Ian and I spent last weekend in Madrid, a city neither of us had visited before. We both adore Spain and the short flight from the UK makes it ideal for a getaway.
Plaza Major, Madrid
We stayed quite close to the Plaza Major, (main square) which was full of people enjoying the winter sunshine and the Christmas market.
Bus Tour of Historical Madrid
We didn’t plan our trip in too much detail, so decided an open-top bus tour of central Madrid was a good place to start. There were two options, one to see the historical areas of the city, the other to see the modern. We chose the former so we could see some of the stunning architecture.
It was a beautiful, clear day with a temperature of about 12°, which typical weather for Madrid in December. We wore light layers, a jacket and gloves and were both just about warm enough.
We got off at the Palacio Real, (Royal Palace) and took a leisurely stroll. There was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere and lots of human statues, like those that frequent Covent Garden.
Merdaco de San Miguel
Ian and I both adore good food and wine, so finding good places to eat is a priority. The Mercado de San Miguel was the highlight of our trip It’s an indoor market full of bars and tapas stands.
We went there for brunch on Saturday morning at around 11am. Everyone was standing and chatting with a plate of tapas, a glass of wine, sangria or beer and having the best of times. Of course, we needed no encouragement to embrace this wholeheartedly. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we went back and did the same again on the Sunday morning. If I could recommend only one thing to do in Madrid, it would be this.
After this, every other eaterie seemed slightly disappointing. Many of the tapas places were too “touristy”- like themed restaurants almost. This was in complete contrast to what I found during my two visits to Nerja and Ian found during several trips to Huelva. And the food during our short trip to Malaga last year was excellent. Perhaps it is because it is the capital city and it is very much geared up for tourists?
However, undeterred, we found another gem, Restaurante Cafe Varela. We ate there late afternoon, but this is a photo of it at night.
We had an excellent waiter who was very patient when I ordered because I wanted to practice my Spanish. (Ian has an excellent command of the language so doesn’t need the practice in the way I do after my one term of Spanish evening classes).
We ordered a selection of dishes, the highlight of which was scallops.
After the meal, the waiter brought a complimentary carafe of a VERY bright liquer which was grappa with chamomile and mint. I am not normally one for brandy-based drinks, but I could have drunk this all day.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
There are a lot of museums and galleries to choose from but we decided upon the Museo Arqueológico Nacional for two reasons. First, because human evolution is something that interests us both, and second, because it’s close to the large park which was next on the agenda. Like most UK museums, there is no entry fee.
Parque de El Retiro
The Parque de El Retiro is a large park, a short Metro ride away from the very central part of Madrid. It reminded me a little of Central Park, but smaller. It has the same relaxed, inclusive, “anything-goes” vibe.
Ian and I decided to take a rowing boat. This is another highlight of the trip and something I’ll remember for a long time.
I dressed my ruffle maxi down with trainers . This is one of my absolute favourites from last year and to me, seems very Spanish, (although it was from Topshop). It was tricky to get many photos because of the crowds and the light, but I couldn’t resist doing a few turns and swooshes…