Monday, 13 July 2015

48 hours in Madrid - eating my way round a city

With The Boy having been on deployment recently, we hadn’t seen each other for about 6 weeks so we decided that for his return home, we would treat ourselves to a quick getaway with a few days in sunny Madrid. 

Once you have factored in the flights and travel (plus the obligatory delay from Ryanair), we only had 48 hours in the capital city, but this was enough to fit our purpose – to chill, eat and drink! And eat some more...

Madrid city centre

Day one
Taking the metro into the city centre, we got off at La Latina and walked up towards Plaza de Mayor, checking out the surrounding areas. My lovely friend Frenchy told me La Latina was one of the places to go for chilling and soaking up atmosphere and she weren't wrong. 

Along the way, we stopped for a much needed frozen yoghurt at llaollao, in cute shaded alley-like street (called Toledo) leading up to the square. This was the first of three in the next 48 hours! 

If you're a sweetie fan like me than go opposite the froyo place for the longest strawberry laces you have ever seen. 

Madrid is filled with quaint spaces 
(froyo on the left)

Plaza de Mayor
After froyo, we walked up to the main square Plaza de Mayor in the city centre to relax, soak up the atmosphere and have my first sangria of the trip! I don’t know if the sangria was really that good or I was just in desperate need of the cool refreshing vino thanks to the delay of the Ryanair flight, but I was really appreciating the Spanish drink. 

La Plaza de Mayor

We nestled ourselves at Liana outside for so long that it soon became time for dinner, which of course had to be tapas. Chorizo, manchego cheese, prawns in garlic and potato croquettes and salad. If you’re eating there, do opt for the tasty little croquettes, but skip the prawns – they were ok but nothing special.

The Roof
We had read that The Roof was the bar to go to in Madrid, and always a fan of rooftop bars, I didn’t need asking twice. It took a bit of detective work getting there as we only knew it was in Plaza de Santa Ana. So heading there we looked around for a sign, but it’s the kind of place that doesn't do sings! Knowing it was 7 stories up, we decided it had to be on top of this ornate white. Bingo. Found. For an easier find, head for the large ornate white building that is a ME hotel. 

It costs $15 for entry but does include your drink (a few more euros for a cocktail) and offers a good view of Mardid in a chilled, sophisticated setting. 

View from The Roof

Enjoying a whisky sour

Day two

Mercado de San Miguel
Seeing as this was a trip for relaxing, my only activity would be eating a drinking, so we didn’t rise before 11am. Going straight into lunch, it was tapas time again and we headed to Mercado de San Miguel, a cool indoor market offering tapas, tasty bites and sweet treats.

I absolutely loved it there and it is the perfect place to try a little of everything. I opted for mozzerella stall with its offerings of the most creamiest mozzerella on little toasts. Have you ever had smoked mozerella? No, me neither until then but it was blooming amazing.

tapas at Mercado San Miguel

Hop on hop off bus 
Deciding to be  little cultured, we got the hop on-hop off city tour bus (we purchased our tickets at the airport). We got off at the Real Jardin Botanico, not for our love of flowers but because we wanted to cut across and get to the El Retiro park (Parque El Retiro) behind it. You can't though. So we just paid $3 for the pleasure of getting lost in the botanical garden in 40 degree heat.

Parque de el Retiro
Making our way to the boating lake, we stopped for something a little more refreshing than the sun-warmed water we were carrying around. A little pricey at $5 each but the lemon slush hit the spot for a refreshing drink whilst watching the world go by and tourists struggling to row in the heat (did I mention it was 40 bloody degrees?!)

Hop on hop off bus
Back on the bus for the rest of the scenic tour of Madrid, where we finished up at Gran Via. The bus tour certainly is the lazy way to sight see, but I must admit, this wasn’t the best one. It made Madrid seem, well... boring! The commentary was all about the buildings! Don’t get me wrong, it s a pretty city and I love the architecture but even a geek like me gets a little bored of building chat after an hour.

Buying turron
We got off the bus right opposite the turron shop that I kept walking past and cooing over. Turron being Spain’s sweet almond and honey hard nougat. If you are looking to buy some turron, get it here at Turrones Vicens, at 43 Calle Mayor as there are so many varieties and flavours. 

one of the many stunning buildings 

The second frozen yoghurt of the trip.

After a quick shower to get the day’s sweat off, we headed for dinner at Plaza de Santa Ana – a charming little square filled with vibrant restaurants. All the restaurants looked to offer the same so I don’t think there is much in it, but we opted for Cerveceria Santa Ana. With our seafood paella, we opted for the avocado salad, a plate of chorizo (it would be rude not too) and two baskets of complimentary bread and olive oil. I washed it down of course with sangaria. Avoid the local beer - it tastes like carling. Stick to San Miguel.

a must eat in Spain!

Museo Chicote
The lonely planet guide stated that this bar was the place to go and that no trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to this funky cocktail bar with live DJ. Upon arrival it was quite empty but had filled out more when we left around 1am. Th cocktails were good and the stylish fixtures made for a great atmosphere, and I really appreciated the air con – but to say my trip to Madrid was completed thanks to coming here would be a bit far fetched! Still, a great date night place and worth the post dinner drinks.

Day three

Mercado de san Miguel
Again, another lazy start to the day so we sit was straight to Mercado de san Miguel again for lunch. One of the stalls has “empanadillas”, these little Spanish pasties with various fillings – the stall offers two and a glass of wine for 6 euros. They are deceivingly filling. 

After buying the obligatory holiday tat souvenir we headed to Secret Jardin on the floor of the Salvador Bachiller shop. Not only does this place have some great pieces but there is a tea room on the 3rd floor and roof top garden. This was such a magical find and definitely goes on my must do list for Madrid! It offers a little piece of serenity in a bustling hot city.

Getting around and accommodation

It is fairly easy to navigate around the centre of Madrid, and the metro serves the city well, running until 2am. We stayed on line 5 of the metro which was a good choice as a lot of the stops we wanted for the main areas were on the line. There seems to be plenty of choices for accommodation in the city centre and around. Don't get breakfast included with the hotel - get out and try the local cuisine! 

Must pack essentials in Madrid 
A fan (did I mention it was 40*!!!) a map, suncream, and a large appetite!!!

X x X 

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