May 2014 - All photos are at the end of the post.

Early on my last Friday morning, I headed for the train station in Alicante to go to Madrid. I hadn’t planned on visiting Madrid, but I had an 11:30am flight on Saturday and there wasn’t an early enough train to get me there with time to check in and go through security. So, I took advantage of the situation and decided to spend a day in Madrid!

I arrived at about 9:20am and then walked through part of the city to find my hostel. This hostel was different from my other in that I had gotten a single room, which was quite a luxury! Haha. This hostel was a lot more like a hotel than the one where I stayed in Paris in that I had a single bed, bathroom, dresser and small TV. I was able to check in right away which was great because I had a tour to get to!

I decided to try out Sandeman’s tours again since I’d liked it a lot while I was in Barcelona. I didn’t love my tour guide quite as much as the last one, but it was a great way to learn a lot about a city that I was unfamiliar with.

Our tour mostly covered the older section of Madrid called the Austrian part due to the influence of the Hapsburg Dynasty. Of course we hit some of the more popular sights like Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace, but we also saw a few things I would never have noticed.

After my tour I grabbed some lunch and then decided to walk around the city as well. I wanted to visit Parque del Retiro, which is like Madrid’s Central Park, so I wandered through the city until I came upon it and then spent some time relaxing in the park.

After that I did some more wandering (and a little getting lost…) until I finally headed back to this market that I had seen earlier. There were several stands selling all kinds of food, either to take home or to eat there. And of course drinks! I got a freshly made mojito and wandered the stalls, buying a couple items to eat as dinner (along with the giant cone of gelato I’d had an hour earlier… Nutella + Plantain = Heaven, btw).

By this point it was about 8pm so I decided to head back to my hostel. There was a festival that weekend that I was tempted to check out, but I had been forewarned to not wander Madrid alone after 9pm, so I decided to stay cautious. I also had to get up at 6am for my flight back to the USA!

So there you have it! My whole two weeks in Europe condensed into seven posts. I plan on one more post about my general thoughts on traveling abroad (for someone who never has), and I’ve also gotten requests for how I traveled on a low budget, so I’ll do that as well!