Short version - We came, we saw, we loved Spain!
Longer version - pour a cup of coffee & enjoy reading!
My husband & I really enjoyed this first trip to Spain!
Toledo (2 nights): We landed in Madrid & immediately took a train to Toledo. Toledo was an amazing first location to stay! I walk off my jetlag in the sun while my husband acclimates best with a nap. This was the perfect location to walk the interesting hilly lanes and know I was in Spain! I had planned to take the local transportation when we arrived, but with jetlag, we were happy to just take a taxi. The initial views of Toledo were exciting as he drove us to the Jewish area to Hotel Sercotel Pintor El Greco. We recommend this hotel – very quiet, nice staff, numerous excellent breakfast choices. I paid for breakfast with the room, and we were glad with that decision.
When I pictured a trip to Spain, besides the usual, I really wanted to hear some excellent Spanish guitar. Our first night when we were searching for dinner, I heard guitar music! We followed it to the quiet plaza at the Cathedral where a man was fingerpicking a beautiful classical song – ah!
We headed to the Cathedral the next morning after touring the Synagogue near our hotel. We were almost there, and a “helpful” man told us the Cathedral was closed for another 20 minutes because of mass. But “being simpatico”, he could show us a special art exhibit at a nearby monastery. Well, we followed and enjoyed seeing the process, but afterwards understood the damascene “sales pitch” – didn’t buy anything. We recommend seeing the Cathedral – beautiful, and the tower wasn’t a difficult climb.
To take some nice photos, we took the tourist train to go to the opposite side of river. We think of those tourist trains as cheesy, but this was a nice experience. Be sure to sit on the right hand side of the train.
Madrid (3 nights): With our jetlag long gone, we were ready to enjoy Madrid. Pension Central Palace Madrid was my favorite hotel during this trip. The receptionist was so kind, breakfast at elegant Cafe de Oriente (free if you book through their site) was perfect to begin our days, and the hotel room was huge with a modern bathroom. But, the reason it was my favorite hotel was the view! Our balcony overlooked the Oriente Garden & the Royal Palace – so beautiful!
We liked the location of our hotel to be near the Plaza Mayor, Mercado de San Miguel, the Royal Place and to walk Calle de Arenal each evening to the Puerta de Sol. The tapa experience was intimidating at first with the crowds of people eating in the evenings, but we jumped in!
We saved valuable time by purchasing our Prado Museum (enter the Jeronimos entrance) and Royal Palace on-line ahead of time – walked right in both of them! Both of these were wise to not allow photography which made it so much more enjoyable for everyone to focus on the art & beautiful rooms without competing for prime space taking selfies! …personal rant ; ) My husband wanted to see a bullfight, so I planned one day in Madrid to be Sunday. He enjoyed the experience and crowd while I went to Reina Sofia to see the powerful Guernica!