Travel TopOfBlogs Past and future wanderings of a travel bug . . .: A Year ago today I was in . . .Madrid!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Year ago today I was in . . .Madrid!

This time last year I was in Madrid, the capital of Spain. Previously having only been to Barcelona I was in for a treat between the food, the sights and the art! It was a very short trip but it made an impression on me nonetheless.

I really liked this city, although I must admit being in the middle of Spain it is still quite cold in January. The picture you see of me here was taken by yours truly at the top of the Alcazar in Segovia, Spain which is just a short train trip outside of the capital. As elsewhere in Europe if you want to take a day trip and don't have access to a private car, taking the train is the way to go. Madrid is served by two train stations. Once you figure out where you would like to go, visit the tourist information office and they will happily point you in the right direction. The train is also very cost effective. If you decide to go to Segovia and want to go to the Alcazar there are public buses which I suggest. It would be a rather long walk.

Other things to see in Segovia include the stunning Cathedral and the Roman Aqueduct which can been as you come into the town. It's amazing now and hard to believe that it was constructed during the Roman Empire. Today it is an UNESCO World Heritage site. What I really went to Segovia to see was the Alcazar. The Alcazar (which is an Arabic word for a castle or fortress) in Segovia has been a royal residence, a prison, and even a military academy. Today it is more of a museum and a beautiful one at that. There are suits of armor, stained glass, paintings and even a tower you can climb for a few extra Euros. If you don't mind a cramped staircase (it's the same way up and down) and a bit of a climb the view is superb.

Another good day trip from Madrid is out to El Escorial. El Escorial is located in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Take the train here as well. From the station the monastery is good walk away, however it is uphill. The site, like the Aqueduct in Segovia is an UNESCO world heritage site. It has been a royal palace, a monastery and a museum as well. It is also the resting place of Spanish monarchy and their families. If you decide to visit the only way to see the crypts is either by talking a guided tour or by paying for the audio guide. Do it if you are even slightly interested. If you are ready for lunch when you are done, and it is midday try one of the local restaurants menu del dia (or menu of the day). You'll get a 3 course meal with some sort of a beverage for a set reasonable price.

When you get back to the city, Madrid has amazing art museums on offer, great food and much more. The big three museums are the Thyssen, the Prado and the Reina Sofia. I made it to two of the 3. The Prado museum houses a great variety of works including the Spanish masters. If you are a Goya fan and only have time to see one museum go here. If you are a Picasso fan on the other hand and want to see Guernica go to the Reina Sofia. After, wander the city in the evening, go dancing if your up for it and try out some local tapas and Spanish wine. You'll be glad you did.

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