MADRID and TOLEDO – a two-night mini-break

NOV 2021

Paul Whitelock


In October 2021 Paul Whitelock took his wife Rita off to Madrid for a two-night mini-break. Rita had never been to Madrid; Paul had been three times many years ago. 




In July 2021 Rita’s beloved Peugeot 206 cc cabriolet caught fire and exploded. It was a write-off. Rita was of course upset. She had bought the car new and had run it for 20 years without any major problems. She decided she wanted a similar model, so she started looking for a used 206 or a 207, the slightly larger model that replaced the 206.



She had been trawling the internet ever since, looking at,, Facebook Marketplace and similar sites in Germany.


The cars she found were either too expensive or already sold (why can’t vendors remove their ads when their car is no longer available?)




Then, in July, Rita spotted what looked like a good ‘un that had just been posted on A 207, 12 years old, low mileage, black with red leather seats. From the photos it was a real looker!


Uh, oh! It’s in Madrid. OK. I rang anyway and spoke to the owner, Mónica, from the Dominican Republic. The car was still available.


I said we’d be happy to travel to Madrid (Rita’s never been so we thought we could make it into a city mini-break) if Mónica would give us first refusal. She agreed and even promised to take the car off the market.


Off to Madrid


We immediately went online and booked single train tickets for a Saturday, a hotel in Madrid city centre for two nights, plus a night in Toledo on the way back, on the assumption we would be driving back in Rita’s “new” car. We were all set.


On the Saturday our train to Madrid was over an hour late on arrival so, under the terms of RENFE’s customer charter, we got 50% back! The car was getting cheaper by the minute!


In Madrid we checked in and went in search of food. The area around the Puerta del Sol was buzzing! What a great atmosphere!



We managed to find a table outside – it was still warm at 11.00 o’clock. We paid city prices, of course, 35€ for three small beers, two raciones and bread. But, what the hell! We were on holiday, sort of!


Buying the car


After a good night’s sleep I popped out for an early morning coffee while Rita got herself ready. We had breakfast and then took a stroll around the area, found a branch of Unicaja (they recently bought Liberbank so now the former Andalusian savings bank has branches throughout Spain) and withdrew the cash for the car, which we secreted in various places about our persons before catching the metro to our pre-arranged meeting place in a rough area called San Cristóbal on the outskirts of the city.

We viewed the car, tested it and bought it!

We drove back into the city and parked in an underground car park near our hotel. It was going to stay put until we left on Monday morning, despite the 32.50€ overnight parking charge!

De Madrid al Cielo (See Naples and die)

It was now mid-afternoon, so we took off to look at the Retiro park, the statue of Cibeles and to spend some time in the Prado Art Gallery.

After a wash and brush up, we headed out for dinner in the Plaza Mayor. We stumbled on the Mercado de San Miguel.

The market has been turned into a massive food hall. The former market stalls have been turned into tapas and drinks bars. There were also speciality stalls selling cheeses and other local products, as well as a bakery and a coffee shop.


The idea is you buy whatever tapas you fancy and your drinks and then find a table anywhere to consume them. The place was heaving and it was all rather splendid. Serendipity at work once again.

Not cheap, but as I said earlier, “What the hell!”

Toledo – Monday to Tuesday

After an early coffee we paid our exorbitant car parking charge and headed off to Toledo, Spain’s capital until 1561.

Rita took the wheel of her car for the first time. We travelled on ordinary roads to enjoy the scenery and stopped in the village of Illescas for breakfast. Back to sensible prices!

When we got to Toledo we were too early to check-in at our hotel so we drove up to the Parador which sits on a hill overlooking the city and offers the best views of this medieval walled town. Stunning is not a strong enough word to describe what you can see. Monuments of Arabic, Jewish and Christian origin are all over.


Our hotel was really well located just inside the city wall at Puerta Bisagra.


We strolled up to the main square, Plaza de Zocodóver, and had a salad, did some relaxed shopping and strolled back to the hotel for a rest.


Then, we strolled back up again for dinner at La Abadía, a former abbey where they’ve been permitted to restore Roman caves under the building into dining niches. The food here was somewhat different and the range of draught locally-brewed craft beers was amazing!



On Tuesday we again left early after a coffee and chose ordinary roads again as far as Córdoba. The car drove like a dream. We’ve decided to christen it Blackie, by the way – well, it’s black!


We stopped for lunch in the village of Monturque near the motorway between Córdoba and Antequera, and then a couple of hours later we were back home in Ronda, tired but happy.






I reckon the trip to Madrid, ie train ticket, hotels, food and drink, local transport, car parking and fuel, added around 700€ to the price of the car, but we had made a great little holiday out of it.


I reacquainted myself with two cities I hadn’t been to in a couple of decades and Rita saw them for the first time. She thought Madrid was beautiful – the nicest big city she’s ever been to and she’s travelled a fair bit.


Toledo too she thought was delightful, a bit like Carcassonne in France, but not, if you know what she means!


Clearly, this was not the most conventional way of buying a second-hand car, but it was very agreeable and I recommend it highly!


All photographs by Paul and Rita Whitelock.



© Paul Whitelock