So after a reasonably restful sleep overnight we got into exploring Madrid early – eager to use the remainder of the time available on our 24hr Madrid Vision card (we had until about 2pm) – first on the list was a coffee at one of the many local cafe's, then onto the Royal Palace for a tour.
The Royal Palace was spectacular. We we allowed access to about 50 of the 2,800 rooms in the palace. We started in the royal armory where armor that had been worn by or gifted to the kings of Spain was housed. This was a very interesting exhibition – you could even see how some of the kings had grown around the waist over time by the re-sizing of their armor ;).
The palace has many tapestries on display as well as many various gold and silver wares. The tour took us about 2.5hrs in total, but was well worth seeing how the other side live (or at least how they used to).
The rest of the day was spent simply wandering the streets of Madrid – just getting lost so we could find new and interesting areas we hadn't ventured to yet.
A recommendation to anyone going to Madrid who is traveling on a budget – get lunch at the Museo de Jamon (Museum of Ham) near the Plaza de Mayor. For 2 Euro's you get a basic Ham (like prosciutto) roll, an apple or orange, and a can of drink, be it coke, beer, etc! Its the best value meal we have found in Spain yet.
Later in the afternoon we decided to fill in some time by attempting a dry run on the metro (subway) to the bus station where we had to get the overnight bus to Barcelona. As with our current experience of the public transport system in Madrid, this was very simple and quick. we got to the main bus station within about 15 minutes – however decided not to exit the train station to pass into the bus station as we would have to buy a return ticket if we exited – so we decided to head back to the hotel and wait around until 10.30pm to take off for the bus station (our bus was at 12:30 am).
10.30 came, and we navigated the metro system with ease, although after paying for a ticket to enter, we simply walked through an open gate and didn't need to validate our ticket. Arriving at the bus station we queued for about 10min (with heavy packs on) just to be told we were at the wrong station! So much for a dry run.
Quickly trying to communicate with the Spanish only speaking clerk, we determined the metro station and line we need to be at – lucky we still had a valid ticket – some would call it fate!
Another 15min had us at the bus station we need to be at, and with an hour to spare.
We jumped on the night bus to Barcelona, and were surprised by the low number of fellow travelers. While we tried to sleep most of the way, we felt rather tired when we arrived at 8am.
We managed to get to our hostel using the Barcelona metro system – not quite as together as Madrid, but still reasonably good.
Unfortunately today has been raining on and off in Barcelona, so we tried to stick to inside activities, such as museums, churches, and pubs!
We will see what tomorrow brings, but we don't expect the weather to improve greatly. Preparation for the UK I guess – the good weather couldn't last for every.