Spain is one of my countries-to-visit after watch the Korean variety show – Grandpas over flowers. With my sister kept mentioning about wanting to visit Spain someday. I just thought why not let’s check out the air tickets prices on SIA website. And to my surprise, there is promo actually to fly from Singapore to Barcelona – approx. $1130. Of course, I immediately booked the air tickets for our November trip, knowing that Spain should be cooler during the period since it is autumn. Then, we started to decide which cities to visit, and book the accommodations and Renfe train tickets. And here comes the itinerary planning… I realized that planning our Spain trip was not as easy as planning Korea trip because of the lack of information from the Internet. So guide books will be next best option for doing research. One tip for budget Spain travelers is to do research for your lunch and dinner using Trip advisor.
And, after planning and waiting for a few months, we were finally at Changi Aiport Terminal 3, waiting to board the plane. The flight took about 14h with 1h layover at Milan.
We reached Barcelona Airport Terminal 1 around 8 in the morning. After clearing immigration and getting our luggage (which took quite a bit of time), we reached the arrival hall. We bought our sim card with 2GB data and quickly took the escalator down to the shuttle bus bus stop.We have to transfer from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 in order to board the Renfe train to Estacio de Sants station so that we catch the train to Madrid. Here is a tip for budget train traveler, if you have pre-booked your train tickets, you may be able to claim your complimentary train ride from the airport to the Estacio de Sants. For more information on how to do it, you might want to google ‘Renfe Combinado Cercanias’.
The train ride from Terminal 2 to Estacio de Sants station lasted from about 30 minutes. Once we alighted, here comes the confusion. Because this station is very big, with all the major trains stopping here and traveling to other cities, we need to ask for directions in order to get onto the correct platform. Most of the Spaniards speak Spanish only and not English, so we often found ourselves in situations that we have to use sign languages in order to communicate. In this case, we got lost for 10 minutes before finding the gate to the platform. At the gate area, we have to get our luggage scanned before entering the waiting area. We have to check the platform number on the screen just like checking for counter number and gate number before boarding the plane. The personnel only allow us to enter the platform 20 minutes before boarding time.
Finally, we board the train to Madrid which will take another 3h to reach. The station which arrived at is called Madrid Atocha Station. This is another big train station where trains will travel to other cities in Spain. From this station, we walked to the underground metro and board the metro train to Gran Via where our Airbnb was located.
Our Airbnb was located 5 minutes away from Gran Via station and surrounded by a lot shops. After checking in, I took a quick shower before started to venture out with my sister.
Our first stop was to Retiro Park. The sun started to set as we reached there around 6pm. The sky turns dark faster than we expected and it gets more difficult to take photos with the lack of lighting. We decided to revisit the place again the following morning.
Our next stop for that night was to Puerta de Sol and La Mallorquina Bakery. We bought some of the desserts from the Bakery as recommended by Trip advisor before proceed to Emma Cocina for dinner.
Our last stop for the night ends at Zara, where I bought my first leather bucket bag. So happy~~~
On the second day in Madrid, after visited Retiro Park in the morning, we went to Plaza Espana and Temple de Debod. These two places do not have entrance fee. If you visit Temple de Debod, you can also see Palacio Real from far.
After visited so many places in the morning, we decided to have lunch first at Market of San Miguel before visiting Palacio Real and Almudena Catedral, which were just next to each other. Market of San Miguel, as suggested, is a market. Here you will find a wide variety of food choices. After walking one round, we settled for one of the stalls and ordered our tapas and wine. The tapas was really good and reasonably priced. After some tapas and wine, we moved on to another stall that sells yogurt and ice cream. We ordered two shot glasses yogurt to try and it was really yummy.
From Market of San Miguel, we walked to Chocolate San Gines. This is the famous place for its thick hot chocolate and churros. I would recommend Spain travelers who drop by Madrid to try it. It was really tasty as a snack or dessert.
After enjoying a great meal, we visited Almudena Catedral, followed by Palacio Real. We spent a short while in Almudena Catedral, exploring and taking pictures of the stained glass. I find that most of the Catedrals in Spain have very simple design for the outer part of the architecture and except for some which I will mention it later. But the interior part of the structure is something which I feel worth taking a closer look.
We moved on to Palacio Real where we spent a great deal amount of time taking selfies and perfecting our selfies skills. Haha. For foreigners who do not come from EU like my sister and I, there is no need to queue as the queue is meant for travelers from EU who do not required to pay an entrance fee. For us, since we are paying for the entrance fee, we do not need to queue.
For Palacio Real, photography was not allowed in the exhibition. However, they do have a wide collection of items from the Spanish Royalty which I find it very interesting. Do get the audio guide if you are hungry for more information.
Since we had a late and heavy lunch, we decided to drop by this pizza place recommended by Trip advisor to takeaway two slices for dinner before returning back to our accommodation. This place is called Vesuvio and they have a wide range of flavors for you to choose from their menu. After ordering from the window, they will prepare the pizza fresh. As this is our first time ordering, we thought they will gave us one slice per flavor. Instead, to our surprise, for every flavor which we ordered, it came as a personal pan size. So much so for having a light dinner…
On the third day in Madrid, we traveled out to Toledo which I will blog later…
Our last day in Madrid was more of a relaxed day as we will be taking the Renfe train to Seville in the afternoon… We took up some suggestions from our Airbnb owner and decided to visit Malasana as he said that this is a popular shopping street. However, the shops were still close at that time. I guess we have to re-visit this street next time in the afternoon. Most of the shops do not open until 10-ish or 11. So, we just taking a stroll along the different streets and stopped by at a cafe for a cup of coffee to get ourselves warm. We continued to explore until we reach Gran Via, where all the well-known brands were located at: Zara, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, Pimkie, Lefties…
So, our last day in Madrid ends with shopping!
My next upcoming blog will be on Toledo.