Got into Madrid early yesterday morning. Let me say, Barajas, the airport, is massive. We walked at least a mile to get to the Metro. If you're going to go, I suggest taking as little luggage as possible because it's sort of a pain to get to Atocha (or anywhere) from the airport this way.
In any event, we got to the station, finally figured out that street names are on the side of buildings, and found our way to the Hotel Agumar, which I wasn't sure was going to be any good, but is perfectly fine for our budget (and is very close to Parque del Buen Retiro and the Prado), if a tad too warm.
Couldn't check in for a while, so my sister and I decided to go get some breakfast at the Chocolateria in San Gines. Walked around a little unable to find it, so be aware it's down a little alley next to the San Gines church if you go. Personally, I thought the hot chocolate was great but the churros were a little gross.
After that, we stopped at the Mercado de San Miguel, but we'd just eaten, so we didn't get anything and will hopefully go back before we leave. This was on the way to the Conde de Miranda to get some cookies from this monastery.
Be aware: they don't speak English. I'm not sure what happened, but after some confused discussion they ended up giving us our money back as well as a bag of what I think is lemon shortbread. Who knows?
We walked back up the Calle Mayor to the Cathedral de la Amuldena, which is not your typical European grand cathedral in that it's very new and very... colorful.
Whatever. It's a sight.
From there we went north to the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) and snapped some shots, but didn't go inside.
The line was wicked long and our budget is fairly tight.
We walked down to the Sabatini Gardens, then decided enough was enough and took the Metro back to our hotel where we showered and crashed (my sister in vice versa) until late in the afternoon.
A real unintended Spanish siesta!
The Prado is free from 6 to 8 on Friday nights, so we walked up to the Prado -- tip: if you're coming from the south, you have to walk all the way around to the Prado's north entrance to grab a ticket, then walk around to the east side of the building to enter.
We saw a lot of Catholic paintings, more de Goya and Velasquez than I think I've seen total in any other museum, and a single excellent Picasso.
After that we walked to Alonso Martinez (or Tirso Molina, can't remember) and took the subway up to Ruben Dario and the Calle de Juan Bravo in hopes of finding dinner at Ferran Adria's for-cheap-people Fast Good. It either wasn't there or we were as blind as bats, because we never found it, so, starving (all we'd eaten all day were some damn churros), we walked north to Cinco Jotas, which is apparently a ham place, and I don't eat ham. But they had chicken, so I was fine.
The service was pretty slow for us Americans and pretty fast for our fellow Spaniards... maybe because they had to cook my chicken? Anyway, the food was fine, and we had to walk quite a bit out of our way to get to the Metro, since Ruben Dario was closed.
Then I got a little robbed, but it's okay because it was only a bit of American cash that usually goes to my gas tank, which I am not currently using. Since the bitch (I think it was the old woman shoving me into the subway) didn't take anything important like my phone, credit cards, etc., I should be okay.
Now I'm waiting for my sister to get dressed, so we can go get some food.
Will try to post again in Valencia.