PICTURESQUE, MAGNIFICENT AND BEAUTIFUL

I found Madrid a very picturesque, pretty city and the architecture was magnificent.

I spent two nights in Madrid on my way back from Marbella. I stayed in a very central hotel called Victoria 4 Hotel which was right next to the Sol Train Station. I couldn't have wished for a better location.

I arrived at my hotel at about 6pm and being so central, it was easy to leave our bags at the hotel and go exploring immediately. First stop was the Prada Museum. It is free between 6pm and 8pm at night. This is a must for art lovers as it houses some of the finest art collections in the world. Most of the shops close at about 10pm so there was still time to look around before going back to the hotel.

The next morning, we visited Toledo. It was about a 30-minute train ride from Madrid to Toledo. Once in Toledo, one can choose to take a bus straight into the old city or to take a scenic ride around the outside of the city wall on an open top bus with a recorded guide. We chose the second option which I would recommend as we got to travel around the outskirts of the walled city before being dropped just outside the wall and it was easy to get around the city from there. It cost EUR10 and it also included a bus ride back to the station in Toledo that afternoon.

Toledo was declared a World Heritage site in 1986. It is famed for its production of iron, especially swords. It is still well known for its manufacture of knives and other steel implements. I found it to be very historic and pretty. There were narrow little roads with cobbled streets and beautiful little shops and restaurants everywhere. The view from the outskirts of the city was amazing - I felt like I was looking into a picture book! The Tagus River skirts the wall of the city on three sides, which just seems to add to its charm.

The following g day I did a “Madrid Vision” Tour which is a hop-on, hop-off bus tour around the city. It costs EUR16 and is valid for the whole day. There is an “old city” route and a “new Madrid” route. You can combine it and do both routes. I did both routes and would recommend doing it. We saw wonderful monuments and sights such as the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor, Gran Via and the cities many historic buildings and squares, which make this one of Europe’s most attractive cities for sightseeing. I found it to be a very beautiful city with lots of fountains and statues throughout the city and the architecture was spectacular too. I was there at the end of November and there were magnificent Christmas lights everywhere.

The airport was very well organised, with clear signage everywhere. It would be difficult to get lost there! It is a very big airport with lots of flights coming and going all the time, but it never felt overcrowded and it was also very clean. There are trains between terminals and the security was excellent.

I am very glad I visited Madrid and Toledo. It was a wonderful experience.

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