Woke up early for a heavy breakfast, check out of Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos at Avinguda Diagonal at Barcelona, left my big luggage with the concierge and carried my overnighter with me to the Sants Railway Station. I managed to book the 11am train ticket to Madrid at the station. The train ride was two hours and forty-five minutes. This was my first visit to Madrid. The Sol Railway Station, looked impressive.
Only those with credit cards issued in Spain could book and transact the train ticket online. The hotel staff could not help with the online booking unless they use their personal credit card which of course would not make sense. Do not understand the rational behind.
From the train station, I took a taxi to the hotel, Petit Palace Lealtad Plaza. Upon reaching, I realised that it was just around the corner, about 10 minutes walk from the Sol Train Station. No wonder the taxi driver looked upset when I told him where I was going. Should have done my homework on that.
Petit Palace Lealtad Plaza is an elegant four star hotel built in 1905 and refurbished in 2012. It overlooks the El Retiro Park (refer to the featured image). Prado Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum are located just 250 meters away. It is also within convenient walking distance to Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Indeed an excellent location.
After freshened up, it was about 3pm. Took a walk to explore the area and had steak at an Argentinian restaurant for lunch. The food was good. The restaurant was filled with diners though it was way past lunch time. After lunch, I made my way to Puerto del Sol. I walked past the legendary Palace Hotel, the hotel that I originally would like to book but was fully booked as I only made the booking after I arrived at Barcelona. Guess it was a blessing in disguise as a night at Palace Hotel is equivalent to two to three nights at Petit. Petit is a lovely and cosy hotel.
I went with the flow and reached Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid, one of the busiest places in the city – hub for local transit system, favourite meeting spot for locals, opportune location for street performers, tour guides and tourists. In the center of the plaza sits the Statue of King Charles III on horseback, facing the clock tower, part of the building known as the “Real Casa de Correos”. This was originally built in the 18th century as part of the Royal Post Office, and now functions as the headquarters of the President of Madrid’s Autonomous Community.
“El Oso y El Madroño” (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree) or Oso & Madroño, the official symbol of the city, is the work of the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santa Fe. The building behind the sculpture is the Apple Store. Every city I visit, I will pay a visit to the Apple Store, think it has become a “ritual”.
Just a short walk away is Plaza Mayor, originally built outside the city walls, this enclosed square has played host to bullfights, markets, symphonies, tournaments and executions. Today it is ringed with tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. The statue of Philip III sits in the middle across from the Casa de la Panaderia, a municipal and cultural building.
I took a short walk to my next stop, Mercado de San Miguel, the most popular market in Madrid among the tourists as it is located in the center of Madrid. A place highly recommended by my colleague. He said that I will definitely love this place and he is right. The market is not a traditional grocery market but a gourmet tapas market selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked food, beer, wine and champagne.
Made my way back to Puerta del Sol and was welcomed by the beautiful colour of the sky. I could not stop taking pictures of the changing colours of the sky.
After snapping lots of pictures of the beautiful sky, I had dinner and walked back to the hotel.
Back in the hotel room, I received a call from the reception asking if I would like to watch the Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona match happening the next day. Initially I was tempted but upon hearing the price of the ticket (500 euro), I decided to stick with my plan for a day trip to Toledo.
Thank you for stopping by
Note: All photos in this post are taken by me using Leica C Compact Camera & iPhone 6