Our first travel advisory: MADRID
How to get there:
They one and only way to get to Madrid is by plane unless you live in Spain. It is in the heart of Spain and Ryanair flys directly to Madrid Brajas, the main airport. If you check well in advance you still can find great deals on expedia.
side notes: Brajas Airport is probably the WORST airport I have ever been to. My bags got lost, which is pretty normal as everybody told me in Madrid. To get around at T4 is also a big hassle and you really need some time.
How to get around:
The airport is connected to the “metro” station Aeropuerto T4, and it takes about 30 minutes to get into the city. I haven’t used a cab at all since the subway network is very convenient and you will never wait longer than five minutes for a train. The first thing you do after you leave the gate is look for the metro signs buy a pass, get a map of the subway network, and you are good to go. The metro works from 6:00am until 1:30am 365 days a year. Buy a tourist ticket for the time you are here. Tickets are 4 EUR for one day, 7.20 EUR for two, 9.60 EUR for three and 15 EUR for five days.
In case you really need a cab, this is not too expensive either.
side notes: sometimes it takes a long walk to get from one track to the other track within one station and you won’t find escalators everywhere.
Where to stay:
We have been to Madrid twice this Euroleague season and we have chosen the Room Mate hotels both times. First we stayed at the Room Mate “Mario” which was fine and right at the Opera and the Palacio Real. It is a nice area for tourists since all the main attractions are within walking distance and the subway station is right there.
The second time we stayed at the Room Mate “Oscar” which is a brand new hotel at the Plaza Vazquez de Mella in a trendy and hip neighborhood. The price per night was 130 EUR for a deluxe room with free internet and breakfast. As trendy as the shops and restaurants around the hotel is the hotel itself.
The metro station is about 5 minutes walking distance away.
side notes: If you are looking for a open-minded community, Plaza Vazquez de Mella is the place to be – just google it a little bit and you will know what I mean.
Where to eat:
We really tried to find a nice Spanish restaurant but both times we wanted to go they let us know the kitchen was closed or the restaurant was full. Overall, I am not a huge fan of Madrid people since they haven’t been very friendly. A must-order in a tapas bar: patatas ali e oli – I promise you will like it.
Since we can’t tell you where to eat, you probably figured that we can’t tell you where NOT to eat. Do not stop for lunch or dinner anywhere around the Plaza Major . You will be very dissappointed since you will get the typical tourist treatment: bad food and bad serivce. In case you want to go with US-style food, you will find TGI Fridays or the Hard Rock cafe.
Must-see things in Madrid:
If you have a few hours or extra days besides watching the basketball game, you should get out of your hotel and make sure you walk around. Of course you have to see the Palacio Real – make sure you go inside and sign up for a guided tour or you won’t understand half of the amazing things you get to see. I would also recommend to stop at the Plaza Major just to get the feeling of this nice square in the center of Madrid.
Madrid is not a city like Rome, where you see many tourist attractions at every corner but there are still some great things to see. We would recommend to look for one of these Madrid Vision Buses and do both circuits. You will pay 16 Euros for one day and get to see things like the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Plaza de Independeniza, Puerta del Sol and the famous Museo del Prado.
In case it rains, I would advise you to spend your time in that museum; in case of great sunshine, stop at the Parque de Retiro, which is one of the nicest parks within a big city I have ever seen.
This little guide should make it much easier for you to stay in Madrid and get the most of it – besides that, you still have two great basketball teams to see there.
In case you have been to Madrid and want to let us know about your experience, feel free to add your comments. Have a great time in Madrid!