Oh, how I love it when cities have mass transit attached to their airports! Yay Madrid Metro!
Despite red-eye-fried-brains, we managed to get directions, pay 4 Euros for tickets, navigate the 1 connection, and voila, we were at Plaza de España within walking distance of our hotel.
On the other hand, the time change to Europe is never pleasant and despite the easy transit, this time was no exception. Thankfully, we'd done a 3 day stop in Atlanta, and we'd had to get up early for the Peachtree, so we only had 6 hours to cover instead of 9.
Even so, it took everything we had to check in and stay out of bed in lieu of the small walk to a nearby plaza, where we managed a deliciously languid half-awake lunch of delicious gazpacho, salad, and 27 month aged jamon iberico while we watched the world walk by as the misters sprayed us. Yup, in case we weren't certain, the hams hanging to cure from every open space in the restaurant ceiling confirmed it -- We were in Spain. Mmmmm.... Jamon.
A 3 hour nap, and then we were out on the town for a nice 6 mile walking loop at a pace that really couldn't be called walking with all of the stops (ice cream; wine, water, and olives; shopping at El Corte Ingles, dinner in Plaza Mayor while watching the sunset, and, of course, circular strolls through every plaza and alley we encountered. We left the hotel at 5:40 PM and finally returned at 10 PM -- hurrah for the contagious relaxation vibe here. At 9 PM, there are hordes of people strolling the very walkable streets, stopping for tapas or a glass of wine or a beer, not to mention the ubiquitous couples laying on the grass, relaxing and cuddling as if tomorrow couldn't possible hold any stress at all for them.
It is official, we are on vacation.