Thursday, 14 February 2013

Long Weekend in Madrid: Skiing, Shopping & Sightseeing

skiing near Madrid
Great Intermediate Ski Pistes at La Pinilla, near Madrid

And the Award for Most Unlikely Ski Location Goes to... Madrid!

Skiing, Shopping and Sightseeing in Madrid... Oh Yes, and Delicious Breakfast Buffets!

For our last ski break before the season ends, we decided to book somewhere different from our road trips to the French Vosges or the Alps. This was partly to save money (Richard had seen a fantastic all-inclusive deal to Bulgaria), but partly to try something new... After the Bulgaria trip seemed to be adding more costs the more windows we went through on the PC, we did a good old skyscanner search to 'anywhere' and found some cheap flights to Madrid. I originally overlooked them - It didn't even cross my mind that you could ski anywhere near Madrid, but the deal was so good I considered driving to the Pyrenees from there. I went onto and after looking at a map of Spain, low and behold, the nearest ski resort was about an hour's drive from Madrid! Great success!

We stayed in four-star Hotel Hesperia in Getafe. It had an excellent breakfast buffet with fresh pastries and bread baked on site! The foyer was lovely - all pale marble and spacious with squashy seating and unique design, and rooms were comfortable with large marble bathrooms. This hotel is recommended if you have a car as Getafe is in an area/town around twenty minutes out of Madrid centre. It is a ten-fifteen minute walk to the local metro station but it is much easier with a car. 

Madrid weekend getaway - Hotel Hesperia - fresh pains aux chocolat
Mini Pains aux Chocolat at Breakfast! 

La Pinilla Ski Resort

We skied on the first day to make the most of the open slopes with fresh snow. It was so easy to find the resort - literally straight up the A1 from Madrid and off at junction 103, it was so well signposted (which is a great achievement in Spain!) It took around an hour and a half to get there.

The apres-ski was excellent for a small resort, with a good choice of busy little cafes and bars. No one spoke English, which for me, is one of the greatest appeals for an authentic and local experience! 

Madrid City 

For a break from skiing and to avoid aching bones, we had a day to appreciate the wonderful city of Madrid. We visited the excellent Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Museum/Gallery which houses a huge range of works; from 15th century art, to Renaissance art, to Dutch realism, to Pop Art and Kandinsky - there is an enormous collection here. After Richard lost his concentration, and finally the only intelligent contributions he was able to make were comparing me to a picture of an old man, we went shopping and found some excellent bargains. Richard bought a Jack Jones hoodie for just 14 Euros, and I bought some amazing teal shoes for just 28 Euros! 

We also visited a number of other sights on any must-see Madrid list (Plaza de Cibeles for example), and went to a few funky local cafe bars to drink and eat yummy tapas snacks. 

Madrid weekend getaway
One of the Kio Towers - Incredible Leaning Skyscrapers!

Madrid city weekend getaway
Plaza de Cibeles in the Distance

Madrid city getaway - Sol and the water fountains
Water Fountains at Sol
Madrid weekend getaway - tapas
Tapas! Delicious Quails' Egg and Chorizo Snack

Madrid city getaway - Sol
Puerta De La Sol - Plaza in the Evening














Skiing Again 

We headed off to the same resort and as it was a week day this time, it was so quiet! We virtually had the slopes to ourselves and there was no queue for the ski lifts. Up and down we went, flying about all over the wide slopes. Richard built his confidence on a great long blue run and soon enough he was ahead of me, waiting at the bottom of a particularly steep area while I stood awkwardly at the top, coaxing my calf muscles back into submission. "I lost it! I practically forgot how to ski" I said, when I finally carved down the not-so-steep after-all mountainside. It was time to get our boots off and head back to the hotel to get ready to go out and eat.

Shameful admission: We copped out and ordered room-service!


Madrid city getaway
Beautiful, Ancient Toledo


Making use of the hire car, we drove 35 miles South to beautiful former capital city Toledo in the morning, before our flight home at five in the afternoon. It was a stunning place with so much character and just wondering around the narrow cobbled streets taking photos was pleasure enough. We stopped for lunch in a local cafe and got by with minimal Spanish, then Richard had to find a cash point as they didn't take card payments!

Toledo was the Castillian capital for a few hundred years at two intervals throughout history, including around the year 600! 

Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2012
All Rights Reserved

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