MADRID: Traveling with Child, Rent an Apartment October 17 2010

Llegamos a Madrid! The toddler was as good as a one-year-old gets on the seven-hour but thankfully non-stop flight over, sleeping half the way and making friends with everyone around her the other half. Coqueta. Our inner clocks are totally out of whack but no matter because this is a night city so dinner at 9:30 or 10 p.m.? Sure, and have a glass of sangria to wash it down. Then a cafe con leche to stay up some more. I'll sleep when I get home -- or as my abuelo-in-law nos dijo, "Dormir cuando se mueran." Es cierto.

We (okay, it was the husband's idea) decided to go with an apartment rental for this trip and, I've gotta give him props, it was totally the best decision we could have made. We used HomeAway.com, which has vacation home, cabin, villa, apartment etc. rentals worldwide. There are other sites that do this as well. They are essentially a broker, or the glue, between property owners and you. It was as easy as booking a hotel through Expedia.

We went with a small, but very nice and modern-looking one-bedroom apartment that totally looks like it was plucked out of an Ikea showroom -- which is actually a good thing when you're talking about decorating small spaces. It's near the city center, two blocks from a metro stop and about a ten minute walk to the museums.

That's all good, but as parents, the big perk of an apartment versus hotel is that it has a kitchen with a washer/dryer (altho this Euro dryer doesn't seem to use heat), refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher. We can store milk AND wash bottles AND child's clothes. AND there's a corkscrew AND wine glasses in the cupboard. Hey, momma's gotta get some rest too, re-set that internal clock. Mmmm, vino de Rioja. Buenisimo!

It's really a fully-loaded apartment -- with flat-screen TV's, a DVD player, a playpen and baby bath, stereo, wi-fi, nice new dishes, pots and pans, fluffy towels and fluffy bed.

And get this -- it's waaaaaaay cheaper than staying at a nice or comparable-looking hotel. It's probably cheaper than staying at a crappy hotel. If you're traveling with a big family or with extended-family they have multiple-bedroom options. We saw some amazing properties here in Madrid, with beautiful terrazas and patio furniture, beamed ceilings, just gorgeous, for a great price. Or great compared to what you'd spend for a hotel.

So back to Madrid -- we've done lots already, which I'll write up soon. Right now I'm waiting for the toddler to pick-up Marid-speak. Vale? Vale.