Thursday, October 11, 2012

Madrid by Foot - One Day Walking Tour

We arrived in Madrid around noon, our train pulled into the station amid large industrial buildings and widely spaced homes. Thirty minutes later we popped up on Gran Via, from the underground metro system, surrounded by the honking horns* of eight lanes of traffic and sidewalks crowded with tourists toting multiple shopping bags. It felt as if we'd been plopped down in the middle of Times Square without a map or any sense of where to go - although I've never been to New York so perhaps it's nothing like that at all.

Our accommodation (Hospedaje Romero) was located a few blocks down, a wonderful room close to everything that also offered some quiet from the hustle just outside. The building was lovely too and featured an antique wooden lift encircled by a marble staircase. We felt a bit too grimy for a place so nice - especially considering we hadn't had an opportunity to do laundry in quite a while, and had adopted the classic backpacker odor everyone knows and loves. That night clean clothes won out over exploration, and we headed for the nearest laundromat, which our lovely hosts promptly called around to find, just three blocks away (it's proximity to our hotel was surely a sign).

Smelling fresh and well rested after a good sleep, we set out to explore Madrid our first morning. Our hosts had provided us with a map upon arrival and had pointed out some areas of interest (I love when they do that), so it was easy to roughly map out our walking route - starting from Gran Via heading East, circling back at the Plaza de Cibeles to hit the Mercado de San Miguel (indoor market with tapas) for lunch, and ending with a visit to the Palacio Real and Madrid Cathedral. 

Below is a map that highlights the walk and some corresponding photos of the amazing architecture we saw.

View Madrid Walking Tour in a larger map

As we made our way along Gran Via we were amazed by the sheer number of architecturally stunning buildings so deserving of our undivided attention - making it nearly impossible to take everything in and simultaneously sidestep the busy shoppers that crowd the sidewalk.

We were blessed with bright blue skies early in the morning

The large neon Schweppes sign

Reflection of old and new buildings that line the Gran Via

More amazing buildings met us at the Plaza de Cibeles

The extremely photogenic Metropolis Building

Large chariot statues - are we in Vegas or Madrid?

Plaza Mayor is full of rich history and wonderfully painted buildings

Busy shopping streets throughout Madrid
Colourful tapas at the Market of San Miguel

We weren't the only ones interested in the tasty tapas!

Almudena Cathedral is one of our favorites from this walk

The Cathedral's modern interior features bright colours

We admired the Palacio Real from the outside...

...And from this lovely park across the street.

We then ventured up to the Temple of Debod

Finally wrapping up our walk in the Plaza Espana

A monument to Cervantes in the plaza

Overall, 4-6 hours is plenty of time to take pictures and sample some tapas along this route; if you want to explore any of the attractions in detail or do some shopping definitely add in a few hours. With all that Madrid has to offer, a walk like this is a perfect introduction to the city!

And... all our Madrid photos are now up on Flickr! As always, you can peruse all of our travel pictures there, just click on the Photos tab on our homepage.   

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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