Timeline: May 17-21, 2019
Jared and I kicked off our 15 week trip around Europe this year in Madrid, Spain! Throughout our trip, I will be writing about the details of each place we visit, and sharing a few photos, while Jared will be tracking and writing about the expenses he incurred in each location. Since our first stop, Madrid, was kind of a stand-alone spot, we’ll both be writing individual posts on this location. But, from here on out, we plan to write about each place by country rather than by each individual city. You can check out Jared’s first expense report about Madrid here.
Off We Go!
We headed out on our trip to Europe on May 17th, 2019. We left directly from our hometown, Roanoke, Virginia. We planned to try to go to Portugal as our first stop, but we were able to find better reward flights using credit card points by flying into Madrid, Spain instead. This led to us making Spain our first stop, followed by Portugal, but then back to Spain later! We did it this way so that we could primarily use buses and trains while making our way around Portugal from north to south, then through Spain working west to east, and then continue up through France, etc. Overall this turned out to be a pretty good strategy, and Madrid was a great first stop for us!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at a nice Airbnb with a local family, a little bit outside the city center, which gave us a great local experience. We had a small private room in their apartment, and shared the bathroom with them. This can be a bit challenging, but overall it wasn’t too bad. It was a big apartment, and they were out quite a bit as were we, so we never seemed to get in each other’s way. We also had access to the kitchen which was great because we were able to go to the grocery store (Lidl) and make a couple of meals at home. This cuts down on having to eat out every meal, which saves both our wallets and our stomachs at times. We also really enjoyed getting cheap local wine from the Lidl!
What We Did
Since we were only in Madrid for about 3 days after our long travel from the US, we didn’t go outside the city. But since it was the capital and a fairly large city, there was plenty to explore. We actually enjoyed staying a little away from the center in the more residential area where our hosts lived. This allowed us to see more than just the tourist attractions. On our first day, we walked around the area of the Airbnb, including a very nice park and boardwalk area along the river, as well as a large Cultural Center, all within walking distance from the Airbnb.
Our Airbnb was a short walk to the metro line, which made getting to the center very convenient. We found the public transportation system to be pretty easy in Madrid, and fairly cheap too. We went into the center a few times to sight-see. On our first full day, we took a “Free Walking Tour,” which we really enjoy doing in different European cities. If you’re not familiar, the tours are offered for free, and you are just expected to tip whatever you feel the tour is worth to you. It’s a nice inexpensive way to get a feel for the city and learn some history from a local guide!
Overall we enjoyed just walking around Madrid and taking in all the sights. The weather was perfect while we were there, with no rain and only a few clouds, and temperatures in the 70s during the day and 50s in the evening. The architecture all over town was beautiful. We visited a couple of nice parks, the Royal Palace (although the inside was closed), a couple of Mercados (markets), and saw lots of beautiful churches and other buildings. We had lots of local wine and sangria (my favorite!) and tried some good food too! I branched out and ate some olives, which are starting to grow on me. My favorite sweet treat they had was chocolate churros, where you take a churro and dip it in a chocolate sauce. So yummy!
Onto the Next Stop!
Our time in Madrid was short but enjoyable! Next we took a short flight from Madrid, Spain to Porto, Portugal to start our adventures in Portugal for the next 2 weeks! Stay tuned for our updates on the amazing time we spent in Portugal!