would be some kind of slow regional train that stops everywhere, … But no: there’s only a high-speed train connection available. Nice.

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Toledo cathedral. 10 EUR. Maybe worth the visit.

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I honestly wasn’t too impressed by Toledo itself. The town is transformed to the typical medieval Disneyland full of souvenir shops that you find everywhere. However, the short hike to this lookout outside of town was nice and the view great.

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Some more food.

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Day 5

Plaza Europa

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