Madrid and Toledo, Spain

When I Went: March 21-28, 2012

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? I went in March, and to me that was the perfect time. It was spring time without it being too cold or hot. The sun was out every day we were there.

Why I Went There: I had never been to Europe. Typically my vacations are more Caribbean destinations, but I had an opportunity to select something different. Madrid is so historical and beautiful, and I always wanted to visit. I also took a train for a two-day trip to Toledo.

Who Went With Me? My best friend. She lives in L.A., and we met up there.

We Stayed Here: AC Santo Mauro in Madrid, Santa Isabel in Toledo, and Abalú in Madrid. We spent time in Madrid, took a train to Toledo, and then returned to Madrid to close it off.

You Won’t Want to Miss: There is so much to do! If you’re an art lover like me, Museo Nacional del Prado (Prado Museum), is a must. The work of El Greco, Picasso, Velasquez, and more are breathtaking in person. The Royal Palace tour is unbelievable. You’ll get to see how the real rich and famous live. If you’re in for a little high-end shopping, try the Salamanca Quarter. What girl leaves Madrid without a pair of Manolo Blahniks? After all, he is Spanish. El Rastro, on the other hand, is the ultimate flea market experience. You get to people-watch and experience something very local. There will be great finds for sure. Of course, eating is a must! Tapas here, tapas there, tapas everywhere. Also, don’t forget to just look around. The architecture itself is amazing.

Eat Here: There were so many. By far, Restaurante Almagro Café and Bar had the best carpaccio that I tasted anywhere. So fresh and tasty, I couldn’t get enough.

Play Here: La Negra Tomasa: great vibe, music, and drinks. You have a mix of locals and travelers.

If I Went Again: I would stay longer. I think we tried fitting everything possible in. Going to Toledo was a must because we were already so close, but I think I would have added two additional vacation days vs. trying to fit it in during that. I would have also done a bit more pampering. It was so focused on sight-seeing that we didn’t find time for the pool, massage, or sunning.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? Nonstop flight through American Airlines

Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: Visiting Toledo was such a religious experience. Known as the “City of Three Cultures” — where Christianity, Judaism, and Muslim cultures come together — it’s a must see. The High Gothic cathedral is indescribable. You just have to experience the beauty of the culture.

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