A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

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My itinerary from London to Palma de Mallorca, Spain had an intentional bonus: A layover of around 12 hours in Madrid.

I landed at Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) around 9am, which gave me an entire day to explore. I quickly went through EU passport control and hopped on a Metro train toward Nuevos Ministerios. If you are on a layover in Madrid, I recommend getting the Madrid Tourist Travel Pass. Currently, this pass is 8.40 € for 1 day of unlimited Metro & bus rides in Madrid, including the airport, which normally costs 5 € each way. Even if you never ride the metro other than to and from the airport, you’ll save some money. Factoring in travel time, I still had most of the day to spend in central Madrid.

My first target was one of Madrid’s most renowned museums, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, near Atocha train station.

reina sofia museum madrid 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

museo reina sofia atrium 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

reina sofia madrid atrium 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

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win a free trip 1 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

I had been to Reina Sofia before, but wanted to go back and visit again. The museum, which has been expanded in recent years, houses a range of modern art exhibitions. The permanent collection includes a variety of works from famous Spanish artists including Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso, whose Guernica dominates one gallery in the center of the museum.

guernica reina sofia 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

Guernica is one of my favorite paintings. It tells the story of the Nazi bombing of Guernica, Spain in support of Franco during the Spanish Civil War. That same pain would be spread throughout Europe & the rest of the world as the bombing of cities became common during World War II. Guernica has been described as one of the most powerful anti-war works of art ever created. You can see it online or in a book, but to truly understand just how imposing the painting is, go see it in person at the Reina Sofia.

Another exhibition I saw at the Museo Reina Sofia was Really Useful Knowledge, an installation about the importance of people being informed about politics and the world around them.

really useful knowledge reina sofia 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

Having seen Guernica once again as well as all of the temporary exhibitions, I skipped re-seeing the permanent collection in favor of more Madrid exploration. I was thirsty, so I went to a convenience store and purchased this, thinking it was sparkling water.

gaseosa schuss 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

One sip, and I realized it was not. That little smiling guy on the bottle is not Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, but rather a happy lemon. It was an odd-tasting soda, similar to Sprite. I do enjoy trying local sodas, but this particular one was a miss.

Next, I headed towards Parque del Retiro, one of the world’s great urban parks. The park encompasses 350 acres just east of the city center, and feels even larger than that. While there are plenty of open spaces, Retiro is filled with gardens, monuments, activities like boating, and an array of small buildings that house everything from cafes to art exhibits.

I entered the park along Calle Claudio Moyano, a street lined with vendors selling books.

calle claudio moyano madrid books 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

I stopped at a bench and ate a jamón ibérico sandwich I had bought from a place called ENRIQUE TOMAS – Atocha. It was a simple sandwich of just meat, quality bread, and olive oil. It wad as delicious as it looks.

jamon sandwich retiro madrid 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

After eating, I continued wandering through the park. Despite it being late December, some of the plants in the gardens still had flowers.

retiro trees 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

la rosaleda retiro 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

I arrived at the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) in the center of the park. It turned out that there was an art exhibition inside. In fact, several of the buildings in the Retiro contain temporary installations from Museo Reina Sofia. It’s a nice way to keep the buildings occupied, though it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are aware of the exhibits. While the rest of the park was pretty busy for a Monday afternoon in December, a few of the buildings only had a couple of other visitors inside.

retiro crystal palace 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

crystal palace reina sofia 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

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Here’s the temporary art exhibition that was inside Palacio de Velázquez in Parque del Retiro.

palacio de velazquez 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

I’d had a long trip so far, and I still had more travel to go. In an effort to get on Spanish time as quickly as possible, I sat in the sun for a good hour or so at the Monument to King Alfonso XII. Between the warm-for-December sun and people watching, it was easy to pass the time.

monument king alfonso xii 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

After my time in the Retiro, I headed back west, toward Puerta del Sol and then Gran Vía. On my first trip to Madrid, I had stayed in this area of the city, and to be honest, I had been unimpressed. I’m glad I went back to Madrid because I ended up having a better time than any of the days I had been there previously.

