We landed in Madrid after 32 hours of travel door to door. The first leg was quite lovely flying premium economy with Virgin Australia – when preparing to bunker down for a 14 hour stint, there really is nothing like being handed a glass of champagne before take-off to get you enthused about the confined quarters.
As we were facing three separate flights with three separate carriers (all partners with Virgin Australia, but all separate bookings), we were very impressed when at the check in desk in Sydney the staff took the initiative to link all of the flights so that we only had to collect luggage at the end in Madrid. This was most fortunate, as unbeknownst to us, the delay at Brussels airport would cut things far too fine for my liking (and, yes, we were going to Madrid via Brussels – it’s all about the points, darling!). The delays at Brussels meant that we were literally running to check in, and only managed this because our luggage was already on…or so we thought…
When we got to Madrid, John’s suitcase appeared on the conveyor belt, but mine did not. We were not alone in this dilemma – there were others whose suitcases were absent, so we joined the queue and filed a report and were told they had no idea where the suitcase was (unlike others who were told that theirs was still in Brussels).
We got our cab to the Hotel Ritz Madrid and just got on with our afternoon confident that things would sort themselves out.
[Full article on the Hotel Ritz Madrid]
BEGINNING TO EXPLORE THE CITY
So ‘Day 1 – Madrid’ was actually a half day, most of which was intruded on by flashes of doubt about getting the suitcase back. After check in at one of the most sumptuous, yet intimate, hotels in the world, we headed out to a great little organic vegetarian place within walking distance. La Biotika provided us with lots of locals, fantastic food (with a menu that changes daily), and the first of many urges to ‘walk it off’ after a full and satisfying meal. Have no idea what we ordered, only that some of the dishes contained avocado and couscous. But it was certainly a bargain with a soup + salad + main + dessert (the ‘sweets’ we ended up declining cause we were too full) for €11. The main had a mixture of 3 dishes on it, which were matched beautifully, full of flavour and very healthy!
We then followed our routine when arriving in a new city – we walked and walked and walked. We find it really is the best thing to smack the body clock into shape and helps orient ourselves. Our stops on this little 8 km wander included Plaza Santa Ana, Jardin Botanica, Plaza del Sol and Plaza Mayor. We nearly visited the Prado in the late afternoon, then saw the lines (it’s free after 5pm) and thought ‘nah.’