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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Madrid, Spain in 3 days

Arrived in Madrid on Saturday in the afternoon, day before Holy Week. I was slightly jet lagged but eager to see the city. Getting to the city was surprisingly easy from the airport. It cost 4.50€ from T2, took the 8 (Nuevos Ministeros/ Aeropuerto,pink line) and then hopped on the 10(Hospital Infanta Sofia/Puerta del Sur,dark blue line)to Alonso Martinez and a brief 5 minutes walk to AC Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection
Entrance to this 5 star hotel

 Morning view from the room

The hotel was beautiful and made you feel like you stepped back in time when Duke Santo Mauro was residing in this mansion. Getting around to the city centre was easy and mostly everything was within 10 minutes of the metro. 

What to do...where to go...

-Puerto del Sol "Gate of the Sun" 

-Gran Via. Known as Spanish Broadway where you'll will find all the hipsters here as it's where most of the action take place and most of the iconic "things to see/do" is around this area. 

-Mercado de San Miguel. This place has gained a lot of popularity for good reason. Lots of food/drink vendors to choose from. However, due to the popularity you'll notice higher "small bites" prices in comparison to surrounding area. I recommend you do a walk around first before making a decision and also meander outside to the other eateries that are less inexpensive. Also, make sure to be clear of what you want/order so you don't get overcharged or given double of items. 

-Plaza Mayor. Central plaza where a lot of events happen. You will find a statue of King Philip III in the center. This place is very close to the Mercado so meander this way.

Breakfast at Cafe de Oriente with a view of the Royal palace. I had the traditional tortilla de patatas(Spanish omelet), cafe, & freshly squeezed orange juice. 

I thought it was a great start for the day. While having breakfast, there was this amazing sound of church bells ringing and bouquet of palm, olive, & rosemary branches swimming in a sea of people calling all worshippers and luring curiosity to Catedral de la Almudena

We attended the Palm Sunday mass. It was chilling and it felt as if it could convert any non-believers. The highlight of attending the mass was meeting one of the priest, chitchatting about California and Hawaii. We also received blessing of our palm fronds that will be used towards Aloha Sourced bamboo soaps. The rest of the day felt like a blur - being in the moment, humbled and blessed for this amazing experience. We walked over 7 miles and was able to see these amazing architecture for FREE:

Edificio Grassy- Entrance to Gran Via

Puerta de Alcala

Temple of Debod

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Cibeles

Parque de Buen Retiro

Palacio de Cristal

Inside the Cristal Palace

Glorieta de Embajadores

Palacio Real

Teatro Real

The angel on top of the Metropolis Building

For 4€ you can get an admission to The Azotea-Tartan Roof for a rooftop experience of the city. Take your time while you're up here to enjoy the 360 degree view of this amazing city. There are lounge/seating area to relax to enjoy their cafe con leche and mojitos. 

Dinner at Gran Cafeteria Bar Santander- an iconic place that reminds of that diner that you must go to. Food and drinks were reasonable and so delicious! For the two of us we shared mixto paella and calamari rendered in its own black ink with rice for 20. I got a glass of Spanish rose for 2,50€. DK's grande beer costed 1.50€ and you can get a pint for 3€. 

We ended our night with some Irish coffee and petit fours at the Chivas Bar.

-Do take the subways. It's an inexpensive and fast way of getting around the city. It will cost you 1.50€ one way and you can pay at the station. Go: HERE for the metro map. I suggest locating where your hotel/accommodations on the map so you will know where to get off when you arrive at the airport.

-Get a real map. As much as I love google maps, I was surprised of how many people were carrying around an actual map. Get a map of the metro route and of the city from the concierge at your hotel.

-Meals/Drinks are meant to be long to enjoy your company and savor the food/drink. There weren't a lot of breakfast eateries since most non tourist eat at home during the morning hours. However, brunch is becoming popular on the weekend beginning at 1000 (10am). Note: lunch is usually taken after 1400 (2pm) and dinner after 2000 (8pm).

-Meals usually include 10% IVA or VAT (value added tax) or tip. However, it's considered common courtesy and proper etiquette of rounding up to the nearest euro or add extra if the service was good. Note: remember dining experience outside of the US differs. Meaning your server won't be checking up on you every 5 minutes. Don't think they are ignoring you or being rude. They just want you to enjoy your meal/company. When you are ready, you can signal them. You can say, "La quenta por favor" Translation: Check, please.

-Use cash or use credit card that does not have foreign transaction fee for purchases.

-Do try to learn a few phrases in Spanish.

-For Marid attractions go: HERE

You may think 3 days might not be enough time to see everything but I personally think it is possible. Stay tune for more adventure blogs and I will also be posting a blog on Luxury Travel on a Budget.


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