May 24, 2015 | By Linda Smith
This time my travels took me to Madrid, Spain for a week. I spent six nights at The Westin Palace, a hotel commissioned by the king of Spain in 1912. The location of the hotel was perfect, close to Retiro Park, the Prado Museum and Puerta del Sol, so was the perfect starting point to walk around the city.
The Virtuoso amenity of daily buffet breakfast in the hotel’s beautiful stained-glass dome dining room was well worth getting out of bed for. When you book The Westin Palace, Madrid through Andavo Travel, a Virtuoso member agency, you can receive the following complimentary amenities dHowuring 2015:
I was in Madrid during a festival time where the city celebrates San Isidro. For three nights, there were fireworks in different parts of the city. Plus parades where men and women dress in traditional costumes and sing and dance through the streets, along with other concerts and events. The festival is around May 15th every year, and on the 18th of May this year every museum was open all day for free. Also in May, the city’s bull fighting ring is open at Las Ventas. I attended one of the bull fights – it is very theatrical with a lot of tradition and pageantry. Some of the best matadors come to Madrid this time of year.
I took several tours out of the city. I went to Toledo, Avila (known for it’s walled city), and Segovia (famous for it’s aqueduct). I also visited El Escorial, a historical residence of the king of Spain, and to the Valley of the Fallen, a monument to the people that lost their lives in the Spanish civil war. I enjoyed getting out of the city to see the countryside and would recommend any of the tours. I especially enjoyed my visit to the Museum Cerrablo. It was the residence of the Marquis and the entrance fee is only 3 Euros.
The taxis to and from the airport have a fixed rate of 30 Euros and the cab drivers do not expect tips. Tipping at restaurants is very minimal – not at all like the United States expectations.
This was my third time in Madrid and I enjoyed it even more this time. The people are friendly, the architecture and many fountains are beautiful, and the streets are easy to navigate. Everyone needs to try the “chocolate con churros” in an outdoor café while watching the people stroll by.