Posted by: debrakolkka | April 8, 2011

A hot day in Madrid

We were up early to catch the 337 bus from Chinchon to Madrid. It took 45 minutes and it was nice not to have to think about where we were going. The bus dropped us near the centre of the city and we took the lazy option and went by taxi to Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor in the centre of old Madrid

decoration in Plaza Mayor

The square was begun in 1617 and only took a couple of years to build. The statue in the centre is of Felipe III who ordered the square to be built. The square is now lined with shops, including the information centre where you can buy the tour bus tickets.

Felipe III

We took the tour bus because it is a good way to get your bearings in a new city. When we got on, the only seats were down the back, facing the wrong way and we could see nothing except parked cars. With a bit of wrangling we worked our way to the top of the bus and in a couple of moves, into the front seats. This takes years of practice. We could see very well from our new positions, but the bus was mind numbingly slow and the commentary didn’t match what we were looking at. Anyway, we did the complete loop, not daring to get off because there were queues of people waiting at each stop. Despite its shortcomings it did give us an idea of what we wanted to see.

Neptune's fountain

Opposite another puny Neptune we came across a group of lively musicians. Lucky them, they scored the euro coin I found on the floor of the tour bus.

wonderful street musicians

We wandered down the very pretty Paseo del Prado which has a central walkway and garden. This street has several galleries and museums. It was nice to be under the shade of the trees on such a hot day.

the walkway in Paseo del Prado


We had lunch at a very pretty restaurant under the trees. 

 Madrid has the most beautiful parks and gardens. We had a wander in a huge park off Calle de Alfonso XII.

the entrance to the park

a very grand path

the huge lake in the park

street/lake performer

We wandered to the huge Royal Palace. While trying to figure out where to buy tickets we notice a terrible stench. I checked my shoes, Jim checked his shoes,  we checked each others shoes, but could see nothing. Then we noticed other people looking at their shoes. One chap was checking his thongs for encrustations, you wouldn’t want to mess up your dress thongs, would you? (flip flops for non Australians) I happened to look across to the gardens and noticed manure scattered over the new grass. I could imagine the gardeners hiding behind a shed laughing at tourists contorting themselves looking for dog poo.

the Royal Palace

No photos are allowed inside the palace (unfair) or I could have shown you the 400 square metre banquet hall  and the room entirely covered with porcelain tiles.

the enormous sprawl of Madrid from the palace grounds

part of the palace gardens

pantaloons and a pigeon - lucky man

We wandered down the lively Calle del Arenal in the late afternoon with the other Madrid wanderers – the equivalent of the Italian passeggiata.

Calle del Arenal

There was a delightful bookshop near Pasadozo de San Gines.

lovely bookshop

We strolled around the old streets. I love the street signs.

street sign

looking in the deli window

The balconies have thoughtfully placed tiles on the underside for the benefit of those looking up.

balcony tiles

We ended our day in Madrid back where we started – at Plaza Mayor which was full of football supporters getting ready for the game.

Plaza Mayor

Back on the bus to Chinchon.


  1. Great photos! Sounds like a very fun city. Spain’s definitely on my list.

    • Wait until you see Toledo, Cordoba and Seville – soon to come.



  4. It looks that it is already summer in Madrid, it is so green! Wonderful pictures! (Greetings from Helsinki, it is just about +1C here and it was snowing yesterday!)

    • It was green – and HOT.

  5. Sounds like a beautiful day! jealous!!

    • If it hadn’t been 35 degrees it would have been a whole lot better.

      • Just did a conversion-that is hot!

      • Yes, it is very hot and anyone who knows me knows how much I hate the heat.

  6. My main memory of Madrid in the 70s was being taken to a run-down area scheduled for demolition. Activists had won a stay of execution for it by getting famous artists to paint murals on the walls. Who would demolish a Miro mural?

    I remember a huge reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica.

    Is this outdor gallery still there? Do you or does anyone know?

    • I don’t know, but perhaps someone out there does.

  7. Great pictures! The huge park is called the Parque del Retiro, I’m not sure if you saw it while inside but there’s a beautiful greenhouse called the “Palacio de Cristal” – it’s well worth a look.

    And while in the centre of Madrid ask around for the Mercado de San Miguel, it’s the perfect place for a lunch of tapas. Though it’s popular the market still retains quite a laidback feel.

    I would also recommend the very Spanish district of La Latina. For drinks and local Madrileño food it’s hard to beat.

    • I thought that was the Retiro, thanks for the confirmation and the other tips. We didn’t see the greenhouse – next time.

  8. I’m going to Seville in May!!! You have to update me 🙂 🙂

    p.s MADRID HERE I COME. xox

    • Seville is my favourite place so far, I liked it much more than Madrid. There will be a post soon.

  9. I liked Felipe III’s jaunty moustache, wonder if he was jaunty himself…? When I think of Spain, all I can think of is with the Spanish Inquisition and sombre buildings. I love all your pictures, especially the gardens, the balcony tiles and the deli window, just about everything, really. The wonderful thing about your blog, Deb, is that we get to read good suggestions from other fans, so, thanks, James, for your tips re the best places to eat and visit. I’ll put that on the list for future plans to explore Madrid.

    • James has a great blog, I’ll send you the link when I am better organised.

  10. I love Madrid, it is such a brilliant city. Do try to get to Salamanca if you’re in the area and with a car, it’s my favourite city in all of Spain (along with Barcelona of course). I hope you’re enjoying all the delicious Spanish tapas and unbeatable Iberian ham. Qué disfrutáis vuestro viaje!

    • We didn’t get to Salamanca unfortunately – next time. The ham is great, not so keen on tapas. I loved Barcelona much more than Madrid.

  11. My husband and I spend a few days in Madrid in 1989 for discussions on logistics for Expo 2002 at Seville. We had agreat time and I do remember eating at Botin a restaurant in a building dating back to the 16th century, actually the oldest restaurant in the world, byGuiness Book of Records. Food was fantastic.
    We loved Madrid and certainly enjoyed the Prado.

    • The Prado is a great street, you could spend weeks just there. I’ll have to go back.

  12. I long to return for better look. Such a grand city, isn’t it? Happy trails as you see more of Spain.

    • It is a really grand city with lots of huge monuments and lovely parks – my favourite bit.

  13. Great! I’m looking forward to more of your Spanish journey. I am totally in love with Spain !

    • There are some more amazing cities to come.

  14. I’d love a stroll down Paseo del Prado, what a beautiful walk. And, what about that street/lake performer eh 😉

    • Paseo del Prado was very lovely – and hot.

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