Just a quick final update…

Just a quick final update following on from yesterday… Whilst sat in Plaza de Oriente (just outside the palace) I found some wifi and Googled one of the other museum/galleries to see if it would be of any interest as I needed something to fill my time. One of them, the Thyssen-Bornemisza was another gallery, and personally I found it a little better than the Prado as it had impressionist paintings by the likes of Monet and Renoir who I actually really like. It had an exhibition on (until the 12th October) called ‘Vogue: like a painting’ which, if you love vogue like I do, you’ll find this interesting. One of my favourite photographers, Nick Knight was featured heavily as you’d expect in a fashion photography exhibition and this probably made my visit. His photos are gorgeous.

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

Towards the end of the gallery I sat down opposite a painting of Venice, I think it looked like I was in deep thought about it (which I partly was) but really I just needed to sit down. My feet are so tired.

I slowly made my way back towards my hotel and ate tapas at a nearby restaurant; the same place I had paella on my first night. This was mostly to use up some time before heading to the airport but honestly when is tapas ever a bad idea.

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And so my solo Spanish adventure had come to an end and I’d recommend it to anyone – both Spain and travelling alone. It might not be until you speak to someone else about what you saw/did that they realise your interests before you do – this happened to me on the plane home whilst sat next to two lovely people travelling with their Spanish club (hello to you if you’re reading, thank you for keeping me company!).

Now I’m back home and my brain is scheming for my next destination. Any thoughts, questions or queries are more than welcome and hopefully this can push you in the right direction if you’re on the fence about going at it alone.

Hasta lluego!

Madrid; day three

So the final day has arrived. Having seen most/all of the things I’d wanted to already I used this as more of a chilled day. Saying that I’ve still walked miles after getting momentarily lost in the banking district. Incidentally I saw “Relvo de la Guardia” which I’m guessing is like changing on the guard although a much smaller scale than Buckingham palace (I’m pretty sure it was outside a bank and since it was obviously all in Spanish I didn’t really get much clarification as to what or why or who). I don’t think the royal family were there but it was definitely someone important. The music was nice, kind of fairground mixed with dance break in a musical. I can’t fault Madrid on its music actually as it’s everywhere – the metro, the park, the street; I’ve heard ‘Hello Dolly’ played more than twice which, for anyone who knows me, knows how fine I am with that. As well as an abundance of music there’s an abundance of police which is quite reassuring. Even as I’m sat in the park there are four policemen on horses opposite me. Just a side note here – it must be about 29 degrees today, if I didn’t have a flight to get later I’d definitely be wearing shorts. That reminds, speaking of how warm it is – last night I popped out at about 10pm and firstly I couldn’t get over how warm it was, no sleeves were needed and secondly, how busy it was!! People everywhere, again with more than enough music and police.

If you haven’t visited Madrid I’d definitely recommend it for site seeing, beautiful architecture, lovely parks and gardens and of course autumn sunshine – sorry I can’t stop mentioning it, it’s like summer! I just burnt my arm on the zip of my tshirt. Hot. It’s also the perfect place for travelling alone, no one cares if you’re eating alone because so many people do it here. No one has asked if/why I’m alone so if you’re thinking about solo travel I say just go for it.

After my stroll round the banks I walked past the library which was impressive from the outside so I can only imagine the inside. I then made my way back to Retiro park from yesterday and ate paella – really good, octopus and everything, yum! I sat and listened to an Australian family discuss frozen beer while a saxophone was played in the distance. I tried to keep my cool as a wasp flew around me for the entire time I was sat there which made for possibly the least relaxing meal ever but delicious none the less.

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Now I’m sat in the sun writing this, it’s still so hot… I’ve got about 5 more hours at this point before heading to the airport so I’m planning on staying here a bit longer and then maybe doing to tour bus. I should have done that on my first day and not the last but hey! I found everything for myself instead. I even know some shortcuts now so maybe I should just stay here.
One thing I haven’t done is eat ice cream so maybe that’ll be sorted later…

Madrid; day two…

Today has probably been my favourite day. It started with a wander to find churros – I found the place everyone raves about but the queue was too long (I should have guessed!) so I went elsewhere for croissant and tea. After my little pit stop I made my way to the palace which I actually found by accident on my first evening – I thought it was just a really nice building, not realising it was the palace. Oops. The line for this was pretty huge so I took a few photos, basked in the sunshine and went on my way. Madrid is a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, you can walk practically anywhere although the metro does come in handy for tired feet. By this time I wanted churros again since my craving hadn’t been fixed. I Churreria Chocolateria Las Farolas and the waitress gave me five churros as standard. I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked all my arteries. A cup of chocolate is also provided with a spoon – I know. They also did the best fresh orange juice which was much appreciated after such a carb-fest. The fact that they didn’t take cards should have been displayed somewhere as I got to the counter without a cent in my purse. Luckily she let me dash to the ATM and was very sweet about the whole thing but I nearly died of shame. I’m guessing from her reaction I’m not the first person to do that.

