April 17, 2019
Well, here we are in Madrid. International travel is exhausting. 10 hour flight from L.A. to Madrid. We left L.A. at 8 PM local on the 15th and got here on time at 3:40 PM local on the 16th, and after taxiing for almost 15 minutes (big airport) we got off the plane after 4 PM. We found Amanda, patiently waiting. Didn’t have time for sightseeing, just went to our condo , unpacked, went to dinner, and went to bed. Yesterday 4/17 was our real first day here.
We are staying in a beautiful little condo in San Sebastian de los Reyes. A North suburb of Madrid. Close , but North of the airport. If I was better at planning I would have got something closer to the center of the city. The subway system is great and fairly easy to navigate, especially with Amanda’s help. It takes 45 min to an hour to get downtown by subway. There are plenty of restaurants and other amenities here, like a pretty cool supermarket close by and the condo is very comfortable with every convenience. We started our first day with a trip to Mercadona, about a 10 min walk, for a few groceries and then to the subway for a trip into town.
Our first major stop was at the Reina Sophia, one of the most magnificent art museums in the world. Beautiful architecture, Picasso, Miro, Gris and many many many more. Too much to see in the few hours we had. Then we went to the beautiful Retiro Park. Beautiful gardens, fountains, big lake. A delightful experience.
The food is very good here and for the most part, very reasonably priced. Although we seemed to find the high priced restaurant, the wine everywhere is about 3-4 euros, and beer is 2 - 3, and the wine is waaay good.
To finish off the day we went back downtown and watched a Semana Santa procession. It was just us and 30 or 40 thousand of our best friends. Karma works, so we got a very good spot to watch the procession. I was right up front and as close as anyone could get. After the subway ride and a few housekeeping details we went to bed at about 1:30 AM or so. A great ending to an amazing first day..
We left beautiful but crowded Madrid and our wonderful translator Amanda early this morning, bound for Salamanca and another destination, Porto, Portugal. We thought it would be prudent to split the long bus ride (about 9 hrs) with a short stay in Salamanca. After experiencing some angst about really being on our own we managed to get to the bus station and left on time. This when we first experienced the reality of Madrid rush hour traffic for the first time. Wow. We realized instantly how protected we had been by riding the subway. We were in bumper to bumper traffic for the better part of an hour and we were going in the opposite direction of the majority of traffic. We only were on a crowded subway once, and that was just for a few stops.