Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days

Tripoto
12th Sep 2015

Las Ventas Bullfighting Ring - Madrid

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

El Rastro Flea Market, Madrid

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Hot Chocolate + Churros at San Gines, Madrid

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Approaching Toledo

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Toledo bird's eye view

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Toledo Cathedral

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Alcazar, Toledo

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

13th Century Moorish Bridge, Toledo

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

2000 yr old Roman Aqueduct - Segovia

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

21000 Granite blocks, no cement used!

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

167 arches perfectly preserved over 2000 yrs!

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Plaza Mayor & Cathedral - Segovia

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

View from Alcazar

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Iglesias de la Vera Cruz - Segovia

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Alcazar, Segovia

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Templo de Debod - A 200 BC Egyptian temple

Photo of Hola España!!! Madrid & Around in 4 Days by Prashant Pundir

Madrid - a city literally buzzing 24*7 with the excitement of camera toting tourists & lively local Madrileños alike - its a place that knows how to live life. Whatever you are looking for - art, architecture, gastronomy, nightlife, sport - Madrid's got em all! While the third largest city of Europe houses a sizable urban dwelling along its periphery, it has taken great care to leave the historic city center well preserved, and in fact enhanced its appeal over the years blending the new with the old. Madrid is best enjoyed on foot, with the area spread out between Cibeles Plaza to the East & the Royal Palace to the West packing enough attractions to keep you occupied for days, if not weeks. During summers, the days can be long, so dinner in Madrid typically starts late - around 9 till 11 PM. On most evenings, Madrileños prefer hopping places, buffeting their Sangria with handy portions of Tapas. No wonder they can party into the wee hours of the night! Interestingly, the very reason Tapas came into existence was that the King did not want his subjects getting drunk in the lunch hour itself, so he made it mandatory for all establishments in Spain to offer free Tapas with each drink. Tip - Take a walking/bus tour on your first day to get oriented with the city, then spend the remaining days dwelling upon the ones that piqued your curiosity the most. 

Haughtily perched over a cliff top, encircled by River Tagus on all sides, Toledo presents a formidable sight as you make your way into the town. The Alcazar dominates the skyline, while the extravagant Cathedral's spires make up the background. The city transports you right back to the medieval era, but be warned - the winding & steep pathways can be exasperating. Expect to get lost & tired - take a full day to take in Toledo. Its less than an hour away from Madrid by high speed Renfe train, or two hours by bus. Tip - Avoid the Hop on Hop Off bus, at best it gives you two photo ops on the way for double the price of a normal bus. The streets of Toledo are too narrow, so you will anyway have to take it on foot once in the town.

While Toledo leaves you a bit disoriented, Segovia is a much gentler & more rewarding day trip from Madrid. Why? A perfectly preserved 2000 year old Roman Aqueduct stretching across majestically right in the middle of the city, & an 11th Century Alcazar castle perched atop a hillock overlooking sweeping plains, influenced by all major artistic styles the world has seen in the last 1000 years. The bus from Madrid drops you off right at the Aqueduct. After feasting your eyes & clicking enough pictures for a lifetime, you can take the short fleet of stairs right into the old town. All the attractions are neatly lined up with prominent signages. You cannot get lost here, all roads lead ultimately to the Alcazar at the other end of the town. En route, catch your breath at the Plaza Mayor with the Gothic 15th century cathedral in the background. Finally, head to Alcazar perched on a rocky crag - shaped like the bow of a ship - the views from its towers are truly stunning.

We spent a total of 4 nights in Madrid, with 2 day trips to Toledo (by high speed AVE train) & Segovia (by Bus). 

Lovely plaza at the end of Gran Via, leading to the museum mile

Fountain at Cibeles Plaza

Photo of Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Passage near Cibeles Fountain

Photo of Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

The Cibeles Palace

Photo of Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

The quintessential victory gate

One of these seems to exist in every major city of the world!

Photo of Puerta de Alcala, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Lively plaza, best for a quick recharge on the way back from the museums!

Plaza Santa Ana with plenty of cafes serving Tapas & Sangria

Photo of Plaza Santa Ana, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

The center of all things Madrid - Tapas, Sangria, Jamon!

The Iconic Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Photo of Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Past the midnight mark at Plaza Mayor

Photo of Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Oldest Restaurant in the world, located next to Plaza Mayor

Prior reservation required!

Photo of Botín, Calle Cuchilleros, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Inventor of chocolcate san churros, still makes the best in the world!!! Madrid folks swear by its thick hot chocolate especially after a night of heavy partying to keep hangover at bay...

The best Chocolate & Churros in the world!!!

Photo of Chocolatería San Gines, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Chocolatería San Gines, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Fusion cathedral, built on a spot occupied previously by Madrid's oldest Mosque, striking arches

The striking spires of Cathedral Almudena

Photo of Almudena Cathedral, Calle de Bailén, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Front facade of Cathedral Almudena

Photo of Almudena Cathedral, Calle de Bailén, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Majestic royal palace, located on a hilltop with a commanding view of the city

Palace - view from the gardens side

Photo of Royal Palace of Madrid, Calle de Bailén, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Front view of the Royal Palace's massive courtyard

Photo of Royal Palace of Madrid, Calle de Bailén, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Teatro Real, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Flea market, street performances, set meals... makes for a lively afternoon!

Photo of El Rastro, Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir

Plaza de Toros - The (in)famous bull fighting arena of Madrid!

Photo of Ventas, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Toledo, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Segovia, Spain by Prashant Pundir
Photo of Temple de Debod, Calle Ferraz, Madrid, Spain by Prashant Pundir
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