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ManVanNoPlan Visits Madrid

This blog post describes our two day visit to Madrid, the Spanish Capital in November 2021.

If you haven’t read the Week 1 blog you can catch it up HERE, the Week 2 blog HERE, the Week 3 blog HERE,  Month 1 blog HERE and the Month 2 blog HERE.

Sunday 20th of November

After saying all our goodbyes to friends over the last couple of days it was time to leave Camping El Jardin in El Campello and begin the long journey homewards.

Dove at Camping el Jardin

Over the course of our 60 days here we have enjoyed the company of friends like Garry & Carol, Alex & Maggie, Alan & Ann, Gerry & Marian, Linda & Roy and Michael & Helena from Sweden who we have all met before here but the pleasure of being on a site for so long is the opportunity to meet new fellow travellers and a special mention goes to Ivon from Brazil, Anja & Ads from The Netherlands, Ingrid & Rudi from Germany and others who we talked to from Wales, Germany, The Netherlands and Austria.

The reason for the picture of the dove? I became besties with this dove and will miss its twice daily visits insisting on being fed and hope Roy & Linda keep it in the manner to which its become accustomed…

I’ve mentioned before that the pitch we are on (through choice) is difficult to get in and out of for a van as big as Bessie and we were grateful for the assistance of Linda & Roy who helped guide me out without hitting a tree or the wall around the swimming pool!

Roy & Linda

Once on the road I had to reverse back then head for the barrier and after The Navigator said her goodbyes to Veronica in reception we headed off out of El Campello.

First stop on leaving Camping El Jardin was the Repsol garage at the north end of El Campello to fill up with diesel and our two LPG tanks as we had timed our gas to perfection (or by accident) but they were as good as empty now. That done it was time to set the satnav for Madrid, over four hours away and halfway to our final destination of Santander. With it being a Sunday morning the roads were very quiet all the way to our lunchtime stop of Castillo de Garcimunoz.

Castillo de Garcimunoz

You may remember from the above picture that we stayed overnight here on our way south two months ago on the free Aire at the side of the castle. The main difference to our last time here was the temperature. Castillo de Garcimunoz is over 3,000 feet above sea level and while it was hot back in mid September, the temperature this day was a few degrees above freezing.

Suitably refreshed, we set off for the final ninety minute drive to Madrid. The dual carriageway started to get busy in the final fifteen miles or so and I was glad that I had chosen to drive into Madrid on a Sunday afternoon as once we were in the city the traffic was nose to tail.

Camping Osuna is quite easily found thanks to my backup navigator from Google Maps and we arrived around about 3pm to find the forecast rain had not materialised. What was noticeable however was the temperature as it was 65f when we left the Costa Blanca and it was in the low 50s now. We are here for three nights to give us two full days in Madrid and the campsite is the nearest to the city centre which is why the rate is the equivalent of £25 a night (without electricity).

The campsite is fairly basic and you can park anywhere in a grassy central area which I’m sure doubles as the Madrid ski slope when the snow arrives so bring chocks if you ever visit here.

Camping Osuna Madrid
Bessie at Camping Osuna Madrid

The other downside is the facilities which are clean and adequate but far away back at the reception area. It’s not cheap at €30 a night but what it does offer is peace of mind and security when you are away exploring in the city centre. There is a car park on the other side of the road from the campsite which is listed on Park4Night but it would be a big gamble to leave your pride and joy there unattended.

Monday 21st of November

The forecast was for rain yesterday but it was bright and sunny on the drive north, although chillier than we’ve been used to so the heating was pressed into service, the first time on the whole trip so far. The rain did arrive as forecast at 7am and belted down for a couple of hours but we decided to brave it as we were here now and had two days of sightseeing to get through.

We left Bessie at 9am just as the monsoon abated and headed for the nearest metro station (Canillejas) and purchased a ten trip card for €14 and headed into the city centre, all of fourteen stops away!

Our first port of call is the number one attraction in Madrid, the Plaza Mayor and it was a huge disappointment as the Christmas Market stalls and the Christmas Tree were being erected and spoiling the photo opportunity but I managed a few pics without the cranes and lorries being visible.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Below is how it normally looks… and how it looked a few days ago (not my picture)

Plaza Mayor Madrid
Plaza Mayor Christmas 2021

Just a few yards from the Plaza Mayor is the Mercado de San Miguel, dating from 1916 which has been converted into a place to enjoy tapas and drinks and many were doing that and it wasn’t even eleven o’clock yet! We didn’t partake of anything but this place must be on everyones list if coming to Madrid.

Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel


From there we set off for the Royal Palace and although the rain had gone off it was still wet underfoot and on a little downhill section of pavement The Navigator came to grief (again) and took a ‘heider’ as we Scots say and fell all her length in a way reminiscent of Bambi! A passing Tuk Tuk driver stopped and offered his help to get her back upright again but I’m getting used to righting her and managed on my own.

We arrived at the Royal Palace without further incident and I’m pleased to report that The Navigator remained upright for the rest of the day. My back started to play up later in the afternoon, either from lifting The Navigator or from the cold and damp conditions. I’m not sure which!

There have been various buildings on this site going back centuries but this Royal Palace dates from the mid 18th century and it’s believed to be the largest in Europe and is pretty impressive, as you would expect.

