Plaza Mayor: This is a central tourist attraction, and be prepared for a lot of street performers awaiting you inside. The site has a sordid history, being the setting for many trials during the Spanish Inquisition.
Walking Around: There is plenty to see just walking the main thoroughfares, from popular architecture (like the Metropolis building below) to beautifully preserved homes and cathedrals.
Parque De Retiro: Definitely stop by the free central park (it's on your way to the Museo Del Prado anyway) for some great views and relaxed strolling.
|We had an unfortunately overcast day in Madrid for the Crystal Palace (located within the park) so it was a bit underwhelming. In sunlight it is supposed to look like a giant crystal (below):|
Places to Eat:
I have to say Madrid was another city we didn't do too well on food. Most of the more recommended places to eat from my internet research were well outside of the central (more touristy) part of the city where we stayed, and since we didn't have a car, walking wasn't really an option. The best food we ate was at a tourist-trapy open market called Mercado De San Miguel. It's decidedly overpriced and geared towards Westerners that are used to the farmer's market boutique atmosphere, but you can get a great sampling of fresh food and plenty of sangria (at a reasonable price!) here. If you don't like the smell of fish, you may not like any of the Spanish markets though, because fresh fish are what these places are made for.
Other than this market, we just ate a lot of local bocadillos. Basically people seem to subsist on these. You stop in any small/local looking joint and it is all bocadillos all the time. The bread is hard on the outside, and it is just meat and cheese in between the slices. My mouth was constantly dry. I was not a huge fan, but we ate these almost the entire trip because they are very inexpensive.
|Mmm patatas bravas are right up there with street churros for best totally unhealthy Spanish food endulgences via|
Stay tuned next week for the best of the Madrid art museums -- places you could literally spend the rest of your life inside and still maybe not see everything...