31/07/2013 - 02/08/2013
We had an overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid. The sleepers were a lot more expensive than just having a seat, so we opted to just have a seat. Unfortunately, what we'd not known in advance was that the train was seemingly constructed in the 70s and hadn't been touched since. The seats were uncomfortable and ours weren't even securely fastened to the floor, so we'd rotate about when the train turned corners. Great fun. Plus the group of guys behind us talked incessantly for most of the journey. It seemed impossible that we'd get any sleep, but we did manage small amounts once the guys behind us shut up. Still, we were pretty exhausted once we got to Madrid. Unfortunately it was quite early for checking in to a hotel, so we didn't want to make our way straight there. We killed some time in the station first of all and got some breakfast. We then made our way to our hotel, arriving there about midday. We'd thought that might still be a bit too early to check in, but thankfully it wasn't. We stayed at Gran Ayre Hotel Colon, which we'd booked through Hotwire. It was a 4 star, so pretty swish for us. There'd not been many options in Madrid though - crazily it was cheaper to stay at a 4 star hotel (albeit one booked at a reduced price) than to stay at a hostel. It was a welcome bit of luxury after our night on the train. We spent the rest of that day relaxing, doing some planning and also popping out to get food.
The following day was our only full day in Madrid, so we tried to cram in as much as we could. It was very hot though, so that slowed us down a bit. We mostly walked around and took in various parks and monuments, though we also went in some book shops with English language books (as we were lacking in reading material). One of the book shops (a second hand one) was also a bar! Brilliant combination. I bought a book and had a beer. Awesome.
We've spent so much time in hot countries these past few weeks, I've eaten more ice creams and ice lollies than I have done in years! Not complaining about that mind. I'd forgotten how refreshing Calipos were. I also got to have a Mojito Solero, which wasn't quite as awesome as I'd been hoping, but was still pretty nice. Anyway, from Madrid we took the train to Barcelona - thankfully not overnight and thankfully a much nicer train.