The sun may be making a more regular appearance nowadays, but the wind still possesses an icy bite that sends my hands blue with cold whenever I have the cheek to venture outdoors. It therefore seemed like the perfect time to abandon merry England and fly across to the sunny city of Madrid.
Taking advantage of some free accommodation courtesy of my brother (an inflatable mattress on the floor was surprisingly comfortable), I booked three days to spend exploring the city and sampling the best sangria on offer.
Sadly, this journey meant that I had a wonderful 2.30am start in order to drive out of the black hole that is Norwich and reach Stansted. I was also nervous as I was flying solo – something that I had never done before. Fortunately everything was on time and my flight even arrived a little early. Miracles do happen!
Once my excess baggage was offloaded at my sibling’s flat, I put on the sunnies and went on a tour guided by my brother. We started off by heading towards the palace and the cathedral. Time did not allow us to peek inside either, but I got a good sense of the grandeur of the place. We then headed over to an Egyptian temple, a slightly incongruous site in the middle of Spain. It was apparently gifted to the Spanish state in 1968 after Spain intervened to help preserve other temples (find out more here). For now, this is probably as close as I will get to actually see Ancient Egyptian monuments in the flesh, so it was a particular highlight for me. Annoyingly, there was a long queue to see inside, so we deferred it for another day, only to find out that it was closed. C’est la vie!
From the temple you can get some good views over Madrid. From this vantage point the city is surprisingly green, with the urban landscape giving up to the countryside very quickly.
We then hunted around for somewhere to eat, and eventually settled on a Greek restaurant. Yes, some Spanish cuisine would perhaps have been more fitting, but it was recommended to us by some of my brother’s colleagues and it turned out to be a real find. If you are visiting and fancy a change from paella, check out Dionysus Huertas.
We finished off the day in the scorching sunshine wandering round a rather beautiful park. It boasted an impressive glasshouse and a stunning lake, on which many people were chaotically trying to row boats. If you have a sharp eye, you may be able to spot parakeets hiding in the trees. Unfortunately I couldn’t spot any, but you may have better luck.
On the way there we spotted a very strange vehicle on the roads – it was powered by two rows of enthusiastic people who were cycling… Next time I visit, I am definitely booking a place.
After a mammoth amount of walking (and the early start), I was ready for bed, although a little bit of sangria in the evening helped to soothe the way.