In this episode we take the train from Barcelona to Madrid to spend another couple days eating, drinking sangria, and taking in the sights. We also take a day trip to the nearby town of Toledo for see another iconic central Spanish place.
Make sure to listen to our Barcelona episode that goes along with this trip. And if you want to take this same itinerary see our Spain Travel Guide to download the exact route and itinerary to enjoy too.
Madrid & Toledo – Episode Transcript
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad Podcast. Today we’re continuing on with the theme we had last week when we were in Barcelona, but this time we’re talking about our experience in Madrid. Spain.
Yeah. So in Madrid we took more of a leisure approach. We had a great time strolling and getting lost in the city. And one of our tours, our favorite tour that we did was actually in Madrid as well. So I’m so excited to tell you all about Madrid and everything that we did because it is definitely a city you should visit if you’re going to Spain.
2 (1m 18s):
So we just went through a Barcelona episode last week. Now you guys have gone here. In your opinion, now that you’ve been to both, which is your preferred city?
0 (1m 28s):
Oh gosh, Jim, that’s such a tough question because Brittany and I asked that amongst ourselves even while we were there in Madrid and it was really tough to say. Each one kind of has its own unique thing. I would say I really don’t know. I mean that is really tough to say. I think I liked maybe the more leisurely pace in Madrid. I think maybe that’s because we kind of took it that way ’cause I’m sure you could have that in Barcelona. But I feel like Madrid is the capital, it’s touristy but less touristy within Barcelona. So for that aspect, I would say it’s kind of more a, a classical feel.
0 (2m 8s):
And maybe because of that I like it more. But at the same time, Barcelona’s just so great too. It’s really hard to choose. I can’t,
1 (2m 16s):
I liked Exploring the city more in Barcelona, but I liked the classical feel of Madrid and I liked the prices more in Madrid because it was definitely cheaper. The hotels were cheaper, the food was cheaper. So good things about both and and a good split. So I can’t really decide, but I like things from both cities.
0 (2m 37s):
2 (2m 37s):
And then tell me regionally, where is Madrid compared to Barcelona in the country?
0 (2m 43s):
Madrid is in the middle of the country. So you are literally in the middle of the country at this point. Opposite ends from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean dab in the center.
1 (2m 53s):
So last week we talked about a lot of tips for Barcelona, but they were actually for Spain in general. So be sure to listen to that episode. It’s all of the same tips, you know, getting the metro card because Madrid does have a metro system downloading the offline maps, knowing Spanish, we heard more Spanish phrases here. The streets are actually in Spanish, so you’re gonna need your Spanish a little bit more here than you would need it in Barcelona. Making sure you have really good walking shoes. So all of the same tips, be sure to listen in because we go into it in depth in our last episode about Barcelona.
0 (3m 29s):
Yeah, and the only thing I wanna say regarding the tips in particular that’s gonna be different but also not different of course the metro, but the metro is different there. So the metro app that you want for Madrid is the official metro app for the city itself. It’s Metro Day Madrid, so you wanna download that, that way it can help navigate you just as well. And then equally as, so you can go to the website metro Madrid dot es, the ES for is for a spana of course. And then you can basically find, depending on how long you’re gonna be there, you know the cost for the one day, two day, three day et cetera in terms of their metro passes unlimited use. So that’s the only thing that’s kind of different but the same that is specific for Madrid.
0 (4m 11s):
So check it out.
1 (4m 12s):
Yeah. So to get to Madrid from Barcelona, we decided to take the high-speed train. It took about three hours to get there and we left at 8:00 AM from Barcelona and we arrived at 11:12 AM in Madrid. And so we spent the rest of the day in Madrid walking around the town. We stayed at a hotel that wasn’t above the train station this time, but it was in the area. It was within a 10 minute walk and we just decided to take it pretty leisurely. Before
2 (4m 40s):
You get into what you did in Madrid, how were the trains?
1 (4m 43s):
Trains are beautiful. You know, I feel like train travel is better than airplane travel. You get more space underneath the front seat. They have a footrest for you. You have a plug to plug in your cell phone, you have the tray table coming down, there’s spots to store your luggage that are convenient and then you have the storage above you as well. And then they have bathrooms. They even had a bar on the train, we didn’t go check it out, but there is a bar on the train. And the train there was just a single layer train. Our train on the way back was a double decker train.
2 (5m 20s):
Ooh, that’s cool.
0 (5m 21s):
I love train travel when we’re in another country, especially high speed rail. You know, that’s one of the things where, I mean we’ve talked about it before, the US needs to get on it, but that’s a topic for another time. So the train experience was really, really nice. And one thing while just kind of thinking about it before we get into it, you asked geographically where it was, I mentioned where Madrid was one thing that I didn’t say, but of course being in the middle of the country and not along the Mediterranean coast, it’s actually a lot hotter and warm. Like we were there, you know, at the end of a middle to end April. And I’m sure if we were there two weeks past, it’s gonna be a lot more excessively hot. There was already like a 10 degree difference from Barcelona to Madrid.
0 (6m 2s):
But we were on that tail end of the cooler weather before it gets excessively hot. Like when I looked at the 10 day forecast after we left, it was already getting up into the nineties here in May. So it’s getting there. And while we
1 (6m 12s):
Were on this trip, I was posting stories and one of our squads asked us a really good question and it was how much does it cost to travel between Barcelona and Madrid? We got our round trip tickets from Barcelona to Madrid for $45 a person and that was pretty cheap. It’s probably the cheapest you can go. We saw them up to like $180 a person round trip. Depends on the type of trade you’re taking when you’re taking the train, if it’s a peak time, all sorts of things. So you have a lot of options. You’re gonna wanna book your train tickets in advance ’cause when they run outta trains you’re gonna be shit outta luck and have to like get another transportation there. So book that in advance. And my last tip, even though we didn’t really dive into tips is if you are buying a rail pass, we went through rail Europe because it’s a widely known website and it’s good and it’s also bad.