Royal Palace Madrid
Royal Palace Madrid

Facing the Royal Palace is the impressive building, the Catedral de Santa Maria.

Catedral de Santa Maria

We didn’t go in to either building as we wanted to maximise our time walking about and it was was a real bonus not to get soaked and as the forecast is for more heavy rain tomorrow we may be forced indoors somewhere then.

Near to the Royal Palace is a statue of Felipe IV on horseback (left below) and The Navigator informed me of an urban myth that I had never heard of before, namely, if the horse has one front leg off the ground the rider was wounded in battle and if a horse statue has two hooves up in the air then the rider died in battle! The statue in the Plaza Mayor is of King Philip III on a horse with one hoof in the air but he actually died of dysentery and Filipe IV had a stroke out hunting and died a few weeks later, so, until proved otherwise, a myth it will remain…

By now it was after one o’clock and it was time for lunch so headed back to the Plaza Mayor area and the network of tiny streets that surround it which are packed with bars and cafés. We had watched a few YouTube videos on Madrid before we came to get an idea of what to see in the limited time we were here and in one of the videos the guide recommended a place where he said they sold the best Bocadillos de Calamares in Madrid and as The Navigator eats most things that come out of the sea we headed there and enjoyed our lunch, as much for the theatre of the place as the food itself.

Not content with going into every Ale-Hop on the Costa Brava she just had to see if this one in Madrid had anything different. It’s like a disease…

Ale Hop Madrid

One final memory from our first day in Madrid was the huge queues we saw (next picture) for lottery tickets. In this picture the lottery shop is the one with the blue facia to the right of the Lush shop and the queue went round the corner, up the street and down the other side to where I took the picture. The strange thing is there were people like the lady in the centre and the man on the right walking about selling tickets but the crowd was waiting to go into the shop.

Lottery queue

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering about seeing different sights and shops until we found a 100 Montaditos and had a reviving coffee/tea and headed back towards the National Theatre and took the metro from there back towards the campsite. On exiting the station we could feel a few spots of rain and walked back to the campsite as quickly as my sore feet and The Navigator’s injured leg sustained in her fall would allow us, just before the deluge started again which would last all night. An app on my phone confirmed what my feet were telling me – we had walked just over 16 kilometres!

Tuesday 22nd of November

After another night of torrential rain we set off for our second day exploring Madrid. This time we got off the metro at the Grand Via station and walked the length of it taking in the impressive buildings and shops. The Grand Via is the equivalent of London’s Oxford Street and it houses the main department stores and believe it or not one of the most impressive (and busiest) was Primark.

Grand Via Madrid
Primark Madrid

We found our way back into the Plaza Mayor and today the stallholders were working on their fixtures and fittings and the cranes had finished erecting the large Christmas tree so it wasn’t the building site it was yesterday.

Plaza Mayor Madrid
Plaza Mayor Madrid
Plaza Mayor Madrid

Yesterday on exiting the Plaza I saw a little café selling Bocadillos and I had a chorizo one and The Navigator had a bacon Bocadillo and both were excellent value at €3.40 each.

The Royal Palace Madrid

We walked again in the direction of the Royal Palace but then onto Plaza de España which is an open space of walkways and gardens with the Monumento Cervantes taking pride of place with a bronze statue of the fictional Don Quijote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza drawing the crowds. A huge amount of money has been spent landscaping this area and it is not quite finished yet.

From there our aching feet managed to take us to the nearby Templo de Debod dating back to the 2nd century BC which was moved here from Egypt in 1969 to be saved from the rising waters of the newly constructed Aswan Dam. It was a gift from Egypt to the city of Madrid and was transported to this site and rebuilt stone by stone and opened to the public in 1972. The temple and arches stand in a park with magnificent views over part of Madrid and the nearby Royal Palace.

Templo de Debod Madrid
Templo de Debod Madrid

By now it was getting cold and we decided to walk back along the Gran Via past the theatres which had musicals like Tina, The Lion King and The Full Monty on offer. We hadn’t the energy or inclination to have a look in any of the department stores on the way to the metro but we did have a drink in a McDonalds for the chance to sit down for half an hour as much as anything else.

It is 1,700 long steps from the metro station back to the campsite and we just made it back in time as the forecast rain eventually came on. We had not walked as far as yesterday but the 14km added up to 30km over two days and our feet were glad the city exploration was over.


It’s a capital city so you expect things to be more expensive than a regional city like Alicante, and it was. That said, it also offered great value too, like the tram deal and eating out was cheap and varied if you walked away from the main attractions.

We were incredibly lucky that the rain held off during both days and it might have been a miserable experience if it had rained. It was freezing cold but Madrid, at just over 2,000 feet is the highest capital city in Europe and is late November so that was to be expected.

Madrid was fantastic, compact to walk around, and was a great mix of history, culture, great architecture and wonderful parks, although more benches to sit down once in a while would have been a bonus. I think we saw enough in the two days to whet our appetite to come back in the future.




Ardrishaig to Portsmouth
Week 3 Route in Spain b


We continue north for a few days in Santander to rest up before our ferry crossing but there were a few incidents along the way before we were on British soil again. Stay tuned…


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