One of the benefits of my employment is that I get to visit various cities in Europe once in a while, and this past week it was the turn of Madrid, Spain. I have been to Madrid once before but for only a day and a half and it was very rushed, so this time around Jo and I decided that we would take a few days before the day of my work and enjoy the city and it’s surroundings.

So on Saturday the 4th of July we flew from Gatwick Airport on sleasyjet to Barajas, Madrid. There was the usual pushing and shoving to get the best seat on the plane and the flight was pleasant enough. It took a little under 2 hours to fly to Madrid. Stepping off the plane into the 32 degree heat was a shock to the system, although we were dressed in shorts and t-shirt unlike some idiots in jeans and jerseys.

We took the Metro from Barajas airport to our hotel near Arguelles station. The metro system in Madrid is awesome to say the least. The coaches are all air conditioned and the stations are large and open with very clear signs and markings that are easy to read and understand. London Underground or TFL should visit Madrid and learn from them. The metro was also dirt cheap and cost us €1 from the airport to our hotel. We ended up buying a 5 day travel card for €17, which allowed us on all busses and trains throughout Madrid. One thing we noticed was there was little or no advertising in the stations or on the trains. A nice change from London underground.

Our hotel ‘Husa Moncloa’ was located in the cosmopolitan area on the west side of the city, within walking distance from the cultural attractions such as the Royal Palace, Opera House, and Plaza Mayor. There are two Metro stations on either side of the hotel (Arguelles and Monclao). There were also plenty of bars and restaurants within a couple of meters of the door. The area is known for it’s shopping, and every high street branded shop was within walking distance of the hotel. Our room was on the seventh floor and was nice and large. The bed was ridiculously big (our cats would have loved all the space). The hotel had everything one would need including an indoor swimming pool, gym and sauna.

blankOn Sunday we discovered by chance that there was a theme park at Batan, two stops from our hotel and being blankrollercoaster nutters decided it would be better to spend the day there than walk around the city in the heat. The theme park is very similar to Alton Towers, although has more water rides and more roller coasters. It was the ideal place to test out our Panasonic Lumix FT1 digital camera, since its a rugged, dustproof, waterproof and a shockproof camera. As you can see by the photos and videos it worked like a charm. We also took along our Gorillapod stand and used it at every opportunity. Every photo that has the two of us together, is thanks to the Gorillapod.

I’ll say one thing about the Panasonic Lumix FT1, it takes awesome video in either AVCHD format or Motion JPG and the fact that the camera was shockproof and waterproof just added to the fun factor because we could take the camera along on every ride.

Here is a video of us on the Tarantula Rollercoaster with a bit of screaming and swearing added for extra entertainment.

Here is a great review on the Panasonic  Lumix FT1 – It compares about 6 other rugged, all weather cameras. It is a very detailed, comprehensive review and you’ll see why I like the Panasonic.