1 (7m 2s):
We got our tickets, we got it for when we wanted, but if you wanna make any changes, it’s a third party website in a sense. So you have to go through them to make the changes. And if you’re trying to do it in a pinch, you’re not likely gonna get the issue resolved and then you’re have to pay more for a different train. Did that happen to you? Well not for Madrid and Barcelona, but we did wanna take a different train back from Toto and we couldn’t because we booked through rail Europe and not directly through the train itself. So definitely do the research to look at what train you’re actually taking and book directly with them if you want the option to change the train. So I think those are great tips, but now we’re gonna dive right into Madrid.
1 (7m 43s):
We checked into our hotel, we’re like let the ground running. We went out for churros and chocolate at a cafe. Hmm.
0 (7m 51s):
And this is one of the really popular things too. I wouldn’t say this falls into their tapas or anything like that, but they are very famous for their churros and chocolate places for dessert and just kind of like a leisurely snack. So they gave us a full basket of churros and then they each brought out a mug for Brittany and I filled with melted chocolate for us to just dump and dunk in there. And that was actually kind of like a nice little snack. And the reason why we did that, we kind of went sweet before savory is because you know, we were working our way kind of to the city center areas and strolling down their big promenade. But before we get that, of course we were hungry and our old roommate and friends, you know Brett and Rachel, they were in Madrid before us.
0 (8m 37s):
You know, if you remember from last week’s episode we met up with them in Barcelona. Well they told us of this really good kind of like little mom and pop shop and an alley where you can get little tapas so to speak, of you know, cheeses and meats, some shrimp, some like olives, things like that. Very inexpensive. So that was along the way to where we needed to go to be in the main city center for the stretch of promenade to walk. That’s very famous but rookie mistake. I don’t know how we did it. We didn’t Google to see when they opened and we got there like an hour before they opened. So we’re like well oh shoot, what’s around? So we got our suite before savory but then popped over to that place and picked up some snacks to give a sustenance for a stroll.
1 (9m 18s):
Yeah, it was a really cute tapas place, literally in an alleyway mom and pop shop. Once it opened people were flocking to it. Like you could tell that it is just a well-known mom and pop shop. People come in, you could tell that the owners know the locals that are going there as well. You just walk up, order what you want. And then they have these little standing tables on the outside.
0 (9m 39s):
Yeah, they were more like barrels really than tables that they had. So really unique aspect. And what was the name of that
1 (9m 45s):
0 (9m 46s):
That little cafe was called LA Constant Day Dore. You know, I don’t know if it’s a little bit of mix of Spanish and cattle on in there. Think so. Forgive me for the pronunciation but La Conia.
1 (9m 60s):
Yeah, so he just picked up a few tap there and we continued on, we decided to take the metro and we took it to the Perthe del Soul, which is a big public square in Madrid. It’s probably one of the best known and busiest places within the city. Think of it as like the city center and like the network of the Spanish roads like radiating out from it. It also has like a famous clock inside of the square and it represents the 12 grapes that you’re supposed to eat at the beginning of the year for good luck. You’re so you’re supposed to eat 12 green grapes at the new year and that’ll give you luck for the entire year.
0 (10m 34s):
I don’t even remember seeing the clock.
1 (10m 36s):
Gotta pay attention
0 (10m 37s):
Jamal. You know what, I was paying attention to the architecture actually. And you know, you kind of asked the question Kim, which one did I like more Barcelona or Madrid at the start of this. And you know what’s funny is like I feel like the architecture in Barcelona in terms of like when you’re walking down alleyways, it kind of has those little Italy vibes so to speak. You know, just kind of the way the stone looks and the coloration on it and everything. And not to say that there weren’t really like fancy nice looking buildings at Barcelona, but Madrid is the capital. It has a little bit more sense of like regalness to it. So a lot of it, I can’t even call it colonial style because again, you know it’s, they’re all country. It’s not like colonized so to speak.
0 (11m 18s):
But that type of colonial style looking buildings that you would expect here in the Americas, they kind of had that in this area. And so that promenade like I just, the architecture was a little bit more like regal and clean and like aristocratic. And so I really appreciated that about like this area and the promenade that we walked down towards. So that’s what I was looking at and I missed the clock tower then at that point. And they had that like little pepe sign that was up at the top. I’ve already forgot what it was, but that just intrigued me. It looked like it was like right out of a Disney movie but in a good way, like this big giant sign.
1 (11m 52s):
And in this plaza as well, there is a bear with a strawberry tree, it’s a statue and it represents a code of arms and Madrid. We actually didn’t know that when we first saw it and we actually saw it on like lots of different ornaments and other representations we’re like, where is the bear? What is the big bear thing? And we looked it up and then realized that there was a statue so we had to go visit it in this square as well. So we did that. I got some pictures of it. Pretty cute actually. The
2 (12m 20s):
First thing that it reminded me of when I saw that was Denver and the downtown bear that they have.
1 (12m 26s):
Oh yes. Except this is a lot smaller. But yes it does remind me of that. ’cause like the Denver bear looks like it’s peeking into the
2 (12m 34s):
1 (12m 35s):
Center. The convention center. And this one’s like reaching up to the strawberry tree. So good in memory Kim. See
2 (12m 41s):
It’s actually a lot smaller of a world than we think.
1 (12m 44s):
Yes it is.
0 (12m 46s):
And then from here, from like Puerto Del Soul, again the big famous square. Then you’re walking this big giant promenade, I wouldn’t say it’s like Lala and Barcelona but it’s like a big street again. It has that kind of colonial style like architecture, regal buildings along the way. But this leads you to Plaza Mayur, which again is another famous big plaza that they have here in Madrid. But what I really like about Lake Plaza Maor is within it itself, like on the bottom level of course ’cause it’s a multi-story building, big giant square but lots of restaurants and shops there. So you see lots of people just casually going about their day. Of course tourists of course too, but I will say the restaurants there clearly are gonna be a lot more overpriced.
