The train brought us smoothly and effortlessly to Madrid. The weather for cast was showing a strong chance of rain and high temperatures (24 Celsius..I am on vacation and do not care to spend time on the conversion, let's just say it was very hot.
The biggest problem and we got over it quickly) was that there was really not proper signage to lead us to the taxi stands. We kind of wanded around looking for an exit and transportation. We exited at the first chance and saw two cabs (which we thought odd for such a big train station) we went out and asked to go to our hotel. The person who appeared to be in charge began speaking quickly and gesticulating. It was difficult to try to comprehend what he meant. We knew a couple of things. A. We were not getting one of the 2 cabs we saw and B. We had to go back inside the building and figure it out. Being the resourceful travelers we are we got walked in and looked for someone who appeared to work here. We found the perfect one, she was very sweet to walk us to the point where we could see where we needed to go. We easily reached the taxi line got in and got to our hotel in 5 minutes.
The hotel where we stayed in Barcelona was called Universidad and was run by "Hotel 10" chain. Thought in an old building it was completely renovated to look new and modern, which the big rooms and huge bathrooms Tom and I were really surprised and pleased. In Madrid we are staying at Villa de la Reina which is also run by "Hotel 10" company. This hotel was also completely renovated but they maintained the architectural integrity of the building which was originally built in the late 1800's. It really is quite beautiful. The room here is also good size but the bathrooms are slightly smaller. Black and white is the theme on our floor with beautiful mosaic tiles on the floor and walls of the bathroom; white wainscoting against white walls thick beveled crown molding at the top of the walls. We have a small balcony the looks out onto a busy street and on the 5th floor we have a beautiful view of the City.
Tom and I threw our luggage in the room upon arrival, went to lunch at 2PM then back to the hotel. I meandered around the area and found a sort of Madrid's rendition of "La Ramble" right around the corner from us. The people, my gosh soooo many people crowded onto the Calle we walked down. At every turn they were crowds but the pedestrian street was wide at certain intervals opened onto Plazas so the walk was wonderful. Tom and I eventually walked to the Opera house found a Tavern and sate there for hours making friends with our waiter Hector, who by the way was from Ecuador. Very nice guy.... at the end he told us secretly that he wouldn't charge us for the olives we ordered.... He was very very nice and barely spoke English and with my barely speaking Spanish it told at while to get some conversation going. All in all great first evening in Madrid.