Again, remember I purchased a round-trip transfer from the cruise back to the airport. Other than the early wake up call, the transfer went very smoothly and our luggage was transferred equally as smoothly. We arrived in Madrid around 2pm to begin our 4 day visit of Madrid.
For Madrid, I purchased a two day pass on the Madrid Vision which is their hop on, hop off double decker bus to give us not only an orientation of the city but also a good idea of the major sites and monuments of the city. After collecting our bags at Madrid airport, we found ourselves hailing a cab no more than 10 minutes later. Remember that there is no immigration or customs to visit from one European Union country to another which made it nice. It was as if you were flying from one state of the US to another.
A cab ride from Madrid Barajas International Airport to Centro (city center) was around $40 Euros. You’ll find yourself spending more arranging yourself a private pickup. Unless you are by yourself, purchasing a shared ride van transfer isn’t economical. They run around $20 to $25 Euros per person and you’ll be sharing the van with a bunch of other people. In which case, you may not even get dropped off first so some time could be wasted there sitting in traffic while you wait to drop off other passengers. For the same approximate price, getting a cab would be the best bet since the airport is not far from city center.
Our hotel was recommended by a colleague who lived in the city called Principe Pio. The hotels location is awesome! About a 4 block walk to the Gran Via or Plaza de Espana and around a 5 block walk to Plaza de Mayor. The Hop on Hop Off bus tour picks up in the Plaza de Espana area which is a 5 minute walk. The hotel itself has the view of the Palace which was nice. Now the hotel isn’t very luxurious. I paid less than $100 per night on the room (try looking for that in Madrid… good luck!) but at least it was clean. It is a bit on the smallish side and the walls were a bit thin but for the price I paid that included breakfast?? I’m not complaining. The location itself should alleviate any unfavorable things. You can stay at other hotels near the area of this hotel but you will pay around $200 per night I swear to you. If you have that much dough, go for it. Unlike me, my thought is that I’m there in Madrid to see the sites, not to stay in my hotel room all day long.
After seeing the sites on Madrid Vision, my wife and I had a quick meal on Gran Via at McDonalds. Yes, McDonalds! Believe It or not, after eating really good meals on-board the Equinox and then good local food at some of the cities we visited, a comforting Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with cheese, that phenomenal golden fries and a diet coke seemed OH SO GOOOOOD! We miss home of course after being gone for so long and a trip to Mickey-D’s certainly recharged our batteries.