0 (13m 33s):
But if you find the right shops and what’s really big out there is calamari sandwiches. They love them. The calamari sandwiches were ironically very inexpensive and we went to one spot in there to pick that up and try it. Not this day at this point in time, but you know the, the sit down restaurants are expensive but if you get the stuff that’s to go and those little shops not very pricey in the area of Plaza Maor.
1 (13m 58s):
Yeah and Plaza Maor is like the main plaza in Madrid. They’re shopping around it. The space has been used for bull fights, Christmas markets, other attractions as well. People were dressed up, you know like when you’re in Vegas and people dress up like on the boulevard for tips and stuff, people were dressed up like that in Plaza Maor wanting tips. So that was interesting. And Jamal got approached by the same guy trying to sell a bracelet as Brett. Oh
0 (14m 27s):
Yeah, well we didn’t even talk about that. So of course you know when you go to any place there’s always kind of like tourist scams. So I guess this is kind of a good tip to bring up in story as well. So not just specific to Madrid or Spain, but lots of places people will come up to you and try to put a bracelet on you and they’re like, oh it’s free, you know, whatever. And then they get it on you and then they kind of trap you and then they’re like, well it requires a donation yet the donation’s $20, 20 euros. So of course it’s not free. And then they trap you and you tell them no and then everybody else who’s with them will come around you and kind of like feel that pressure to like have to pay. So I guess that’s a good tip. Avoid all those people who want to put anything on you, whatever it is.
0 (15m 8s):
But when we were in Barcelona, Brett was telling us one time when we were out at dinner, he’s like, yeah someone approached me tried to put on like the bracelet and do that scam and he was asking like, oh where are you from Africa? And we all got a good laugh because like Brett, if you saw Brett anything you would never guess hair blue eye. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re not gonna assume like Africa. So I don’t know what the shtick is that that person had to like have the conversation just be so crazy to be like what? And then have them talk a little bit more if that’s part of it. But anyway, when we were in Plaza Maor, someone came up to me trying to put on the bracelet. I’m like, no. And he is like, eh, no, no, where are you from? Where are you from? I wanna know. He is like, are you from Africa?
0 (15m 49s):
And we got, I’m like either they all have that same line or I legitimately got approached by the same person that approached Brett to try to put it on him. So we got a good kind of kick out of that. But yeah, good to bring that up for the tips. Avoid tour scams anywhere that you are, but that’s a big one. Don’t fall for the bracelet. Bullshit.
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1 (19m 33s):
Yeah, so we explore plaza maor and then from there one of the Ali ways leads to another area which has the San Miguel market. This is like an equivalent to a Liberty station in San Diego, if you’ve ever been to that market or Boston’s Quincy market. Lots of different little food halls, so not necessarily a market where you’re gonna buy things to bring things home, but it’s gonna be a little food hall that you explore to get little bites and things to eat. They have lots of different things. They had meats and cheeses and desserts and olives and we had this mozzarella toast that was so delicious. Lots of just really small bites to eat that you can eat on the spot drinks as well. We explored the market a little bit.
1 (20m 14s):
It is a little bit over priced I would say like definitely in terms of you could find similar things in local restaurants for a better price, but everything’s all in one area. It’s fun to try, it’s super crowded, it’s hard to walk through. It’s kind of just like this really fun experience just trying to like even get through and see everything that they have.
0 (20m 34s):
Yeah, when we first arrived after we came off of Plaza Maor, it was actually like really, really crowded. But again we were here on a Sunday midday, so of course people are out and about and by the time we made our way back to this area in the evening, just kind of like working our way back to the metro stop and our way back home. It was still busy but definitely not as busy and we were able to secure ourselves, well I don’t wanna say a table, but one of like the standing benches to put our food down, relax and be comfortable. So just know again, of course it, it can be really busy but if you’re there at the right time it’s still gonna be crowded but manageable.
1 (21m 9s):
And we were really on our way to go to the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace was the official residence of the Spanish royal family in the city of Madrid, but now it’s used for like state ceremonies and a museum. So we had 2:30 PM tickets purchased. This was absolutely our favorite tour that we did in all of Barcelona. Ed Madrid, this was the tour to do, it’s actually pretty affordable. It was 12 Euros a person, it came with an audio guide and you’re able to take pictures of some of the rooms, but there’s a certain point where you can no longer take pictures and that’s when you get into the,
0 (21m 44s):
The older private residence.
1 (21m 45s):
Like yeah, like the private residence where the king’s old bedroom, the queen’s old bedroom. Can’t take any pictures of any of that. But I actually kind of like that because when you’re in the palace, every room is so grand, you’re taking pictures, you’re taking it in and you can spend so much time taking pictures. When it gets to the point where you can’t take pictures, the rooms get even more extravagant. Beautiful. And you’re forced to just really be in the moment, take it in and enjoy it and not focus with about like, oh let me get this photo or this shot and it kind of makes a tour go along faster. It didn’t feel as crowded as the other tours we did. So I really enjoyed this.
2 (22m 25s):
I feel like in places like that where it’s so extravagant, so beautiful, when you take a picture it doesn’t really capture it that well anyway.
1 (22m 33s):
It doesn’t, absolutely not. And you just spend time like looking at all of the frescoes on the ceiling and you’re admiring them and then you, if you were to take that picture, you’re just like, when you come back to it later, you’re like, what is that? It doesn’t capture the moment that you were enjoying looking
0 (22m 50s):
At it. Oh yeah, I, I wholeheartedly agree with that And it was just really, you know, mesmerizing. You know, Brittany and I were fortunate enough when we were in London when the queen was still alive. That’s the only time that they would open up the Buckingham Palace to tours is when she was on her holiday in Scotland and we happened to be there at that time and we did it and it was regal and grand and I enjoyed that too. But for whatever reason I would say that the Spanish Royal Palace I enjoyed a lot more because you really did get to see some of the private residents or old ones, right? Like whereas in Buckingham Palace they just showed you kind of like the formal places that they have where they would receive people, banquet hall, et cetera.
