Madrid is an easy city to enjoy. It has a low-stress vibe, great food, reasonably priced hotels and excellent public transport.
Madrid Barajas Airport is well connected to the city centre. The Express Aeropuerto bus runs throughout the day and night, there is a regional train service (Cercanias), plus the Metro.
I arrived very late. My flight was delayed and with no space in the overhead lockers, my cabin bag had to travel in the hold. It was past midnight when I was leaving the airport. The Metro is a 15-minute walk from Terminal 1, I was tired, frazzled and very happy with the €30 fixed rate for the speedy taxi ride to my hotel. Daytime traffic might make this less attractive.
The 10 trip travel card at €12.20, works extremely well to get around the city on the Metro and buses. The metallic strip on my ticket conked out twice, but attendants were always available and happy to replace the faulty card. The regional Cercanias trains are another option.
I had a side trip to Toledo, a 30 minute trip from the spacious, gardened Atocha railway station. I arrived at the station unaware that these RENFE trains quickly become fully booked, there wasn’t an available seat on the next two trains. There is only one train every hour, €10.30, very comfortable, fast and air-conditioned but with only three coaches. There is a bus service which is cheaper and takes much longer, but no regional train. I booked my return ticket to avoid further surprises.
Staying and Eating
The Serrano district is my favourite for a short business trip, it’s fairly central but away from the tourist crowds. It has wide streets full of swanky shops but a short walk to the more affordable stores. There are lots of hotels, cafes and a choice of Metro and buses.
In Spain, there is some kind of delicious meal or snack available at every time of day or night. The authentic breakfast is pan con tomato (toasted bread with tomato), but I enjoy coffee and pastries in a Panaderia. If lunch is the main meal, I’ll have a Menu del Dia and snacks or tapas in the evening. Delicious light meals are a favourite for me in the café on the top floor of the department store El Corte Ingles or the Pasteleria Mallorca where they also serve great snacks to take away. Both have extremely tasty food, wine if you want it and friendly staff.
My visit was to attend the Matua Madrid Tennis Open where the food was less appealing and I was surprised that the security agents seemed to be diligently searching for picnics. My fruit and snacks were confiscated and the lady in front of me, on being patted down, had her sandwich discovered and removed. Security is a serious issue but removing food from people attending sports events is most unusual. The woman in the seat next to mine was lactose intolerant and without her snacks, there was little she could eat.
There are highs and lows at the airport Departure, the sponsored wi-fi is slow, the toilets could do with more servicing, but the airport is spacious with lots of café/restaurant options. I had Lavazza coffee in the trendy looking café that was a subtle part of Burger King. Fairly healthy looking salads and sandwiches were also available.
This time I queued early at the departure gate and ensured that my cabin bag stayed in the cabin.
It’s a shame to have to leave Madrid.
© ExtraVitality 2017