On our last European trip, my daughter and I spent time in Spain, Andorra, and France. Although I’ve written about much of the trip already, I kind of skipped over our first day – a day in Madrid, Spain. We had a busy day in the capital city of Spain, exploring different areas and experiencing contrasting activities.
We started our day by eating breakfast in the hotel cafe. Breakfast was not included in our room rate, but the price at the cafe was very reasonable and the food was good – we both had Spanish omelettes. We ate a delicious breakfast in the same cafe each day we were in Madrid, since it was so convenient.
As we ate, we reviewed our plans for the day – a clothing museum in the morning, followed by a quick yarn shop stop, the Royal Palace in the afternoon, and a food tour in the evening. After breakfast, we took the metro to our first stop, a clothing museum. We found the Metro de Madrid easy to use. With over 300 stations, it took us where we wanted to go. Even though we were only in the city for a couple days, we found it was worth it to familiarize ourselves with the metro system. Madrid is a large city and it would have been very expensive to use taxis or Uber to get around.
Museo del Traje – Clothing Museum
The Museo del Traje, or Clothing Museum was amazing -especially for someone who is interested in sewing and fiber arts. The entrance fee was only 3E, which seemed like a bargain. The building was new and clean, with several rooms full of displays to visit. From the metro we walked through several parks including the Parque del Oeste, before arriving at the museum.
Each display case was labeled in English, so we were able to read about what we were viewing. The clothing on display was from the Middle Ages through today. I especially loved the elaborate traditional costumes and could easily have spent an entire day viewing the exhibits.
The museum has an area of interactive displays and a place where children and adults could try on clothing. The museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
Faro de Moncloa Tower
After the clothing museum, we planned to visit a yarn shop in the area. On the way there, though, we walked past a tower we had seen earlier. We were unfamiliar with it, but found out it was the Faro de Moncloa tower. We discovered that we could ascend the tower for 3E, so we decided to try it. It was neat. We could see the whole city – a 360° view – so it gave us a good overview of Madrid.
Ascending the tower was well worth the price, but it might not be worth the distance. We were in the area, since we were going to the clothing museum, but this part of Madrid is about two miles from the center of town. It is a beautiful area with several parks and there were museums and activities that we were not able to visit, so I would suggest coming with more than just the tower on your itinerary.
We went to the yarn shop, El Punto Madrid. It was small but they had a nice selection of yarn. They had some Rowen (England), Drops (Norwegian) and a lot of Katia (Spain). I wrote about this shop and others in Madrid and Barcelona in this post. After shopping for yarn, we stopped at a small cafe for a yummy lunch.
After lunch we went to the Royal Palace – the largest royal palace in Europe at almost 1.5 million square feet. Although the king no longer resides there, it is still used for many formal events. We opted for a guided English tour – just 4E more than that standard admission price – and felt it was well worth the extra charge. We had an interesting tour of a beautiful palace. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed through most of the building.
The palace was built in the 1700s, after a fire destroyed the former palace on the same spot. The palace encompasses the Plaza de la Armeria on three sides. The fourth side of the plaza is somewhat enclosed by the Cathedral de la Almudena. Gardens surround two sides of the palace grounds, covering at least twice as much space as the palace itself.
The most impressive spaces inside are the royal apartments. The lavish interiors reminded me of similar rooms at the Versailles Palace, outside of Paris. The royal armory was also magnificent with its multiple pieces of shining armor for knights and horses. I wish I could have taken pictures to share, but you will have to visit the palace yourself.
After this full day, we took a small break before our evening adventure. For dinner, we had reserved spots on a Devour Madrid food tour of the city. We joined up with another American couple, five young men from Germany, and our guide, for a tapas tour.
We went to four places, sampling several different tapas dishes and wine pairings. We had seafood, ham, cheese, bread, and vegetables prepared in local traditional ways. At each stop, we learned about local Madrid specialties. The food was delicious and we had a lot of fun with the other tourists in the group. Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly – I’d highly recommend Devour food tours (in Madrid or other Spanish cities).
Another Day in Madrid
We spent a second full day in Madrid – this one visiting art museums. After Madrid, we continued on to Barcelona, Andorra and then spent nearly two weeks in France. We hope to go back to Spain and spend more time in Madrid, but also the many other cities and towns we had to pass on for this trip.
Have you been to Spain? What was your favorite spot?