0 (23m 32s):
Which is still really cool, really gun up. Now granted the royal family of Spain doesn’t live there anymore, but it’s still the official royal palace and when they have ceremonies, so we still got to go into the throne room so to speak, see the crown, the official like scepter. And of course since they don’t live there anymore, they were talking about like the last kings and queens that were in there, those rooms. And so they really were like private residences. So it was a little bit more intimate and I think that obviously goes to show why they didn’t wanna allow photos to be taken at a certain point. Either like the common public areas that we gotta see in the palace photo free for all once you got to like where the old private residences, the throne room, all that stuff.
0 (24m 13s):
Of course no cameras but you get to really take it all in and a appreciate it and just admire it for its beauty. The
1 (24m 20s):
Palace is huge. The, it has like 3,418 rooms. Wow. You could literally spend all day there. We obviously didn’t go into every room. They told us the tour should be about an hour with the audio guide. We were definitely in there for probably closer to two hours just taking everything. And so enjoy your time there. There’s so much to see, so much to do. If you’re gonna do one tour on a trip to Barcelona and Madrid, I would say this is a tour to do. From there we went across the street, there’s a little plaza de oriente, it’s bordering the royal palace and it has lots of small gardens and statues. It’s a good spot to just like rest your feet, take a quick little break.
1 (25m 3s):
And so we did that just kind of admired the area. And then we went to the church that was also next door to the Royal palace and that cathedral was called Cathedral de la Mondana. It was free. I really liked that In Madrid a lot of the big attractions were free or if they weren’t free they would request like a Euro donation. And it wasn’t like they’re hard monitoring it. You could do the donation or, or you didn’t and you would just walk in and I love that about it versus like I felt like everything in Barcelona there was an entrance price too. So I did that like this a lot about Madrid. Yeah,
0 (25m 40s):
The cathedral was really cool to see. That was right across from the, the royal palace. Brittany obviously being a hospice nurse to some degree has a fascination with death and there happened to be, you know, a crypt in there that was part of the cathedral that Brittany really wanted to to go to and see. So we checked that out and I know it’s kind of like morbid but you know that’s one of the things that’s really common with cathedrals and the Catholic churches having those crips. So we went and actually checked it out Donna very beautifully, no doubt on that end of things. So because it’s free again, they ask for the donation up to you if you wanna give it worth checking out since you’re right there.
0 (26m 20s):
But after we were done with that, we’re like man we are hungry. We only passed the San Miguel market the first time. This time we actually went to say yes we are. Well
1 (26m 29s):
I don’t think you gave the cathedral the crypt any justice Jamal that that cathedral was the first cathedral to be consecrated outside of Rome by Pope John Paul II in 1993. Thank you. Totally went over that. And then in the crypt, the crypt isn’t just for anyone to be buried, it’s for the royal family members to be buried at the cathedral. So when you go to the the crypt, you’re seeing all of these tombstones and things in the crypt of all of these royal family members. So really cool. And inside the crypt there’s like 400 columns and each one has different biblical features or nature scenes or symbols of Madrid that are on the column.
1 (27m 10s):
So it’s very, very beautiful to see now we can go to the market.
0 (27m 13s):
Okay, see how much fascinated Britney is by death. But of course, yes, I I it wasn’t just
1 (27m 18s):
Death part of it was the cathedral too.
0 (27m 20s):
I know. I’m just giving you a hard time on that.
2 (27m 22s):
Quick question though. By this point in the trip you’ve seen cathedrals, are you getting tired of them by this point?
1 (27m 30s):
We actually weren’t sure we were gonna do this cathedral and that was the reason was we’re like we’re gonna have already seen so many but each one is just so beautiful. You can’t help but be kind of curious to look. If it wasn’t free we probably wouldn’t have been done like on on the inside because it was free. It was just nice to like do a quick walking of the grounds. I also feel like when you pay for something, you’re gonna take more time, Exploring it ’cause get your money’s worth versus hey let’s just quickly check this out and then do whatever else we plan to do. So I feel like although we did it, it wasn’t like we spent a ton of time here, we didn’t pay a lot of money. We got to enjoy it for what it was and then just leave the area.
1 (28m 12s):
So I did like that.
0 (28m 13s):
And then like I said, we made our way back to the San Miguel market. We ended up getting ourselves our appetizers and top us from there. What did we end up getting?
1 (28m 23s):
Oh my gosh. So I saw this one little shop in the market. It had this cheese plate, you could get six cheeses. They were topped with like compos or like jams on top and then fruit and it was six for 11 euros that were on toast. It was so good. We got that, we got like a scoop of olives and we got a mozzarella toast and then we also got these little sandwiches. One was an octopus one and the other one was, was it oxtail?
0 (28m 53s):
It was the oxtail,
1 (28m 54s):
Yeah. So we got a ton of little like bites to eat and we got some sangria. The sangria was on tap here as well.
2 (29m 1s):
0 (29m 2s):
Hoo. You would say that. Ooh. And we’re excited about it. Kim Brittany was not so much of a fan of the sangria on tap. I didn’t seem to mind it. Of course it’s on tap and when you think like beer on tap, beer on tap is better than in a bottle. I would say fresh sangria is better than sangria on tap. But I didn’t have a problem with it being on tap. So it doesn’t have as strong as a flavor profile. But still enjoyable to me. But Brittany apparently is a sangria snob and wasn’t hungry on tap.
2 (29m 31s):
Sometimes I can see that on tap because you’re right, it’s not freshly made and who knows how much alcohol they put in it. But it’s also a good sign because it means they sell so much of it that they need a vat on tap for everyone coming through.
