When faced with a trade-off, my first thought it how can I have it all anyway? It turns out, there are absolutely cases where you can't. When I chose to marathon on vacation, this meant I could only spend 12 jetlagged and bleary-eyed hours in Madrid before heading to the starting line. Madrid! If I retained anything from my K-12 education about the world, I knew Madrid was the capital of Spain and that Pablo Picasso painted Guernica.
Unfortunately, my stumble around the city only crossed the most obvious of monuments- here's a run through of what I found before falling into an exhausted slumber while the light still shined through my hotel blinds.
MADRID BARAJAS AIRPORT
PARQUE DE AVENIDAS (metro stop and neighborhood)
NOVOTEL PUENTA DE LA PAZ
PLAZA DE TOROS DE LAS VENTAS (metro stop and bullfighting ring)
BANCO DE ESPANA (metro stop and central bank)
LA CIUDAD INVISIBLE (cafe)
ROYAL PALACE OF MADRID
MADRID CHAMARTIN TRAIN STATION (small, local trains)
MADRID ATOCHA TRAIN STATION (bigger, high speed trains)
I planned a full half day of sights for Madrid, which, the city certainly merits, however, exhaustion set it and I let myself aimlessly wander in the delight of a new place. The metro system in Madrid is very easy, similar to New York and Barcelona, and many of the top tourist attractions double up as metro stops. A lazy way to knock out some "must-sees" is to see all the places with their own subway stop! Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, the colossal bullfighting arena in Madrid and quintessential Spanish monument inspired this move. It was actually the one of closest metro stops to my hotel and an accidental destination for my short time in Madrid. For my half day in Barcelona, I found Sagrada Famillia this way. I knew precious little about Gaudi until I got there, but one of my favorite moments was ascending the subway escalator on my tired marathon legs to see the delightful and grandiose four towers of the cathedral slowly come into view!