1 December 2011


This was the final city in our Spain adventure, and a week is, of course, nowhere near enough time to see Madrid. It's a very impressive city, and compared to our previous stops it felt immense. We really only scratched the surface. Fortunately the Metro is a convenient way to get around. The neighbourhood we stayed in was near Plaza del Conde de Toreno, close to Calle de San Bernardino and Calle de Amaniel. Although the area perhaps isn't as picturesque as some others, it was great value for Madrid, very convenient to the Metro, local shops and parks, and worked well for us. We found the people of Madrid to be really friendly. Just going for a walk on Paseo del Prado or Calle Gran Via is a great way to spend some time.

What we saw and did
Parque Oeste: A great place for a walk, with some fun playgrounds for kids. Templo de Debod is interesting. You don't expect to find an Egyptian temple from 200 BC in Spanish park.

Parque del Buen Retiro: Another beautiful Spanish park. Really cool playgrounds, lots of people and lots to see. The Palacio de Cristal had an art installation by Soledad Sevilla that we really enjoyed.

Museo Reino Sofia: Although we'd heard that if you only visit one art gallery in Madrid the Prado is the one so see, I really, really wanted to see Guernica so we opted for Reino Sofia. Lots of great stuff here, and just before we enjoyed café con leche and churros con chocolate close by at El Brillante.

Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales: This was okay, but some parts were temporarily closed when we were there, so it wasn't an amazing visit. Lots of stuffed animals to look at though.

Madrid de los Austrias: Apparently the old centre of Madrid. We had a great walk around this area – there's lots to see. Palacio Real is pretty impressive. Mercado de San Miguel is fun, but a bit expensive. Plaza San Miguel is a great place to enjoy an afternoon café con leche.

Taller Puntera: I'm not sure how we found our way to this neat little leather workshop (Plaza Conde de Barajas, 4), but they make and sell very beautiful, hand-crafted leather goods.

Según Emma: While out wandering, we enjoyed a great lunch at this nice little restaurant, located at Plazuela del Conde de Miranda, 4.

Bodega de los Reyes: This little shop was just around the corner from our apartment and had a nice assortment of wine and olive oil. Calle de los Reyes, 6.


We loved Spain, and hope to return some day. There so many places we didn't get to, as well as some we'd absolutely visit again. The people are friendly, the food and wine are great, and the cities and parks are beautiful!

Another city full of spectacular architecture!

Near Retiro

Palacia Real

Plaza de España

Templo de Debod in Parque Oeste

Churros at El Brillante!

Hasta Luego España!

1 November 2011


We got to our apartment in the evening in Plaza del Museo, just across from the Museum of Fine Arts. Sevilla looked beautiful by night, and we we really looked forward to seeing it during the day. Plaza del Museo turned out to be a pretty good location as far as getting to most of what we wanted to see in the city, but it was fairly noisy Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes quite late. I thought Sevilla was magically beautiful, with streets lined with orange trees and incredible architecture everywhere you look – a wonderful city to walk around. 

What we saw and did
Granada Cathedral and Giralda tower: definitely worth checking out. Columbus's mortal remains may or may not be there, depending on what you read. Update: according to this, it is Columbus! The tower is a fun climb and a great view of the city.

Barrio Santa Cruz: A great area to wander through, and you will probably get lost. I thought it was a bit like a smaller, tidier version of Granada's Albaicín. There are lots of pretty tacky tourist shops around here, but the charm manages to survive. The dining seemed a bit expensive in this area, at least in some of the nice plazas.

Real Alcázar: Interesting and impressive.

Hospital de los Vernerables: Fairly interesting if you have some extra time. It's free on Sunday.

Plaza de España and Parque María Luisa: Really impressive architecture and amazing ceramic work, and a beautiful park to relax in. Also, if you walk along San Fernando on your way there, you can also see the University building that used to be a tobacco factory.

El Museo de Flamenco: This was where we ended up taking our daughter to see some Flamenco, mostly because it met our needs perfectly – early start, short show, relaxed venue. It was quite enjoyable. We've read that the performers in the popular clubs (tablaos) can be very good, but the shows tend to be expensive. We were happy with the performance that we saw. Calle de Manuel Rojas Marcos, 3.

Museo Bellas Artes: A nice collection of work mainly by Spanish painters, housed in a beautiful old convent. Also, Sunday mornings there is a really good art show in the plaza by local artists.

A great area for walking around and shopping are streets like Sierpes and Velazquez / Tetuán, as well as San Eloy. Lots of shops, and lots to look at. At night the buildings along Avenida de la Constitucíon near Plaza San Francisco are really pretty. If you happen to be looking for the tourist info centre in Plaza San Francisco, it's not that obvious. It's at the corner of Polavieja and Granada, across from the Ayuntamiento building. Just look for the tiny letter "i" in the window.

Triana: We got to this interesting area a few times. If you walk over Puente Triana, there is an is an excellent market immediately on your right after the bridge. We bought great olives and Manchego cheese here. Underneath the market is the museum of Castillo San Jorge, known as the seat of the Spanish Inquisition. It's free, and absolutely worth a look. If you exit the market and find your way to Calle San Jorge there are lots of ceramic shops that have a wide range of great stuff for sale.

We drove by the Macarena Wall near Calle Macarena on the way the the train station, and I wish I had checked it out earlier.

Things to not bother with:
Guadalquivir river cruise: Not worth it. Expensive, and everything you can see from the boat is better seen on land. 

Carriage ride: Our daughter loved it, but it's pretty expensive (they'll try to charge you €50 for 45 minutes), and unless you absolutely love horse and carriage rides, you can walk to everything you'd see.

Kid Stuff
Sevilla seems to have a fair number of small playgrounds around the city, and before the trip when I was doing inquiries into what to do with a 3-year-old, someone who lived in Sevilla made a Google map for me showing the locations of a whole bunch of playgrounds. Thanks for that! A larger playground can be found along the river, just north of bridge "Pasarela de la Cartuja". It's pretty fun, with a really big boat-shaped play structure.


A month in Sevilla, and our time in Spain was quickly coming to an end! As it was the end of November, it was getting a lot cooler, and we were missing the great weather we had the beginning of the adventure. Off to the train station for our last stop – Madrid

Beautiful architecture, everywhere you look!

Museo Bellas Artes, across the plaza from our apartment

Morning light, around the corner

Real Maestranza bullring

Calle Sierpes


Plaza de España

Iglesia del Salvador

 One evening, this happened to pass by our balcony

Real Alcázar

The Cathedral

Columbus's tomb. Or not.

The view from Giralda

Puente de Isabel II

Over the bridge to Triana

Hospital de los Venerables

The aqueduct

El Museo de Flamenco

Sevilla by night