1 (29m 46s):
Yeah they, I’m sure they are selling a ton of it. So we went to the market and then this is the night where we were like okay, we’re so full, we’re just gonna go back to our hotel. We took a nap and then we forced ourselves to get up at like 9:00 PM we went to
2 (30m 0s):
Now that’s doing something out of the ordinary for you.
1 (30m 4s):
We forced ourselves to get up at like 9:00 PM We went to a place called Casa Gonzalez and we had a ham and cheese plate there. Oh my god. We got a half portion of both. The half portion of cheese was just like so much, so overwhelming. We had cheese the next day for like a midday snack ’cause there was so much leftover
0 (30m 23s):
Like I couldn’t see as they were prepping the cheese plate and bringing it and Brittany’s like, I hope they heard us and understood us for the half plate. ’cause that is huge. And then he brought it out. We’re like this is the half plate. Yeah, he tells us. I couldn’t even believe it but of course you know we ended up getting the ham and cheese plate. The ham, if you’re not too familiar, Spain is very famous for their biko ham. It’s very common. You’ll see it in all the markets. We knew it’s one of the things that we wanted to try and up until this point we hadn’t actually tried it quite yet. So we’re like alright, you know we’re still kind of full from earlier in the day at San Miguel market. Let’s use this as our opportunity.
0 (31m 4s):
You know, we’ll have a little charcuterie with the iberico ham. So we ended up doing that and it was quite enjoyable. I mean I’m not a ham connoisseur so to speak, or a cured meats connoisseur. So I will say it was very good and worth trying but I, maybe it was the location that we were at and no disrespect to Casa Gonzalez ’cause it was good, right? But I’m sure there’s different grades of a beer co ham. It wasn’t as melt in my mouth as I’ve been described before that some are, but still very good soft tender. So try yourself a bi hand from multiple locations. I feel like maybe that’s one thing I regret is that we didn’t try it in multiple locations.
1 (31m 43s):
Well we did. We had like little bites and stuff
0 (31m 45s):
We did but we didn’t get it from like the official place where we see them like carve it, you know? Yeah.
1 (31m 50s):
2 (31m 50s):
And then tell me after you had this little bite of ham and cheese that you went out Hawk Ison style dancing salsa,
0 (31m 58s):
We did all that. Kim. I mean my life is Madrid is not to be missed. Right. You know, so we just figured, you know, let’s find the equivalent of haw kasan out here. Let’s do this. No, unfortunately we, we did not do that. It was a struggle just from the earlier parts of our vacation, including Barcelona rallying that night that when we landed, you know, like we were just tired. So it was a struggle to even get up to go get that ham and cheese plate. So after that we ended up going back but we had an early morning train because from Madrid we were taking a day trip to, I say Toledo, right? That’s how we would say it, you know, in English.
0 (32m 38s):
But it’s really to
1 (32m 39s):
Toto Kim, you made a good point too when you were aff like did we go out every time we dined out in Spain it takes quite a while. So you know, if we are going out at nine, you’re going to spend two to three hours out going to get the food and no one’s in a rush to release serve you. It’s not like the US where you’re, they’re timing tables and like forcing people out. It’s like very leisure. You kind of have to ask for your check kind of thing. So every dining experience out is like a two to three hour excursion.
0 (33m 9s):
Yeah. And your food doesn’t come out at the same time. Especially if you’re doing like top us, like we had one come out like at a time. It’s not all kind of like coordinated. If you wanna wait for your next dish, your other dish is gonna get cold. And ironically enough, you know, here in the States that would bother me. But there’re just something in the atmosphere maybe knowing that’s like part of the culture, but it was just really laid back and enjoyable. So I guess it’s something good to know going into it if you’re gonna be going to Spain, it’s just to kind of accept that that’s the reality of the situation.
2 (33m 38s):
Now I know you two aren’t big nightlife people, but if any of the squatty listening are is is Madrid a good place for nightlife or is Barcelona both? Is one better than the other? I
0 (33m 50s):
Actually saw online saying that both of them are actually really great places. Barcelona gets more like international tourists. And again, not that Madrid is not touristy. ’cause again, it’s one of the two biggest cities within the country. So maybe people would say Barcelona because you have that good mix of you know, that international crowd and everything like that. So it lends to that type of style. But if you google nightlife Madrid, people will say the Madrid nightlife is a lot better. So I guess it really depends on what you want, but there’s no shortage of nightlife in Spain. Whether you’re taking it like leisurely out couple drinks, going out getting food, or if you’re talking party aspect, you’re gonna find it in both cities.
2 (34m 28s):
Good to know. For when I visit
1 (34m 31s):
Exactly getting all the tips from us. So that Monday we had a full day in Toledo, we took the train to Toledo. It’s about a 30 minute train ride. So our train was at nine 15, we got there about 9 45. Toledo is an ancient fortress city set on a hill above the valley and it’s also in central Spain. It was actually once the capital of Spain and it’s known for, its like medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments. And it’s a beautiful walled old city. A great place for a day trip. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. So again we saw a ton of UNESCO world heritage sites on this trip and we decided to take the train in and walk up the city didn’t realize how much of an easy day it was gonna be walking up the walls of the fortress city.
0 (35m 21s):
Yeah ’cause if you’re coming in by the train, you’re not too far from the fortress city area. Right? Because I mean if you’re on the flat ground area, of course Toledo has spread out. But what you wanna see is not that area of Toledo. You wanna go to the walled city areas, the corridors you have to catch a stone bridge that goes over the river to the city at that bridge is actually called the Puente de Alcantara. And again, forgive the pronunciation on the the Spanish there for you, but you’ll be crossing that bridge, it’s a medieval bridge. And then from there you’re climbing up these stairs up into the city fortress.
