Madrid came up because of the convenient flights, both time wise and price wise, so off we jetted.
Having done Barcelona last year and having realised that a smattering of Spanish (dos cervesas, per favore) and a dash of French helps, we were pretty sure of a good time. Madrid lacks the seaside but has the museums, including the Prado, which I had long wanted to visit. We got there, got our paseo del arte and were off.
Lovely. Lovely. Lovely.
We visited all the cultural sights of the city, the Royal Palace, the museums and the Bernabeau Stadium. That last was my idea; what else do you do in a big city on a Saturday afternoon. Funnily enough, DH could think of no reasons not to go, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. We got to sit in the dug out, walk down the players' tunnel, see the trophy room and have a cracking case of vertigo from the top of the stands. Loved it.
Food wise, Madrid has great paella, the tapas bar we tried was fun, but the seafood is very in your face. I don't like to see tentacles and suckers, and there was Pulpo a plenty. The highlight for us was when we had a choice of an 8.30 or 10.30 booking and we chose the latter, a time we would consider at home as ridiculous but which is normal eating time in Spain. We went to a restaurant in England last week and were home by the time we would only have gone out in Spain!
I think Barcelona has the edge on Madrid; it has the seaside and the fantastic Gaudi buildings, whereas Madrid was a much more Museum based city, indeed a more business orientated place altogether. The old town wasn't as cute, the new town dirtier, but Madrid does have the advantage/disadvantage of being the country's capital.... and when you happen to be there on National Day there is a distinct chance you'll see something... this is the King Of Spain... look closer, can't you tell?
And a warning for Gaudi fans and Da Vinci Code readers.... The Gaudi Key is a preposterous romp through Barcelona where a young girl has been raised by her Grandfather to be really good at cyphers so that she can solve the clues hidden in the Masters work while crazed satanists try and stop her... It's not great literature but it was fun to read as long as you know your Gaudi. Fortunately, I had a book, otherwise I think you'd be lost. Some of th ebook is pure waffle, the rest is just plain daft. I liked it, but only because I am that sad individual who likes to sit there with a map and figure out if they're going the right way.