Things to do in Madrid – Spain Travels Day 5

After our side trip to Barcelona, where we visited famous attractions such as Nou Camp (home of FC Barcelona) and La Sagrada Familia & Casa Mila aka La Pedrera (famous architectures of Antonio Gaudi), we took the AVE high speed train back to Madrid to celebrate New Year’s Eve!

AVE High Speed Train from Barcelona to Madrid

Departing from Barcelona to Madrid at 7am in the morning
Departing from Barcelona to Madrid at 7am in the morning
Inside High Speed Train from Barcelona to Madrid
Inside High Speed Train from Barcelona to Madrid

There was a strange character in front of us who kept speaking in medieval terms to his girlfriend. At first we thought it was an unfortunate girl with an overbearing boyfriend. Then we thought, he could be “in character”. Possibly an actor?

Where to stay in Madrid – TOC Hostel Madrid!

After arriving at Madrid, we checked into our TOC Hostel Madrid – A family room which pleasantly surprised us!

Huge Clean and Modern Bedroom for 4
Huge Clean and Modern Bedroom for 4
Rain Shower TOC Hostel Madrid
Rain Shower
Toilet TOC Hostel Madrid
Clean Toilet
Amenities TOC Hostel Madrid
Shower Amenities

The clean, sleek and modern feel of the hostel was totally unexpected. Shower and bathroom was clean and there was even a window that overlooks the streets below. In the evening, we were able to see fireworks off reflections of our neighbour’s windows. That’s how close it was to Puerto Del Sol, where count down for New Year’s was to be held (led up to disaster #1). Plus, as it was so modern, you don’t even have to carry a key. Access to rooms are via your finger prints! (led up to disaster #2). Remember these points as we describe the “disaster” in the evening later on in this post…

Cine Ideal Madrid - For English Movies
Cine Ideal Madrid – For English Movies

Since it was a day of “rest”, we decided to catch a movie. To ensure that you’ll be watching an English movie (and not an English movie dubbed in Spanish), head over to this website which tells you the list of English Language Cinemas in Madrid. After watching Harry Potter in Italian in Venice during our honeymoon, we’ve learnt better…

Before the movie, we had lunch at a local franchise – Cafe & Tapas. Food was expensive, portion was small. But quality was not too bad. Not worth a second visit though…

Shiok but expensive pasta at Cafe & Tapas Madrid
Shiok but expensive pasta at Cafe & Tapas Madrid

After lunch, we headed for movie – Passengers. Surprisingly, for a largely 2 characters movie (starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt), it was quite interesting. Even more surprising, Kate didn’t fall asleep! :O Speaks volume about the film. We shan’t divulge too much about the movie. Suffice to say, it’s worth a watch to see the imaginative view of the creators.

Watching Passengers @ Cine Ideal Madrid
Watching Passengers @ Cine Ideal Madrid

After movie, here’s when things started to take a turn for the worse…first, we decided to catch a Flamenco performance. Flamenco is essentially a dance performance that intertwines with local Spanish music. Initially, we wanted to book the tickets online. We didn’t – which turned out good because when we reached the theater at 7pm, there was no one! As most shops were starting to close in preparation for the count down, we hung out at Subway, had a quick bite and headed back to our hostel.

After reaching back to our hostel, Kate wanted to have some makan (food) for supper. She suggested Burger King, which was right round the corner. So Tom left and did just that. To his horror, Burger King and MacDonald’s closed at 8pm! :O “Fortunately”, there was an asian store that was still open. However, the queue was ridiculously long…

Super long queue at Wok to Walk
Super long queue at Wok to Walk

As the queue was so long, Tom spent an hour to get the noodles at Wok to Walk. He also bought 2 Mahou, which turned out to be a bad idea… Due to the location of the restaurant (and hostel) within the cordoned area of Puerta Del Sol (where the count down was to be held), police came into Wok to Walk to ask all customers to leave and exit the area! Tom had no choice but to exit and this caused him to walk further away from the hostel (recall disaster point #1 above)…

Cordoned area around Puerta Del Sol during New Year's Eve Countdown in Madrid
Cordoned area around Puerta Del Sol during New Year’s Eve Countdown in Madrid

In order to re-enter the area, if your hotel is indeed located within the cordoned area, one could simply show your key card to enter. However, since TOC Hostel uses fingerprints, Tom had no key card and was not allowed to enter (recall disaster point #2 above)! To make matters worst, there was no free wi-fi around, Kate was not contactable and this made her worry as well. Left with no choice, Tom went to join the super long queue to enter the plaza…

Super long queue to enter Puerta Del Sol during New Year's Eve Countdown in Madrid
Super long queue to enter Puerta Del Sol during New Year’s Eve Countdown in Madrid

The queue finally moved at 10pm. By the time Tom reached the entrance to the area, it was past 11pm! Since the cordoning includes checks to remove alcoholic items and weapons, Tom’s 2 cans of beers were removed as well 🙁

Crowd at Puerta Del Sol before Midnight on New Year's Eve in Madrid
Crowd at Puerta Del Sol before Midnight on New Year’s Eve in Madrid

Kate on the other hand, went up and down to the reception to check on the details of the cordoning and she kept peeking to see if Tom was back. Fortunately, Tom was back in time for the countdown, with the semi-warm supper. Still, we were able to see the tradition of popping grapes for last 12 seconds of the new year (a Spanish tradition) as well as the fire works that ensued.

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It was indeed a “series of unfortunate events” in Madrid. Well, it’s such experiences that makes travelling that much more memorable – ain’t it so? 🙂

Stay tuned as we check into the ultra luxurious Gran Melia Palacio De Los Duques Madrid in our next post!

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