0 (36m 1s):
You mentioned Britney, Jewish Christian as well. A lot of Arab Middle Eastern influence in Spain in general. So this city is a UNESCO World heritage site because of that type of influence too. And I think they said what up until the 16 or 17 hundreds, it was the capital of Spain until they officially moved it not too far over to Madrid at that point in time ’cause it was really small and confined then. But of course with old technology that they had back in the day, it was very well fortified. So that made sense. But with new technologies in terms of weapons and advancements, you know, not that those things aren’t still practical, but it wasn’t needed and they needed more space. So that’s when they moved it to Madrid.
1 (36m 42s):
So as we’re climbing all of these stairs, we’re getting hungry and we want to have a bite to eat before we have a free walking tour schedule. So we find a little restaurant that was right off the main area where the steers were. We got two toasts, one of them had like salmon and goat cheese. Another one was topped with tomatoes and a baro ham. And then we got a chocolate crepe. Each dish came with its own drink and our total for the entire three dishes was 9.2 euro. I’m like that is so cheap. Like that is the cost of one of those things in the US. Really good.
0 (37m 18s):
Yeah. And so that’s one of the things too, like even though Toledo was very popular in terms of like tourists for day trips and even beyond the outside of Madrid, the prices were still very, very inexpensive on that. And Brittany mentioned how, you know we were gonna be doing a walking tour so of course we wanted to get breakfast ’cause we didn’t have it in Madrid but we booked our walking tour through Guru Walk. I don’t know if any of you squats have ever heard of it. If you haven’t, you should actually look into it wherever you’re gonna be going, they’ll show you free walking tours, there’s multiple in different cities you could choose them on whichever ones that you want to do on that end of things. And we really, really enjoyed it. And it’s one of those things, you know, you sometimes need the history to appreciate it.
0 (38m 1s):
’cause if we went alone and just kind of walked around, yeah it’s cool. But if you don’t get that kind of story behind it, the mix of all three different cultures, the story of like why this alleyway looks a certain way, which you know, they were telling us about that too. Like why it’s designed this way, you won’t appreciate it as much. So
2 (38m 20s):
On this trip to Madrid as well as on our previous episode when you talked about Barcelona, you’ve done quite a few experiences with tours, self-guided or guided. Do you regret or do you wish or would you have wanted to take this trip with Gate one?
1 (38m 37s):
You know, that’s a really good question. I could see the pros and cons and while we were in Toto, which is actually really funny that you mentioned it right at this time Kim, we saw two people with the Gate one lanyard. So they must have been on a day trip to Toto. And I pointed them out to Jamal, I said, did you see their lanyards? And he turned around, he was like, oh my gosh. Gate one. You know with Gate one some of the time that you have like at Leisure is kind of rushed. So for that aspect, I don’t know that I would’ve wanted to do this with Gate one because I liked being able to pick out like the tapas restaurants and kind of just like do a tapas crawl and leisurely things in the city.
1 (39m 17s):
But Gate one does have some independent tours to Spain and I think for the price point, probably getting the flights and the hotel included and like the independent tour, probably a really good value with Gate one. It was a place that we felt like we could get around and obviously we did by ourselves and that’s why we didn’t. But I do see the pros and cons from possibly doing the guided tour with Gate one.
2 (39m 39s):
I do feel like lately it is nice to enjoy trips where you’re leisurely just strolling into places, Exploring, eating, drinking, you don’t really have a rigid itinerary and you’re able to kind of just soak up the place. I’m kind of gravitating towards trips like that this and I think you too are as well. I know when you went to Virgin Islands you were pretty chill. Now you’re being chill here, you didn’t do any hiking. I’m starting to get concerned.
0 (40m 5s):
Well there wasn’t really any hiking to do kind of in this area, let alone the transportation out to the remoteness to to do those hikes. But I am gravitating towards that and if we hearken back all the way to last week’s episode where I said like I was really so excited about, you know, Spain, I was telling this to Brittany like the, and yes we did absolutely do a lot but again I said that you could go without the gaudy houses potentially depending on, but realistically like yeah we went to certain places but all those places was taking your time strolling, looking at shops, passing food places, deciding does this look like a place where I kind of like want to eat and just kind of like immersing yourself in it. And we definitely experienced a lot of that here in Spain and definitely in Toto just as well.
0 (40m 50s):
Just kind of like leisurely taking it. So
1 (40m 52s):
Our tour guide was really sweet. Her name was Carmen, there was about six of us. She showed us the hot spots of the city. She took us through the narrow alleyways. There was actually an option to do a hop on, hop off a bus tour of to Leto. We opted not to do that and we’re actually really glad we didn’t because there are so many small alleyways that the bus wouldn’t even be able to get into those areas. You would only be seeing like the outskirts. So I feel like having a walking tour guide was really legit. I’m glad we did it in the morning ’cause she showed us around like the town and then we were able to explore on our own a little bit better knowing the history of it. But Toto was the capital before Madrid.
1 (41m 32s):
Once Madrid became the capital, everyone that was elite, everyone that had money left Toto to go to Madrid and Toledo became very poor and there was a lot of beggars on the street for food and for money and things like that. And so the alleyways, the people that lived in the alleyways in these homes, they kind of blocked off and made their own gates to keep the beggars out. And because there wasn’t a lot of money in this area anymore, a lot of the housing and buildings kind of suffered in terms of the design and upkeep on the outside other
0 (42m 5s):
Than the stonework more particularly. Right. You know? Yeah.
1 (42m 7s):
And so they would paint like it would be a wall and instead of having like brick to updo it, they would paint on fake bricks and paint on like fake trim of the windows or like decoration on the outside of the doors. And it made it look really realistic. And so now it’s like an expression of artwork and sometimes it actually looks real and you have to kind of do a double take like, oh is that real or is that fake? So it was really interesting to
0 (42m 35s):
See. Yeah, so it’s still there. You could see some of the old designs on there of the painting, some of the newer ones and that’s now like a new cultural thing of toto. So I found that to be like very interesting and you really sometimes can’t tell, it’s like the optical illusion. You really have to stare. Like is my mind playing tricks on me? Is that real or is that fake? But to what Brittany was saying about the beggars and the gates, right? So these are little narrow alleyways sometimes there’s not two ways to get to one spot. There’s really that one way. So when homeowners would actually like block it out of their like alley, they blocked the whole passage to another side of the city. So at some point, and again this is not like recent, but you know in the 1670 hundreds the mayor said like okay we need to fix the the bedroom.
