After several days in Barcelona, we embarked on our next adventure. We had headed to the local train station the day before and bought one-way tickets to Madrid. With tickets in hand and suitcase handles in the other, we hopped in a taxi, headed for the station. Having traveled on a Eurail pass as a college student, I was a bit skeptical at first, remembering some of the grimy trains that took me across Europe. But I was pleasantly surprised. The tourist class (akin to coach on an airplane) is perfectly fine, as we had been told by those in the know. Trains are new, clean and you feel like you’re gliding on silk. We couldn’t help but note the train speed hit 300 km/hour! We made it in about 3 hours. It was a great mode of transportation and we highly recommend it.
Beautiful Hotel Atlantico
We checked into our hotel, the Hotel Atlantico on Gran Via. I loved the architecture of the building. The unfortunate part was that the hotel was doing restoration work and was completed wrapped in scaffolding. (Photo at left in all its glory after the work was completed!). The front desk staff worked hard to find us a room that wasn’t completed obstructed, and we did end up with a beautiful side view of the backside of Madrid.
After getting settled in the room, we headed out for a late afternoon snack. We decided to just walk the streets and find something that piqued our interest. We dropped into a tapas restaurant on a little small alleyway, Taberna Kaixo, and had the best sandwich of the trip. Roast pork on a baguette. It was so simple, yet amazingly good. I have to say it beats the ubiquitous ham baguettes you see in almost every cafe window you pass by. We love the Albarino, too!
Madrid was a complete zoo this time of year. It makes new Year’s Eve on Time Square look tame! But we loved all the holiday decorations and energy in the city. The tree became our landmark from which we always knew we could find our way!
Tired and ready to head back to the hotel, but feeling in the mood for a glass of wine, we decided to go the bar at the Atlantico. It was so comfortable and felt like we were relaxing in someone’s living room. And, we actually discovered one of our favorite wines of the trip, Protos Gran Reserva, a red from the Ribera del Duero region.