I had dinner, and then headed to my final stop in central Madrid, a new brewery called Fábrica Maravillas.

fabrica maravillas brewery 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

fabrica maravillas madrid 500x500 - A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World

Fabrica Maravillas has only been around since 2012, but it’s a leader in the Madrid craft beer scene. I arrived just as they were opening. I didn’t have a lot of time before I needed to head back to the airport, but I did try several of their beers. My favorite was their Cabrona, which is a Belgian Quad (pictured above with tapas olives).

I wrapped up my layover in Madrid with a Metro journey back to Barajas Airport. I still had one more travel leg on the first part of my trip, flying from Madrid to Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain.

More posts from this trip:

Around the World: An Introduction
Global Entry application, interview, & review: Around The World
British Airways First Class & Business Class Terraces Lounge San Francisco SFO Review: Around The World
British Airways First Class 747-400 San Francisco SFO to London Heathrow LHR Review: Around The World
British Airways South Galleries Club Lounge London Heathrow LHR Review: Around The World
A day exploring Madrid, Spain: Around The World
Iberia Dali VIP Lounge Madrid Barajas MAD Review: Around The World
Soller, Mallorca, Spain: Around The World
Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain: Around The World
Top 10 things to do in Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Around The World
Cathay Pacific First Class & Business Class Lounge Frankfurt FRA Review: Around The World
Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER Frankfurt FRA to Hong Kong HKG Review: Around The World
Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge Hong Kong HKG Review: Around The World
Cathay Pacific Business Class 777-300ER Hong Kong HKG to Tokyo Narita NRT: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – A New Year Hatsumode visit to Meiji Jingu shrine: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Intro to Shinjuku, Harajuku, & Shibuya: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Day trip to Mt. Fuji & Kawaguchiko: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Shinjuku & Shibuya: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Day trip to Kamakura: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Shinjuku – Toilets, Arcades, & Robot Restaurant review: Around The World
Craft beer in Tokyo, Japan: Around The World
Tokyu Stay Nishi Shinjuku hotel review: Around The World
Kyoto, Japan – Imperial Palace, Philosopher’s Walk, Ginkakuji Temple: Around The World
Kyoto, Japan – Ryoanji Temple, Kinkaku Temple, & Fushimi Inari Shrine: Around The World
Kyoto, Japan – Day trip part 1, Miyajima: Around The World
Kyoto, Japan – Day trip part 2, Hiroshima: Around The World
Craft beer in Kyoto, Japan: Around The World
Sakura Terrace Kyoto hotel review: Around The World
Tokyo, Japan – Grand Sumo Tournament: Around The World
Japan Rail Pass, Shinkansen, & Narita Express train reviews: Around The World
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  1. Madrid-Barajas Airport
    Attraction in M Spain

    s/n Avenida de la Hispanidad
    M Spain
    913 21 10 00
    http://www.aeropuertomadrid-barajas.com/
  2. Nuevos Ministerios
    Attraction in Spain
  3. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
    Attraction in M Spain

    52 C/ Santa Isabel
    M Spain
  4. Atocha
    Neighborhood in M Spain

    M Spain
  5. Parque del Retiro
    Attraction in Madrid Spain

    Puerta de Alcalá
    Madrid Spain
  6. Calle Claudio Moyano
    M Spain

    Calle Claudio Moyano
    M Spain
  7. ENRIQUE TOMAS - Atocha
    Restaurant in M Spain

    10 Plaza Emperador Carlos V
    M Spain
    911 26 27 74
    http://www.enriquetomas.com/
  8. Palacio de Cristal
    Attraction in Madrid Spain

    Parque del Retiro
    Madrid Spain
  9. Palacio de Velázquez
    Attraction in Madrid Spain

    2 Paseo Venezuela
    Madrid Spain
    917 74 10 00
    http://www.museoreinasofia.es/index.html
  10. Gran Vía
    Neighborhood in M Spain

    M Spain
  11. Fábrica Maravillas
    Restaurant in M Spain

    29 Calle de Valverde
    M Spain
    915 21 87 53
    http://www.fabricamaravillas.com/

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