Two Days in Madrid

22/08/2015

Stopover in Madrid

My next destination was Barcelona, and as the train from Lisbon goes through Madrid, I thought I would stop there for a couple of days to work from a few cafes and see a bit of the city.

The only trains from Lisbon to Madrid seemed to be overnight trains, so I booked this as I wanted to do this stretch of the journey without flying (otherwise I may as well have just flown straight to Barcelona). I know I don’t sleep well whilst travelling, so I armed myself with a white-noise soundtrack, a small bottle of wine and a pack of sleeping tablets (please be careful if you try this). Despite this I don’t think I even slept for a second (placebos?).

There were sleeping compartments on the train, but this didn’t seem to be an option when I was booking. I used this train booking site (also for the train to Barcelona) which is much more user friendly than a lot of other train/travel sites. I think it is only for booking with GBP though. For anyone wanting to do the same journey, I’d strongly recommend getting a sleeping compartment, so maybe use a different site to book this one.

My first experience of Madrid was helping a French person use the ticket machine, to the sound of huffing and watch tapping from behind me. I thought I was back in London (everyone also seemed to be in a massive rush, just like in London). I then wandered around for a bit in a tired zombie like-state, desperately trying to revive myself with coffee before finally collapsing into the bed for a while at my next AirBnB.

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This booking was in an apartment with a couple (one half was away though). My host was amazing and kindly asked me to have dinner with her and some friends on one of the evenings.

Whilst there, I got to experience working from a rooftop bar overlooking the city, thankfully my phone can be used as a portable internet point, because there was no wifi there! Sounds great, but the bar featured weird mist producing water-squirters designed to keep you cool (in the temperature sense), so I kept having to move out of the direction of the wind in order to protect my laptop from getting wet. Nice view though.

digital nomad madrid rooftop bardigital nomad madrid rooftop bar

In the evening I visited the Reina Sofia (modern art) gallery, which is free between 7 and 9. It contains some of Dali and Picaso’s pieces (including the famous Guernica) which were great to see. The Museo del Prado (classic art) is also free between 7 and 8, which I unfortunately missed – the next day – because I thought it was also open until 9. It contains the famous Las Meninas painting by Diego Velázquez.

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I was surprised at how busy the nearby park was, so late at night, with people hanging out, jogging, rollerblading, doing yoga etc around 10pm. There appears to be a stronger outdoor social vibe in the European countries I have been to when compared to the UK, probably because people can actually go outside in the summer as it isn’t raining!

I had picked the location where I was staying carefully (i.e. very close to the train station) because my next train to Barcelona was at 7:30am. This meant I could roll out of bed and onto what was a much more comfortable seat (that actually reclined), if only I could have had this from Lisbon to Madrid then I might have got some shut-eye!