Another glorious day with spectacular weather in Madrid. Mostly everyone (sadly not Julie) appear to be sleep and time adjusted. Sticking to one big tourism stop per day and allowing time for adequate siesta breaks helps.

Strolling the Palace courtyard Strolling the Palace courtyard

The day started with a visit to the Palacio Real de Madrid, the “we’re bigger and better” sibling to Versailles. We purchased timed entry tickets (appreciated once we saw the very long line for folks purchasing for same day entry) and were happy to learn that a guided tour was included. We wore the little ear pieces as our local guide took us through the rooms in the main palace area. I haven’t been to Versailles in over 30 years, but my take: go to Palacio Real for the interior, go to Versailles for the gardens. Masterpieces of oil paintings, tapestries, “robot clocks”, and chandeliers were omnipresent; many of us were most impressed by the 3-D decorations in the China room.

Metro stop and Starbucks along the Gran Via Metro stop and Starbucks along the Gran Via

I then led a mini walking tour along the Gran Via, starting with blah Franco-era skyscrapers (for Madrid) into the magnificent 1930s and 1920s buildings. The sidewalks are so wide, so clean, and the via was packed with locals and tourists. Never felt crowded like we often do in Manhattan.

Taco Rey Monkey Taco Rey Monkey

Mike found a taco restaurant on a side street that was a pleasant stopping point, offering a restaurant-branded local Mexican style beer in both toasted (dark lager) and clear (lager) varieties. The food has generally been excellent and affordable, though it pays to do some research ahead of time because we’ve been burned once dropping into a tourist-trap style spot for lunch. Getting off the main touristy roads and plazas seems to help.