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Madrid .. April 18, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Holiday, Idle Thoughts, Madrid, My Girlfriend, Reviews, Travel.
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Of course your car will be safe parked in Luton all weekend .. <gulp> .. as we hauled our sleep deprived, adrenalin fuelled bones to Luton Terminal 1, I tried to sound reassuring .. it was quite good to leave Luton, it isn’t the most inspiring location in the UK ..

The taxi into Madrid centre is unassuming at first, but you get a great panoramic of the City about half way , with the bull ring menacing close and the Commercial district in full view ..

urban_hotel_central.jpgI still didn’t know where we were staying & when we reached the destination, I was somewhat speechless. The Hotel Urban is a gem .. a Five Star gem at that .. the fixed grin that started at the leafy tube station the day before just got a tad bigger .. with Madrid being more a place of atmosphere rather than manic sightseeing, having a plush hotel was just the best thing ever ..

Urban is full on .. part of the Derby Hotel Collection and notably a feature in the Design Hotels Guide that T had spotted when we stayed in the Three Sisters .. very clever girl ..

“Urban” is plush in the design sense of the word. It has oceans of glass and steel without all the twee fussiness of a traditional bell-boy-esque 5* establishment. If anyone would feel out of place in a 5* royalty, but wants some seriously lavish design, this is the place to come ..

The staff were all understated and friendly without being in your face, and their dress code is closer to Men In Black than Brideshead Revisted. There is ethnic art a plenty, which whilst not my bag, it does work really well with the contrasting uber modern construction.

What to do in Madrid? well aside from making full use of the hotel’s features and hospitality, naturally .. we did a walking tour of Old Madrid, taking in Tapas, Plaza mayor, the Palace, the Cathedral & the Opera .. ending up on the main shopping street of Casa Via .. it is a very clean city, and whilst my pre-conception of Spain is neutral take it or leave it, the country as a whole did go up in my estimation after only the first day.

Adjusting to the eat late and party principle, we Siesta’d and ate at a great little Restaurant called Root at something approaching midnight. It’s a marvl that old and young alike are out at this time, all looking bright and fresh .. if this were the UK, eating at midnight would be pissed blokes out for a Curry and nothing more. The place was rammed with locals, always a good sign, and the waiting time was acceptable. Food was fantastic and the atmosphere equal to it .. could have happily stayed there all evening, but we went drinking instead.

The following day we went further afield, slightly. A walking tour through the Bourbon District, including Parque del Retiro & its lazy laid back inhabitants. Then we headed out on the Metro .. I love getting underground on public transport, Faro de Moncloafor one thing it’s seemingly always cleaner and more efficient than London & also gets you a view of the real City. I then went on a solo tour of the Bernabeu Stadium whilst T hit the shops .. we then leisurely walked for miles toward the Faro de Moncloa tower .. a great vantage point over the City .. sadly it was a Woody World situation and the place was shut, but the walk was worth it ..

We did the right thing and slept, then ate late and then drunk more .. it is definitely the way to go, but it does screw your body clock up when you get back to blighty. It was a struggle to get up and out of the hotel before 3pm the following day, but it was for all the right reasons..

Culture injection on Sunday. Approx 3 stops at the marvelous Faborit Coffee Shop, bordered by a waltz through the Old town, up and round to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Depending on your taste in art this is well worth a visit .. a sweeping overview of 19th & 20th Century Western Art with some great Impressionist & Expressionist pieces. I tire at the older Baroque period, but thankfully my partner in crime feels the same .. the building and gardens are notable in their own right & also the £4 entry seemed cheap by US equivalents ..

Then .. we came home .. the car was safe, lost and alone in a multi storey middle England concrete prison, with lifts that had aroma’s of piss & crashed the soul back to earth with a jolt ..

It was a fantastic weekend, primarily the company, but that aside, I hadn’t a clue where I was going and Madrid was in my Top 3 places to visit! I would have been happy as larry in Skegness, but there’s always T’s birthday .. I’m sure she would like the Smith’s tribute deep down .. I’ll work on it ..

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