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Oops, I’m in Madrid…


Sitting alone at a restaurant really isn’t as weird or scary as I (and indeed many people on Google) thought it was going to be. I ordered a drink, which came with tapas (bonus!) and got out my notepad. As j was seated outside there were many things to watch or look at and so it was no big deal. I ordered paella too which was maybe the best I’ve ever tried – and I’ve tried a fair amount – all the while writing about the things I’d got up to so far.
I’ll tell you what they are now…

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Tuesday.
Last night I took a leisurely stroll in the area near my hotel, which turns out is pretty much the centre of Madrid. I don’t want to boast about the weather but since I left England it the rain and arrived to 28 degree heat I feel I have to. I didn’t even need sleeves. The architecture of the buildings and the little streets that dart off left right and centre remind me of Rome, every building is stunning to look at; even the apartments and hotels which line the streets are so pretty with their balcony railings and window shutters. I went to El Corte Ingles, a big departments store that felt a bit like debenhams with the added bonus of an underground supermarket. I bought the essentials – water, juice and amazing icing sugar coated pastries that may have already been demolished. Oh and I can’t forget the pizza flavoured crisps. I don’t hate them.
After a quick social media catch up it was time for bed.

Wednesday.
I’m forgetting what day it is and what time it is frequently, which is actually quite nice as I don’t really need to know either, making a change from usual. I spent today wandering to (and around) Museo del Prado. I’ve been to a far few art galleries in my time and this one was pretty standard apart from costing €14 for entry which in hindsight was too much. I took my time exploring the three floors of paintings but once you’ve seen one naked angel you’ve seen them all. There were few other subjects covered however some of the captions made me laugh to myself and I had to note some down. For example “still life with a vase of flowers and a dog”, “portrait of a gentleman” and “landscape with buildings” which all did exactly as it said on the tin. The last one did make me smile to myself as I thought those very words before even reading the name of the painting, I needn’t have bothered. One of my favourite (I use that term lightly, it was my favourite compared with the rest I saw… I wouldn’t want it in my house) paintings was called “The embarkment of Saint Paula”, I’m not sure what the story behind it was but the use of sunlight was pretty impressive, it looked like the painting had the glow of a sunrise.
A collection of paintings by J Brueghal also had this effect whilst having incredible attention to detail and colour with some of this works having paintings within the painting. One was so ornate with flowers it looked like a little fairytale world. I’m not a major still life fan but it has to be said, it was a welcome break from naked angels.

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Next on my list was the botanical gardens, just outside the Museo del Prado and cost €3 which in summer would probably be money well spent, in September not quite so much although the gardens were very tranquil none the less.

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By this time I was pretty hungry and whilst walking back to my hotel I stopped to eat the paella previously mentioned. I took a quick rest after this, mostly to let my feet recover (note to self, take plasters even if you think you won’t need them) and grab another drink and then I was out the door again. I hopped on the metro to find San Miguel market which I did and it was crazy in there! Any type of food you could imagine – fish, nuts, chocolate, gin, you name it it was there. I then tried to find El Rastro, the biggest flea market in Madrid which didn’t go so well. Considering it’s the biggest it’s darn hard to find. I think I’ll try again tomorrow though, my tiredness was probably setting in. On the way home I took a visit to Gran Via which was amazing; theatres, old cinemas hotels and shops galore. That might need a second visit tomorrow too.

Now I’m just relaxing, finishing this post and I might start my book (the most cliche of them all, Eat Pray Love). There’s an infamous churros shop nearby though so I may have to try them out, it would be rude not to…

So with one day until…

I know, I know… as always I start this by saying how I meant to write sooner and more often. This is the truth, however it’s hard to set aside the time to focus solely on writing. Although today is different; it’s the start of my weeks holiday from work and as I’m lying in bed I thought it was the perfect time to take a minute and tell you of my travel plans for the coming week. 

On Tuesday i’m setting off for Madrid on my first solo travelling adventure. I thought I’d take a mini break (it’s literally only four days) by myself to see how I go before jetting off alone to somewhere slightly more exotic. It’s a bit like practise. 

So with one day until I set off I thought I’d just write a super short piece to say where I’m going so that if/when I next write about my time away it’ll make some sort of sense. 

Any tips, tricks and advice for travelling alone would be more than welcome!