Although we really didn't want to leave Barcelona (evident in the fact that we nearly missed the train) we were keen to see another side of Spain. On reflection some of the best parts of this trip were in transit. It was amazing to be able to get on a train going up to 300kms an hour and just look out at the scenery rolling past.
On arrival we instantly noticed a city that was rougher and perhaps a little less beautiful than where we had just been.
When our train pulled into Atocha station we felt slightly intimidated by the chaos and pace of this new place. We hailed a taxi to take us to the first of our Air B&B apartments. We were a little on edge to find our accommodation located in what seemed to be a slightly dodgy area. We knocked on the door of the apartment and no one answered. We waited wondering if we should start googling hotels. Eventually I managed to make contact with our host and we were taken up about ten flights of stairs to our little sanctuary. (Flights of stairs will be an on-going theme during this trip)
Our host Concha had made the place feel like a home away from home. She had a fridge full of fresh fruit ,coffee , fresh milk and a baked treats . Christmas carols were pumping and a Santa display with Christmas cards decorated the lounge room. Concha had no English, we had no Spanish, but it didn't matter.
We stayed in Madrid for four days which really only allowed us to scratch the surface of this coulourful city. Over time we found some amazing things to do including rowing boats on a lake in Retiro Park. We ate lunch and drank beer while a man with a saxophone belted out 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' from the bank. It was cold but we were happy.
I can't tell you how magical Retiro Park is - it was easily one of my favourite things on this whole trip. I t was like walking into a Tim Burton movie. Highlights included the Crystal Palace and the beautiful Black swans.
We had some great times in this city; we ate tapas until midnight, visited a range of tourist attractions and frequented some amazing bars. We learnt how to pour apple cider (the proper Madrid way) and we even ate bull’s brains... but that’s another story. There is a photograph towards the end of this post with Lauren standing over some writing on the road. They say if you want to return to Madrid you should stand over this point. Who were we to argue?