More Eurotrip adventure recaps! Maybe I’ll actually finish these before it reaches a year since we set off on these travels? We pushed onwards to Spain’s capital, Madrid, where we stayed in the heart of the city – Puerta Del Sol. When we arrived at the hostel in the evening and asked where nearby was good to eat, the guy at the desk gave us a weird look and said ‘Go outside. You are surrounded by good places to eat.’ I kind of regretted staying in the midst of party town after the first couple of nights as we are not exactly party people, but it was convenient to be at the doorstep of many restaurants and bars.
Madrid is both a partying city and a city of culture and art, and the varied architecture in particular really caught my interest. The huge Palacio Real is imposing but stunning, and it was cool to see the reconstructed farmacia (pharmacy) filled with early medicines in glass and porcelain jars.
Another favourite was the El Retiro Park, where I got lost when out jogging and my phone ran out of batteries (serves me right for relying on Google Maps!), and returned to with Jeff later for photos. The slightly crazy topiary and perfectly manicured gardens reminds me of Alice in Wonderland somehow. We also visited the El Prado museum, which I somehow have absolutely not recollection of! This is the problem with writing recaps so long after the fact…
But the highlight of our stay in Madrid was going to see a flamenco dance. We chose Las Carboneras, mainly because we were given a discount card from the guide of a city walking tour we did on the first day. I was prepared for a cheesy, touristy performance but was pleasantly surprised – the musicians and dancers performed with such passion that it’s impossible to not be moved by it. There’s an intensity to the rhythm, the singing, the stamping and the contrast of the fast and slow parts that is really captivating, and I’m so glad I didn’t dismiss it as being too touristy and miss out!
Madrid Foodie Notes:
- In various places around Spain (although we first saw it in Madrid, where there are many), you’ll see Museo del Jamón stores. It isn’t literally a museum about ham, cool as that sounds, but a strange mashup of pub, deli and sandwich shop. You can order various different plates of cured meats with cheese and bread, and of course beer to wash it down! The Boy and I love trying different foods, so a plate of six different kinds of ham and sausage made for a very satisfying lunch. They also do bocadillo, a bread roll with filling (in this case ham of course) which makes a nice cheap meal when on the move.
- We visited Chocolateria San Ginés, which is famous for its churros… but were really unimpressed. I ended up only eating a small bit and leaving The Boy to finish the rest. My perfect churro memory will forever be the ones we got from a food van in Bilbao.
- The Mercado de San Miguel is a stunningly beautiful building and has a great vibe, although you’ll notice that it’s filled mainly with tourists and we found the tapas generally a bit overpriced. But there was one guy selling bocconcini tapas, which I thought were unique and worth the cost.
- On our first night we dined at Venta el Buscón, which was near our hostel. It was late, by our standards, for dinner and so we were the last ones to leave as they were closing up. For this the staff rewarded us with a free shot each, and another for me as The Boy ran back to the hostel to retrieve his wallet which he had forgotten to bring with him. The food was decent but the shots made it memorable!
- In most places we dined at in Madrid, buying a drink in a bar usually gets you one tapa, usually something small like some olives or if you’re lucky some sliced chorizo.