In 2009, Dave and I spent 5 days in Madrid – the capital and largest city of Spain. We went in summer and had beautiful super HOT weather at 40°C every day. We stayed at Cat’s Hostel (recommended by my sister). It’s a 17th century palace that has been refurbished and ranks pretty high in my list of best looking hostels. The courtyard is a hub where you can relax and mingle with other travellers, and generally escape the midday sun. We also found Cat’s well located in the city. (They should pay me to say all this).
The first day we arrived and spent the afternoon tapas crawling; hanging out in funky bars, eating delicious tapas and drinking really potent sangria. By about 4pm we’d exhausted ourselves and needed a nap, so did the drunken walk back to our hostel and had a nap in the courtyard. Then got up and did it all over again at dinner.
We decided to revisit one of the better tapas bars from earlier in the day. Unfortunately for us, Dave and my Spanish is terrible, TERRIBLE! So, we managed to accidently order five plates of cured meat for dinner for the four of us. Which we all felt so bad about returning that we just ate it. ALL of it. To this day I can’t look at cured meat the same way.
The next morning, we were a little slow moving – due to the sangria and hot weather. We walked around and visited the Museo Reina Sofía (Queen Sofia Museum). There Dave had a bit of an art moment. You know the moment when you see something you’ve heard about for ages, but never thought you’d actually see? It’s a bit surreal and you know you’ll remember that moment forever. Well, he saw Picasso’s Guernica painting and said he felt that way (the painting depicts the Basque town of Guernica being bombed during the Spanish Civil War).
After that we had a nap in the Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park), one of the largest parks in Madrid. It sounds like we totally lazed our holiday away, but you get a good sense of what people do for leisure just lazing about in a park, people watching. Not that that was the main reason we napped, it was more a by-product.
Anyway, on our third day, we went to Madrid’s famous market El Rastro de Madrid. It’s a huge flea market, good for things like jewellery and souvenirs, fake bags, etc. After the markets, we walked around town. We went to The Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). It’s a majestic building, looks like something right out of a film adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. So naturally, I want to live there.
Day 4, we started by eating chocolate churros and drinking coffee. Yum. Then did another epic walk, ending up at the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) in Retiro Park. It’s a huge glass pavilion made 125 years ago; beautiful and delicate. Whenever you talk it echoes all around you. I loved it.
That night we did something I’ve been desperately wanting to do since my last trip to Spain (two years prior) – we saw a Flamenco show! I tell you, that was my ‘art moment’. It was EVEN better than I had imagined and something everyone should get the chance to see in their lives. In fact, I have a link to YouTube so you can see it. This was at the same place where we saw our show at Casa Patas, just a year later. The music and the woman are amazing. Click here to see.
All-in-all, I love the bits of Spain that I’ve seen. Madrid is no exception. I love music and dance, coffee and churros, blisteringly hot days, afternoon naps, late nights with red wine and delicious food. Yep, Madrid is definitely my kind of place.
If you would like to share your Madrid travel story – please do! Or if you want to know anything about what we did, where we ate or stayed – feel free to ask. And don’t forget to check out the photos below.