0 (43m 20s):
Poor problem. We have to take these gates away. So they made them that they’re open but the gates are still there. So at some point there’ll be a gate and you’re like, well am I actually like really trapped? Can I go through, is it locked but it’s not locked. Like you can go through it and then there’s a gate on the other end for you to go through and they’ll have the signs that say this is like free to pass. And that’s the note. Like this truly isn’t a real gate now, but this is a gate left to pay like homage to the history of like the city. So had all these like little unique quirky things. Plus with the mix of all three different like major religions and cultures that had been there at that point, it was such an awesome experience in city and you really gained a lot from the the walking toward the knowledge that we
1 (44m 2s):
Received. Yeah. And arch work started in front of the Alazar, which was a stone fortification in the highest part of Toledo. Now it’s used as their public library. If you go up, you get really amazing views of the city. They even have a cafeteria on the top level where you can grab a beer at the library and like enjoy the views. It’s definitely a different culture than what we’re used to here in the states. And we were able to go into like a, an area where they kept prisoners in the city. They sh shook us down into like the basement where they kept the cells. We got to pretend like we were unlocked up abroad. And we went by several churches and government buildings. Really beautiful cathedral. We didn’t go inside any of the cathedrals here.
1 (44m 43s):
You didn’t have to pay to go into them. And by this point we’re like, we’d been to a lot of cathedrals so we didn’t go into any of them. We just really like walked the cities, took in the sites, there was like a panoramic overlook that we got to enjoy. She walked us through the Jewish quarter, told us about the history there. We had a really just like nice time Exploring leisurely throughout the city and in taking it in all of the history and sites to see.
0 (45m 9s):
And so when we were done with the walking tour, we had a little bit more time to explore on our own. So we explored a few more of the different little alleyways and a main promenade area that we didn’t see on our tour just as well that we really enjoyed. But to the point earlier of what, you know, Brittany was mentioning on the tips and the train and booking through third party in rail Europe, this is kind of where we encountered that. We ended up not knowing how long we were gonna need to be after the guided tour to explore on our own. We were done. So I would say, you know, you see online people say Toto, oh like two, three days. I even saw like up to four if you’re gonna be going into the museums and stuff they have there and that’s your thing possibly, maybe if you’re gonna go check it out one day, one and done, we got done and we didn’t wanna wait for our five o’clock train.
0 (45m 56s):
So we tried to catch the earlier one, we went to the train station and they said, oh it’s booked through third party. You have to change through them. Tried to do it through them, you can, but I needed a response from them. It didn’t come on time. And so we were just kind of like stuck there then at that point. So to that tip of you know, maybe book it direct versus through a third party on your trains in Europe. But after that we had our train ride back to Madrid. Took the evening at leisure. One place where I really, really wanted to check out was another market in Madrid. By the time we got back it was the Mercado Antone Martin. And they are open Monday through Saturday, nine to nine.
0 (46m 37s):
And it’s one of those places too. Wine bars, food stalls. You could also buy like fresh produce and things like that there. And it’s listed as being a really, really popular one. But for whatever reason, I don’t know if it was time of day or what, it was like a bust. I would say maybe one third of all the vendors were actually open and everything else was shut down. So that was kind of the disappointment. And then of course we were hungry and one of the popular places to get tapas in Madrid is on this one street called Kava Baja. And you can top us hop if you want to down this like little stretch. It’s, even though it’s kind of touristy local prices. So we love that aspect of things very inexpensive.
0 (47m 19s):
And that’s where we ended up having dinner is in Kava, Baja area for our final night in Badass and Tapas.
1 (47m 25s):
Yeah, it was great. We got seated at this cute little tapas bar right when they sat us down immediately they brought out a plate of like little tapas with like cheese and a little sandwich and just like little things like before we had even ordered anything
0 (47m 38s):
Complimentary, tapas before we ordered our tapas.
1 (47m 42s):
Yeah. And then they were like, what do you want to drink? You know the wine super cheap, the wine’s like two 50 Euro a person for a glass. So we got some wine, we got some tapas and really enjoyed our time there. And then we made our way back to our hotel for the evening. We actually slept in the next day. Can you believe it? Kim we slept in. Who are you people? I know we had a 12:00 PM checkout. So we just spent the morning roaming RO park. Ro Park in Madrid is like Madrid Central Park. They had a beautiful rose garden. There was a crystal palace within the park. There was fountains, there’s actually a lake where you could rent a rowboat and you could have like a romantic row, row, row your boat, little date on the the lake.
1 (48m 27s):
Saw families out there, saw couples out there, lots of statues, green spaces and museums. It also borders like the Prado Museum, which is like Spain’s national art museum and just like a lot to see. So we just like kept that morning, like really chill, just roamed around, got dead with that and had just like a quick bite to eat a local cafe. And then we packed up all of our stuff and made our way back to Barcelona to head on back to the US the next day.
0 (48m 54s):
Yeah, in this area where we had RO park as well as the Prodo area. It was by the train station and by our hotel. So we just woke up in the morning, went the backend through the park, walked away through and around in the loop before we had our train. And this is listed as one of the more popular things to do too, is go to the park, go to the museums. We did some research ourselves to see if there were any museums that intrigued us again before our trip. None of them necessarily intrigued us so much, at least to our personal interests. They’re like, yes we wanna go. But you know, look at what museums they have in the Prodo area, they have several, maybe something or multiple of them will pique your interest, buy those tickets in advance.
