After our comfortable train ride from Seville, we took a cab to the hotel and I hit the sack, while my parents went out for dinner. It was an early bedtime, but I found myself awake early the next morning, ready for a morning stroll.
Introduction: Spring break in Spain
British Airways Club World DFW-LHR
British Airways T5 Galleries South Lounge @ Heathrow
The Westin Palace Madrid
Renfe Preferred Class Madrid-Seville
Renfe Preferred Class Lounge – Seville St. Justa
Hotel Alfonso XII Seville
Strolling through Seville
Sights and Sounds of Majestic Madrid
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid Barajas
Iberia Business Class Madrid-Barcelona
The W Barcelona
Exploring Gaudi’s Barcelona
The Hilton London Heathrow Airport T5
American Airlines New Business Class LHR-DFW
Unfortunately, the day started out rainy and windy so we had to initially stick to the great indoors. This meant visiting the famed Prado museum, which was just across the street from our hotel.
One of the great things about Spain is that access to museums and other galleries is either inexpensive for students or free after 6pm on most days and after 5 on weekends and holidays. Since my sister and I are students and were between the ages of 18-25, admission was free. My parents got their tickets for a discounted rate of 24 Euros (12 Euros per person) online.
FYI: The rate at the gate is 15 Euros per person for adults.
The museum is absolutely huge, perfect for whiling away an otherwise gloomy morning.
So you were expecting to see tons of pictures of paintings and galleries right? I was expecting the same only to be disappointed. The Prado is sadly very strict about photography inside the museum. Therefore that statue found outside the main gallery is all I could get for a picture out of that huge museum 🙁
After our morning tour of the Prado, we headed out for a rather late lunch at Tandoori Station. I know it’s yet another Indian restaurant, but it’s really one of the more convenient places to find vegetarian food in a country where cuisine was very meat oriented.
The restaurant was very crowded when we arrived and because of this I didn’t get a chance to capture pictures outside just the food. From what I have seen, it seems that people in Spain like to take late lunches and late dinners. There was even a line to be seated when we walked in, but since I had called ahead, there was no problem.
The place had a modern ambiance with maps of the Delhi metro/subway decorating the walls. It was definitely an innovative design and I appreciated the effort that went into the branding of the restaurant. Both service and food were of exceptional quality.
We started of with the vegetable samosa (my sister just absolutely loves fried food):
For the main course we ordered butter naan, steamed rice, aloo jeera, bhindi masala, and spinach dal. Upon request everything was made without nuts and garlic (we have some food allergies and picky eaters in the clan).
We topped it off with some Gajjar ka Halwa, an Indian dessert made of shredded carrots roasted in butter extract (ghee).
Bottom Line: Tandoori Station is perhaps one of Madrid’s finest Indian restaurants. The ambiance, service, and food are great and the place offers decent ‘bang for the buck’.
Cibeles Palace and Madrid by Night
After lunch, we went back to the hotel room for a bit of R&R before heading out once more for a nice long walk. We started off by walking toward the Plaza de Cibeles from which we were planning on watching the sunset.
On the 8th floor of the Cybele Palace is an observation deck open to the public. It features sweeping views of Madrid and the mountains to the north of the city. Entry fee is around 3 Euros per person if I recollect correctly.
I was a little disappointed to be honest that I couldn’t get a classic picture of Madrid because some of the buildings were undergoing a face lift. But the views from the observation deck of the rest of the city more than made up for it.
If they day were clearer, a visitor could easily see the snow capped mountains surrounding the city. The density of the city and abundance of old world style architecture added tremendously to the beauty of the cityscape.
After nightfall, I walked around the streets of Madrid for a chance at some long exposure shots. This was a terrible idea on my part because Madrid in March is terribly windy and all I had was my rain coat. It’s a miracle a I didn’t catch anything.
On our last day in Madrid we visited the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family.
Important Note: I would highly recommend consulting the palace website for timings and tickets because Google’s list of timings for the palace are not accurate (winter hours are different from summer hours). In fact we tried to visit the previous evening but failed to do so because we arrived just after closing time.
Entry to the palace costs 5 Euros for students and 11 Euros for adults. Full details and pricing may be found on the Palace website. Just across from the palace itself is the Almudena Cathedral, which was the first cathedral in the new capital of Spain. Since its completion in or around 1993, it has been the host of royal weddings and other events pertaining to the royal family.
The front facade of the Royal Palace of Madrid, reminds one of the grandeur of Versailles and serves as yet another example of European Baroque architecture. Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed to be taken during the palace upon crossing the main foyer. The palace is in itself tiny compared to Versailles, but as you walk through there is no denying the grandeur under which Spanish nobility lived.
Upon exiting the palace, I noticed that the front courtyard was rather empty. And so I had to have my signature jumping picture taken.
Madrid City Centre:
After our tour of the palace, we headed out for a walk through town since it was turning out to be a fairly sunny day. Madrid is certainly a city with a lot of character and certainly is a treasure trove for photographers. I especially loved the vintage iron sign boards jutting out from the buildings.
Madrid is a must visit destination in Europe. The city is safe, clean, and of course has a lot of that old world charm that is expected of any European city. Nice restaurants are affordable, and discounts are widespread for students at or under the age of 25, making it one of the best values in Europe. I would not hesitate to come back and check out some of the other palaces and Spanish towns surrounding the city.
Have you been to Madrid? How would you compare it to other cities in Europe?