Just thought I would pass along our trip report as I go. We are a family of four who are on an 11 day trip to Spain. We will be seeing Seville and Granada during Semana Santa then Barcelona.
We arrived in Madrid from Newark yesterday. We easily found the airport express bus outside of our terminal, but it was absolutely jammed with people and luggage. However it was cheap and a half hour trip to the Atocha station for our Ave train to Seville. However, if we are lucky enough to come again I would consider the cercanias train, as three shuttle buses for the airport terminals came while we waited and the train would be free with our tickets to Seville.
We checked our bags in the Atocha station, which was great. The bag check is on the lowest level at the opposite end of the station from the trains. I believe you need cash, but it was five euros for a grand locker. We fit four rolling bags and a couple backpacks in there so it really is large.
Since we were three hours early for our train we left the station and walked around Madrid. We had a nice lunch at one of the million restaurants nearby the recollected our luggage and got on the Renfe ave train. This was fantastic. We had preferente plus tickets for the 21/2 hour journey and had a beautiful quiet car with very comfortable leather seats. They brought us hot towels, newspapers, drinks, snacks and a lunch, with a sandwich etc as well as two chocolate candies. Wow. After two flights we would have been happy with just a drink but I could have ridden that train all day. Our teenagers fell asleep immediately after having been crunched on two flights and slept soundly through all the snacks.
Taxis in that train station are abundant and the line is at the front of the station. Our address is very near the processions so two drivers conferred on how close they could actually drop us off. We were dropped off near plaza Hercules just as a procession left so we were lucky enough to see part of it, getting as close as we could with our rolling bags. It was an incredible sight. Eventually we found the office for our apartments. Due to the huge crowds the owner was actually standing in the doorway looking for us. They are fantastic.
Both owners showed us to our apartment and gave us maps, a box of local cookies and many very good suggestions for restaurants. We made our taxi arrangements for our departure two days from now too, which put my mind at ease.
Our apartment is in Torrejon street and is very safe and clean. There is a washer which doubles as a dryer and a fairly large fridge by euro standards. After showering off 22 hours of travel we found a small grocery store, Dia, and loaded up on apples, yogurt, ham, cheese and coke zero and eggs. The grocer wanted to see my passport when I tried to use my credit card. I had left it in the apartment but my husband had his but not his credit card. So, a perfect storm of inefficency! We paid euros, they always work.
Headed out to 10 pm dinner on the square which was fantastic and hit the hay.
Today we woke up after a solid eight hours and had our eggs and yogurt and did a fantastic walking tour of the city with Conception. It costs fifteen euro and was worth far more. Being Thursday of Holy Week we were privileged to see all the women in town wearing their black dresses, high heels and lovely mantillas pinned in the back. The men are all in suits. We had lunch on a terrace by the river with sangria, clams, shrimp and salad. Yes it is exactly as fabulous as you are picturing it.
We stopped in a baroque church to see four of the floats for the processions. People have small stickers on to show how many churches they have seen. Then off to a siesta before the all nighter tonight watching processions.Unfortunately I cannot sleep, hence this report!
Don't know how I will make it through the night!