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Ever since studying Spanish in high school, Spain has been on my list. Madrid seemed like the logical place to start. I knew little about it before arriving other than pork was a big deal and their soccer team Real Madrid was one of the best in the world.
Give us all the details! Tell us where you went and what you did on your trip.
Day 1 – I took the metro from the airport to my Airbnb. I booked my stay very late and thus found a place far from the downtown area yet near to a very nice and very large park – Parque Casa de Campo. I would later take advantage of this for running and some nice strolls. After checking in and getting settled, I made my way to the Sol station right in the heart of Madrid. Even late at night, this place was buzzing with people and energy. I walked down the street and made a stop at Museo del Jamon. I took a seat at the bar and ordered a cava, a small glass of beer. My tapa or free small dish that accompanied the beer was seasoned rabbit. Alright! Still feeling hungry, I ordered a sandwich with jamon iberico or dry cured ham. Thus began a true love story between some of the most flavorful food and yours truly. Feeling properly fueled, I needed to visit the historic Chocolateria San Gines, which has been serving up rich hot chocolate and churros since 1894. While this place sometimes comes under criticism for being touristy, I feel like it’s a must visit, especially when the place is decorated with photos of all the famous people that have visited it. Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike. Greatly enjoying the vibes, I made a stop at the Casa Revuelta Latoneros 3 for another beer and fried cod. It was delicious and a great first day in Madrid.
Day 2 – I began my day again in the Plaza del Sol, where I would be listening to a Rick Steeves walking tour of Madrid. While I won’t go through every detail of the tour, I will highlight the places that I found most interesting. First and foremost, La Mallorquina is a landmark pastry shop founded in 1894. It is intense how many people pack into this place but it is worth the wait for a delicious pastry. After that, I made my way to the Plaza Mayor. Marvel at the buildings and wonder who has snagged one of those awesome apartments. This is an important historical site for a variety of reasons! It is often the site of current day protests and plenty of live street performances. Next, make your way inside La Torre del Oro Bar. It has quite a few bad reviews on google and I believe this is often for the service as the workers can sometimes come across as cold and/or irritated. Don’t take it personally. This bar is immaculately decorated with bulls and bull fighter memorabilia. It’s worth just peaking your head in the door. As you exit the Plaza de Mayor, snag one of the local favorite foods, bocadillo de calamare, fried calamari sandwich. Then, head to the San Miguel Market. It’s really close. This market has a variety of different stands that feature Spanish cuisine from the entire country. Internationally renowned chefs have stands in this market! Browse the different stands and try a few. Once you have loaded up on tapas, head over to the Catedral de la Almudena, a baroque style cathedral that was once visited by Pope John Paul II. The ceilings are painted bright colors and the church even has a crypt that you can explore. It’s not too spooky. Head out of the church and take a left, you’ll find the Royal Palace of Madrid. It’s awesome. While I didn’t take a tour of the building, I think it would have been worth it. It looks quite regal. All walked out, I made my way to Matador for red wine and more jamon iberico. Then, it was time to sleep.
Day 3 – I took the metro to the Chueca neighborhood. There are two popular and unique stores called La Polleria and La Coneria. They offer some…unique food options. I’ll let you do your own research if you’re curious. I walked to La Bicicleta, a cool bicycle themed coffee shop with excellent pastries. After that, I was off to El Prado! I happened to go on a day that offered a free entrance. Arriving early, I secured one of the spots and made it in for free! There is a ton of art here! I’m not that into it but I enjoyed some of the pieces they had. Feeling compelled to take advantage of more free things, I made my way to the other major art museum La Reina Sofia, where I entered for free. There I enjoyed works from Dali and Picasso. It was cool to see pieces that I had learned about in my Spanish classes from high school. Famished, I walked to a nearby bar. I visited Bar El Brillante and had some tapas. It was a culturally enriching day.
Day 4 – I had done some research prior to my trip and learned that there was an award winning bakery in Madrid. The name of the bakery was Panem and they had consistently won awards for the best croissants in Europe. This bakery did not disappoint. I got a regular croissant and one filled with an almond creme. They were life changing. Feeling as if I was floating above the ground, I walked or maybe I floated to Parque de El Retiro. It is a large park that has various fountains and a large pond with paddle boats. Make sure to visit the Palacio de Cristal in the park. It has a unique contrast to the green of the trees and often has art exhibits inside. It was time for more tapas and there was one place that I needed to visit – Calle de la Cava Baja. This is THE place to go for tapas. It is a street lined with an endless number of tapas bars. You can go bar hopping here or simply camp out in one location and have an incredible night. The two places that I visited were Taberna La Concha and Taberna Tempranillo. La Concha has an incredible house made vermouth that comes served in a martini glass. They also have some delicious tapas. I got the cured duck with slices of orange. It was incredible. They have some other unique options that are worth a try! Taberna Tempranillo has a great selection of wine! You can get smaller plates (pinchos) or some larger options if you’d like. They have a cool looking wall of wine, which is great for photos. Feeling emotionally and physically full, I returned to my Airbnb and called it a night.
Would you recommend this trip to a friend?
What was the highlight of your trip?
Madrid has incredible food options and I feel that my life was changed by them. Take advantage of the countless excellent tapas bars and bakeries!
If you were to take this trip again, is there anything you would add or do differently?
Book your lodging in advance! I visited Madrid during a busy time of the year and thus had lodgings far away from the downtown area. As well, take advantage of the free days at museums.
@shlarsen8 – (insta)
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