If you are looking for a reasonably priced hotel in Madrid that is very close to the train station, then I would recommend the Agumar Hotel. The only catch is you had better not be planning on going to sleep before midnight and being up by 07:30, because the walls are paper thin and act like amplifiers. The hotel is also very close to Retiro Park, 580 metres to entrance by GPS which is wonderful for your morning run if you are so inclined.
Went for several walks and a couple of runs in Retiro Park. It is truly amazing to me when a municipality will maintain that much beautiful space for the enjoyment of the public. Well done Madrid!!
For dinner we utilized Trip Advisor to select a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. It was rated #5 of all the Madrid restaurants on Trip Advisor and well worth the rating I must say. It certainly is not a place you would be walking past and say “Hey, let’s try this place!” But the food was wonderfully tasty, the service was outstanding (though no one spoke a word of English), the cook even came out to confirm we enjoyed the food. And to boot, it was very reasonable. It was 30 euros for 3 dishes plus dessert shared between the two of us and two glasses of wine each.
The next day we did the Hop on Hop off bus around Madrid. Rather chilly in the morning, but warmed up through the day. We had lunch at the James Joyce Irish Pub. The food was ok but the real excitement when you eat outside under the trees are the decorations the birds send your way. Karen’s wallet took a hit and she was caught in the spray. Hell of a mess really. They did give her a free shirt, which was very nice of them. No free meal though.
Saturday morning the scariest part of the trip began. We took the bus shuttle to the Madrid airport to pick up our rental car. We got a black Volvo V40 four door from Hertz. I was very nervous about driving in Spain but after a couple of days I have to say things are going very well. (Bearing in mind that the first two days were Saturday and Sunday so traffic volume was reduced) Overall the drivers I have encountered so far are amazingly obedient to the speed limits and very patient with each other. A piece of advice I would throw out there would be to splurge and buy the most up to date maps possible for your GPS. We have borrowed one and they are obviously a few years old. It makes things interesting to say the least.
Our first stop after leaving Madrid was Toledo. Once again Karen found an excellent hotel for our stay there. Hotel Beatriz is very high class with reasonable rates.
We toured a huge museum Saturday, the Alcazar of Toledo. (You can see it in the background above)
Sunday morning we tried to get to the Cathedral in Toledo. The reviews we had read on it made it a must see. Well, it didn’t happen. After two closed roads and a trip through the labyrinth that is European cities old streets we decided to head south to Granada and the Alhambra. A comment I will make on the roads in Spain. I love the ridiculous number of traffic circles they have. It makes missing your turn or taking a wrong exit no big deal because you are usually no more than 300 metres from a traffic circle so you can correct yourself.