The inspiration for our upcoming trip to Madrid, Spain was running in the Rock and Roll Half-Marathon. Due to scheduling conflicts the race was moved up one day, and is now the morning we arrive. Since we already had everything booked and large portions were nonrefundable we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and turn our marathon trip into a seven day adventure in Spain.
Day 1: Arrival and Madrid Intro
Originally our first day was planned as a low key day to allow us to prep for the race the next day. However, with the new schedule we have a freedom to make the first day an intro to Madrid. Here is to hoping a day of adventure cancels out the jet lag!
Our arrival into Madrid is early in the morning, so we have a sometime before our room will be ready. Our hotel is centrally located and is accessible on the subway system. After dropping our bags we will go for a stroll through El Retiro Park. After that is a trip to Círculo de Bellas Artes Museum where we can access unique views of the city from their rooftop. Lunch and a quick self-guided tour will provide us a chance to get acquainted with the city.
After we check into the hotel to rest and reset we are off to experience a Wine and Tapas Tour. The tour guide will take us to three locations and introduce us to the world of tapas in Madrid. We are hoping this experience will leave us full and knowledgeable.
Day 2: ‘Race Day’
The second morning was supposed to be the race, but since the plans changed we will have a free morning. We have a shorter run mapped out, but depending on how the tapas and wine night goes it may be a self-guided walk. During the morning we hope to explore Casa De Campo Park if we get the chance.
In the same neighborhood as the train station for our travel to Barcelona is the Reina Sofia Museum. Our train does not depart until the early afternoon so we can take advantage of the free admission time on Sunday at the Reina Sofia Museum before heading to Barcelona.
Day 3: Barcelona
Our hotel in Barcelona is a short walk to the waterfront and beach, so I can imagine a quick walk to explore this area in the morning. In the late morning on our first day in Barcelona we have a two hour walking tour of the city. While it is easy enough to find things to do on the internet, I am hopeful to gain insights from our tour guide about unique food, experiences, and places to see in Barcelona.
After we grab some lunch we have tickets for the Picasso Museum. Once we are done at the Picasso Museum we will grab some wine and tapas on the way to our afternoon tickets to Casa Batlló. After Casa Batlló we have an open evening to enjoy and explore Barcelona.
Day 4: Second Day in Barcelona
This morning is light on the schedule so we can catch up on sleep, or enjoy time relaxing in the morning. We have tickets for an early afternoon visit to Sagrada Familia including access to the Nativity Facade. Looking through reviews this has been the most enjoyed Facade, and should be spectacular for pictures in the early afternoon. After lunch we will head to the church which will take about 2 hours to explore. By the time we get out it should be time to start thinking about some tapas and wine.
It just happens that a Biergarten Festival is happening the same time we are in Spain. We have tickets to the festival that includes liter beers and bratwurst. Having been to plenty of American Biergarten Festival it will be interesting to see how the Spanish celebrate other cultures. Hopefully we do not have too much fun at the beer festival as our train leaves early the next morning. Although we can always stretch out and nap on the train.
Day 5: Back in Madrid
After an early morning train to Madrid, we plan on dropping our bags in the storage facility in the train station. This has been a great find and allows us to travel freely without worrying about our luggage in between trains and hotel check-ins. Another train ride follows, this time to Toledo, where we have an early afternoon guided tour of the Toledo Cathedral.
There will be time after the tour for us to explore the city of Toledo on our own. The train will have us back in Madrid in time to check-in to the hotel and head out for dinner and a night out.
Day 6: Relaxing Day in Madrid
After a night out in Madrid, we have a later and more relaxed day on the schedule. The highlights for this morning include a trip to Debood Temple and Oeste Park. We will also spend this time fulfilling our tourist duties by shopping for things you can only find in Madrid.
The afternoon is currently wide open, and free to hit any parts of the city we want. Alternatively, we could spend the time getting lost in the streets of Madrid. It will be an early night because we plan to explore the hiking available near Madrid the next morning.
Day 7: Hiking in Fuenfría Valley
As early as we can get up and going we will head toward Cercedilla on the train. From the train station it is a moderate walk up to the Fuenfría Valley visitor center. From here there are many trails to explore the area. While there is some information on trails in this area, the visitor center will be able to provide up to date trail information.
We plan to spend most of the day in the Fuenfría Valley, and will head back to Madrid city center at our own pace. This afternoon and evening is open for some relaxing and sadly packing for our trip back home.