It was long overdue, but i was recently able to pay a visit to Spain’s capital, Madrid. It was a pretty full on weekend – thankfully I had gone to Essen the weekend prior to refuel on energy and TLC, courtesy of my German family!
Em and I originally booked to go Madrid as an alternative to visiting Oslo, which was getting way too expensive to justify … And after awesome conditions in the French Riviera and Essen, I was totally keen to catch some more sunshine before winter creeps in. In some weird stroke of fate, it was later discovered that my 2 flatmates had also booked to go Madrid that weekend .. On the exact same flights! Any flimsy prospect of a sensible and tame weekend quickly dissipated then and there.
We touched down late Friday night and got a cab into town. Helpfully for tourists, any trips between the airport and the central zone of Madrid attracts a flat fare – no opportunities to get rorted by rogue taxis which is always good! Em and I were staying next to the Mercado de San Miguel food hall, and being Spain, things were still bustling there (and in the surrounds) at 1am. However, we were completely knackered so decided to take the opportunity to have a good night’s rest.
Saturday morning started off bright and early, with a free walking tour (prebooked) of the Madrid Old Town – always worth doing when one arrives in a new city. Joined by my flatties Sam and Scott, we were educated by our very entertaining guide, Sebastian, about Madrid’s longwinded, multicultural history and on how this little poorman’s village, unprepared as it was, somehow became the capital of Spain and a major power player in Europe.
After the walking tour (with a sneaky 11am beer along the way), it was time to get fed!
In summary, this is what panned out afterwards (with some sight seeing slotted here and there):
- Tapas & sangria (a food hall I don’t remember)
- Tapas & sangria (at an awesome tapas bar called El Tigre, where complimentary tapas are served with your drinks)
- Tequila (courtesy of the waiters of El Tigre, who felt that giving us free tapas wasn’t enough)
- Jamon and sangria (at the Egyptian Temple of Debod)
- Tapas & sangria (Mercado de San Miguel food hall)
- Tapas & sangria (somewhere lacklustre)
- Jamon & sangria (at the House of Ham)
- Garlic prawns & sangria (at La Casa del Abuelo)
- Jamon & sangria (at some bar, after we had vowed to stop ordering food)
By this stage … It was only 1am, and in Spain, that means the night was just starting.
The following 4 hours passed by like a blur in some Spanish club that a bunch of pretty Spanish girls told our clan to visit lol
The next morning wasn’t so fun, as we woke up hungover, in a room smelling like chicken nuggets – thanks to a late night Maccas run where we thought it a great idea to buy 20 nuggets, only to end up falling asleep and not touching them at all.
The day that ensued saw us walking around like sunglass-cladded zombies. After a hearty breakfast of delicious paella, we tried to do some shopping before sauntering down to the La Terraza del Circulo de Bellas Artes (rooftop bar) to take in the views of Madrid and chill out/recover before going home. To our delight, the bar also had day beds! Handy tip – this place feels virtually impossible to get into, with massive round-the-block queues during lunchtimes and towards evening. We were able to capitalise on siesta time by getting up there at 2pm on a Sunday, no queues whatsoever! Otherwise, you could also play it safe and make a booking at the restaurant. For the entrance fee of 3EUR, it is totally worth a visit if in Madrid.
That said, every place mentioned above is worth a visit! I returned to London content, with a newfound appreciation for Spain’s capital city, and copious amounts of jamon in my belly. Though Madrid has a completely different feel to Barcelona, it definitely does a good job at being a pleasant surprise to those who visit it.