0 (49m 37s):
So I, I would definitely say that area is not to be missed in Madrid, but I do want to just give a shout out to the area that we had the tapas the night before. Again, kava, Baja, there’s gonna be no shortage of tapas bars in the area. You could go to one, you could do a crawl, whatever. But the one that we went to that we really love was Taber l LTIs. It’s spelled S C H O T I S. But that place was fire, really good, really inexpensive food, and loved it, loved it, loved it. And really enjoyed Madrid and our day trip to Toledo as a whole.
1 (50m 12s):
Yeah, I really did love Spain and Madrid, everything as a whole. I think the one thing that surprised me about Spain in general is we didn’t see a lot of vegetables on the menu. A lot of the foods were fried and lots of tacos, but in terms of vegetables, like you know, know in the US there’s like tons of salad places and things like that. It’s just not the same over there. So that was surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting that, but food overall was definitely enjoyable.
2 (50m 39s):
And did you come back 10 pounds heavier?
1 (50m 41s):
Oh my gosh, I was so worried about that. Kim, I’ve been like trying to keep my weight steady and I was like, oh my gosh, I hope I don’t come back any heavier. Literally lost a pound probably from doing all of that, walking around the city. Yeah,
0 (50m 55s):
I think when we actually looked at Britney’s step counter that she has on her phone, I think what we average 22,000 a day, if not more,
1 (51m 4s):
We average almost 10 miles a day with our longest stay being a little over 12 miles. Woo.
0 (51m 10s):
And that’s even utilizing the Metro. Metro. And the metro systems are good. So you’re still gonna be doing a lot of walking, so just know that now if you want to get more crazy and in depth and actually looking to bus routes and you’re good at figuring out bus routes, which I’m not, you know, like we, we kinda let that go. So you could probably shorten those distances up a little bit. But yeah, if you’re just gonna be Rocky Metro, you’re still gonna be doing a lot of walking because that’s one of the things to do. I mean, you’re just gonna be strolling. I
2 (51m 38s):
Just have one question for you. Now that you’ve been to Spain, and in the beginning of our Barcelona episode last week, you said there are a ton of places to visit. You only went to a couple. What are some other cities that you would wanna visit on your next trip to Spain? I’ve heard really good things about San Sebastian. That’s one on my list. It’s a little bit lesser known.
0 (51m 58s):
Yeah, San Sebastian is up in the north kind of almost by like Bilbao area. And so I, I’ve heard that’s actually kind of like a really, really hidden gem because a lot of people when they do coastal areas are doing like Mediterranean coast, so to speak. And that’s kind of like North Atlantic Coast then at that point, or Spain geographically. But I want to go to Valencia number one. Seville. Yeah, it’s gonna be another place if you want to be crazy and go to Ibiza or Myorca, which are kind of like the little islands, but not necessarily too hard on those ones. You know, Granada, AGA, Kadi, these are all like classic southern areas.
0 (52m 40s):
One thing, I guess it’s kind of Spain, but it’s also not Spain, is Gibraltar, which is kind of like the area in Southern Spain. That’s pretty much the little tip that comes out in that narrow little passage from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. But technically the UK owns that little strip right there. So that’s actually real hot contention between Spain and the United Kingdom, is that the UK has that one little strip of land, but you’ll get there from Spain and you could take a little sailing from there and go cross the continent to Africa and go to Morocco. So I think that would be something cool and unique to do that I want to do.
1 (53m 18s):
I think the street’s only like nine with nine.
0 (53m 21s):
Nine or 12 miles. Nine to 12 miles. Are those
1 (53m 23s):
Yeah, like nine to 12 miles across. So it’s like, like literally Africa and Europe at that point are only nine to 12 miles across. And you can take like a boat across that. And I think that would be really cool. While we were in Morocco in January, they actually talked about that. And I think it was very ironic that our next trip right after was to Spain, which is like what would connect the two.
0 (53m 45s):
And to what you were saying, my final kind of thought, Kim, you mentioned this kind of in the first episode where you said you were kind of taken aback by Brittany’s answer on where we would potentially rake Spain. And she gave the answer that, you know, she’s a nature person, didn’t really do a lot of nature stuff necessarily in those two big cities. And of course, you know, Toledo. But what I also think too is that yes, there’s culture in those locations, but those southern regions that we mentioned that are kind of like along the Mediterranean there, that’s where you still kind of have that more Middle Eastern and Arab influence that came in and where you’re actually gonna see that more. So like in the architecture, that’s a little bit more unique compared to the big cities.
0 (54m 27s):
So I think for what we saw of Spain was still absolutely great. I think when we see more of Spain, it will clearly climb up on the list in terms of like, you know, possibly even top five, because I know those places are like really special, like when you Google them and see it and everything like that.
2 (54m 45s):
Well, it sounds like you guys had a great time. I’m glad that you were able to squeeze it in and you’ve incrementally increased your international trip quota per year, so you got to get this one in. You’re studying the precedent for years to come.
1 (54m 60s):
Absolutely. I, I was talking about it. What are we gonna do next year for our fourth international trip? Jamal was like, this was like an off year, Brittany. I’m like, no, it’s not. It’s kind of just like setting the bar.
0 (55m 10s):
It was an off year because our May trip had to be postponed to June, and that’s not really postponed. It’s because Squad trip to Banff, you know, we need that snow to melt in Canada before we could do any legitimate hiking. And so it was like from January to June, I was like, oh man, that’s a long stretch to go without something a little bit larger. Good plane prices that we found from San Diego on British Airways out there. So yeah, off year Brittany, you know.
2 (55m 34s):
Well, Squad Squatty, thank you so much for tuning into our Madrid Spain episode this week. Make sure to keep the adventures going with us by following us on Instagram YouTube TikTok at Travel Squad Podcast, and send us in your questions of the week.
0 (55m 49s):
If you found the information this episode to be useful, or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too. And as always, you know it. Guys, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday, the new episodes
1 (56m 4s):
Tune in for next week’s episode. We have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you. Bye squadies!. Bye bye.