Madrid – Valencia – Toledo

Palacio Real de Madrid (front) Palacio Real de Madrid (front) I visited the 14th European capital last week – Monday to Friday. This time, I went to Madrid. I flew with Ryanair from Frankfurt International. You get what you pay for… Low fares and great service are naturally a contradiction. I had flown with Ryanair in 2005 already so I was prepared for cheap looking interior, no food, and a lack of cleanliness. After many flights were cancelled thanks to Ryanair’s bad planning of their pilots’ vacation, I was happy to be able to fly anyways.

It was still very warm in Madrid. This was very welcome as it was quite gloomy and cold here in Germany already. The hotel was right in the middle of the city, close to Tribunal. The entry and the staircase looked very uninviting but inside, the accommodation was comparably clean and modern. I usually only use the hotels as a base for my long walks in any case. I do not spend much time there so I do not need the highest standard. I just need to rest my feet from time to time. During this trip, I walked an average 20km a day again! That is what my apple watch says at least. Meals were not included in the hotel fee and not offered but again, in most cheap hotels the options are so little that in the end, I used to buy food myself anyways. The surrounding of the hotel was typically Mediterranean with lots of micro-shops and bars which are barred with graffiti smeared shutters during the day and then suddenly spring to life in the evening. They have got a completely different daily rhythm down there…

Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) If you asked me what the must-sees of Madrid are, I cannot really name any. There is the royal palace, Place Mayor, the market, a large park but nothing that sticks out really. I therefore decided to travel to Valencia on Wednesday. Note: before you enter a train in Spain, your bags are x-rayed. My plan in Valencia was to see the Oceanografic – Europes largest aquarium. However, that was not as easy as I thought. The metro stations in Valencia are very poorly signposted and are far from any of the major sights. I spent most of the time in Valencia walking around in areas that a tourist usually would never visit. I made it but it took a long while. Overall, I had only six hours in the town… The Oceanografic was as great as I had expected though. They display species from every marine biotope around the globe. The entry cost 30€ but I do not regret it. The pictures speak for themselves, I reckon. When I exited the aquarium, I had two hours left. The plan was to see the city centre but again, I got lost! What is so difficult about putting up proper signs for the metro stations? Let’s say I saw a lot of Valencia but not what I had planned to see. Ok, the science park next to the Oceanografic is quite nice. Yet, I had expected to see more…

On the following day, I travelled to Toledo. It is a historic town influenced by the Moors and is seated about 60km south of Madrid. Very picturesque but the traffic in the narrow streets is a major pain. It is hardly possible to make room for the cars. I experienced some really tight situations. Still, it was interesting to see an old Spanish town which is much different from the old German towns with all the half-timbered houses. In the evening, I had some Tapas at the market in Madrid. Paella is always nice… Oh and if you want to bribe me, get something with Mozzarella. No matter what, just with Mozzarella. On the day of departure, I still had lots of time in Madrid so I revisited some places that I had been to already. I cannot really say anything negative about the Spanish capital. It is a nice town but there is nothing special really… Certainly not the first town I would visit again when I am done with the remaining capitals.