Go Madrid! Now turn right!

Madrid although a very walkable city has a ton museums, monuments, churches, palaces, stadiums, and plazas to see.  The problem is how do you go about conquering them all in just a few days.  Most would jump on the “now found in every major city, double-decker red bus tour”.  Where you can get on and off as you please and a headset tells you about the sites you are passing by in over 10 different languages.

However I have never been a fan of traditional sightseeing.  The more random the adventure the better.  So as you can imagine when I stumble upon something called a “GoCar” tour my imagination and fascination get the better of me.

What is a GoCar?

A GoCar is a hideously “pay attention to me” yellow, two-person trike.  It has no gas pedals or steering wheel, but rather drives like a motorcycle minus the gears.  It runs a tour off a programmed GPS route.  As you drive by the GoCar tells you the history of the sights you are passing, while giving you directions on where to go.


The Tour

As we pull out of the GoCar garage amped up and ready to take on Madrid from a tiny convertible, a foot off the ground — a young British woman begins to scream at us.  Not an innocent bystander or a passenger from a fellow car, but rather our GoCar herself.  She is shouting directions and “interesting” facts as we venture out onto the road carefully following each step with precaution. In the beginning there is little to no time to actually see anything we pass as we are overcome with laughter at the ridiculous car we are driving, our helmets, and matching boots.

A Serious GoCar Driver at Work

Matching Riding Boots

Rocking the Helmets

We meander down major streets, roundabouts and tiny cobblestone throughfares followed by constant onlookers — laughing, shouting, and snapping photos.  We turn from tourists lost in a crowd to GoCar spokeswomen and the laughing-stock of Madrid.  As we drive down the “snobby” street of Madrid, or so the GoCar screams as we are stopped at a light with 20 plus people trying to cross. Warding off the stares, the light turns green and we drive straight — out of nowhere a Volkswagon turns without acknowledging our minor existence on the road and crash right into the left corner of our GoCar!!

As we sit in the GoCar completely shocked, both cars butting noses.  A woman in the VW begins screaming at us in Spanish out the window.  As we can’t back up because the car has no reverse, I scream to my co-pilot to get out and push!  Alarmed yet?  No worries, this story has a happy ending, we didn’t get pinged with some crazy GoCar fee or have to get the local policia involved, but it did give us an adventure we will never forget.  (The accident was really minor and not our fault.  No damage was done!)

It’s defiantly not a conventional way to see a city, nor is it accident proof, but we had a hell of a time and a great story to add to the books.  Just remember if your decide to take your own GoCar tour — it’s at your own risk!

GoCar Cities

  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Lisbon

Cost in Madrid

  • 1st Hour       35 Euros
  • 2nd Hour    +25 Euros
  • 3rd Hour     +20 Euros
  • All Day         99 Euros

Madrid. Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.

Palace de Cristal

The past, the present and the future are notions, measures of time that we are taught to live from, in, and for.  However does anyone ever prepare you for the moment when you encounter a place, a culture or a lifestyle that stands one foot in the past and one foot in the present with the future not yet determined?

Calle de Santiago


Madrid and its countryside have caused me to re-think what I once considered to be two measures of time.  Castles from the 1600s, aqueducts built by the Romans, traditions that run through the blood of each generation, a common reluctance if not inability to speak outside their native tongue.  The people and the places within Madrid and its nearby suburbs live and tell the story of Spain in the past.

However, the Madrid I experienced today is what simply seems to be an adaptation of the past.  Of course Madrid has its fair share of modern cuisine, technology, transportation, architecture, etc.  Yet, the surroundings and the way of life are based on a simple balance of how it has always been done and minor changes that have been accepted — in time.

Modern Madrid

Segovia Aqcueduct

It’s the contrast of the city that I found most appealing.  The Plaza Mayor with its traditional Spanish architecture, cafes, and coin shops which sits adjacent to the newly restored and updated Mercado San Miguel.  An old covered market that has recently been restored only to become a center for high quality local food products, tapas, and drink.  A Roman aqueduct stands since the 1st century, yet the street leading up to it is full of sunglasses, lingerie, and mobile telephone stores.

The contrast can be mesmerizing at every turn, yet the most enduring quality of Madrid is the attitude to everyday life.  The difference between Americans and Spaniards is that Americans spend their entire life trying to figure it out — where as Spaniards simply live it.

The average workday is long yet nobody complains, 8am – 8pm with a 1.5 – 2 hour “Lunch” break around 2 o’clock (biggest meal of the day) .  Dinner begins around 10pm and consists mainly of small plates or tapas.  They never stay in one place for too long, they live for family, friends, food, and drink.  They are passionate, loud, and energetic.  They make this city and this country easy to fall in love with.

Museo del Jamon

Tapas with Friends

My hope is that Spain stands its ground — one foot based in the past with their history, tradition, and lifestyle… yet continues to adapt to the world around it, taking only those aspects of the present and the future that will encourage the country and it’s people to grow stronger than that of which they already are.