I went to Madrid with no expectations, I left with my heart filled with love
Madrid, capital of Spain and one of the most dynamic cities in Europe is definitely worth at least one visit. I remember going there for the first time, having little expectations. This, because if you have noticed, there is no much about Madrid in the press. Yes, there are usual travel articles, but put it this way, the city is not as advertised as London, Paris or Rome… or Barcelona.
So, why there?
As you know, I’m Mexican, which in my case means, I have Spanish blood, last name and of course, language. In addition, I have amazing friends from Spain who invited me to come visit some day. So I did! BEST. DECISION. EVER. I remember entering the city early in the evening and being impressed by the illumination, there were lights everywhere! The vibe was so relax and festive. I fell in love with Madrid the moment I entered it.
I am a foodie, as you may have probably hinted at this point. Spanish cuisine is a wonderful mix of flavours coming from different regions and lifestyles. I mean, Spain is a country with such cultural diversity built on centuries of regional movement, foreign invasions, etc. Because my trip lasted only 10 days, I did not get the chance to taste all the different food around. But, here are my three top food moments when in Madrid!
My kingdom for everyday lunch time composed by bocatas de calamares and a cup of sangria! The bocata is basically a deep fried calamari sandwich. Nothing really fancy about it, especially the deep fried part haha, but OMG, it’s so delicious. The best part is the price: I remember paying about 5 euros for the whole kit: sandwich + sangria.
If you want to end your Madrid day walk with a nice dessert or if you want to relax a bit, go get a nice cocoa with churros. This place is very touristic. I remember arriving and seeing lines of tourists waiting to pay for their churros with chocolate. Still, the service is so fast hat I did’t have to wait that much to get my food. In all honesty, I was not expecting much because of the touristic element. But, I was sent there by a friend who is from the city, so, why not giving it the benefit of the doubt. Well, it was worth it haha. The chocolate is dark and thick, not too sweet, not at all bitter, perfect balance! Churros were fresh and also came without any sugar. There are sugar pots on every table, so you can add some to your churros if you want it. And again, price was so cheap, around 3 euros for the chocolate and 6 churros!
I went with one of my friends just to get some beer and a bit of food… but the nice surprise was the “Huevos rotos”, which is some sort of poutine… without gravy but with eggs! Yet, it’s a similar recipe: fries, serrano ham, chorizo, whatever you want and then broken eggs on top! The best discovery ever!!
Well, yes, I was visiting friends in Madrid, but also in a touristic mood! So, I had to do both local and touristic things. My top 3 picks are the following!
OMG, what’s not to love about this amazing park? It’s huge, with plenty of trees and plants, flowers and fountains. It has monuments, ponds, a palace, architectural gardens. My favourite part was the Monument to Alfonso XII at the Retiro Pond and the Paseo de la Argentina (Argentina walk a.k.a. Statue walk). I also enjoyed the Rosaleda garden. I could spend days and days walking around this park.
- Museo Reina Sofía or any other of the three main museums.
Europe is culture. Period. Hence, of course you will find in Madrid excellent cultural options, like the museums. Even though, because of time constraints I could only visit the Reina Sofia, there are two other great options: the Museo del Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. For those who like contemporary and 20th century art, the best option is definitely the Reina Sofia. In fact, chronologically, this museum follows the Museo del Prado in which you will find art created between the 12th and early 20th centuries. The best part? You have free access to el Prado every weekday from 6p.m to 8p.m.! Of course, you have to be there earlier and be ready to make a loooong line.
A beautiful garden located in the historical Madrid, Plaza de España is a place where you can just sit and relax. Yes, despite being surrounded by avenues filled with cars, you can actually feel some calm in here. Maybe it’s the gardens, or the Cervantes monument, I don’t know for sure, but I did enjoy being here!
- Walk around Madrid streets
Central Madrid is a place to be enjoyed by walking around. To paraphrase Lizzie Bennett “I’m very fond of walking” and Madrid gave me the perfect excuse to do it extensively! Every corner was so different and yes, occasionally it reminded me of some colonial cities in Mexico. After all, a big part of Mexican culture comes from Spain. I cannot describe the feeling of getting “lost” in such a wonderful city. Walking through small streets, contemplating the beautiful buildings, watching people come and go to work, to the library, to the restaurant… smelling men’s perfume!
I got there when walking around Madrid without direction haha. The building is beautiful, and what’s inside is even better! Food, food, food! Oisters, delicatessen, bread, grains, fruits, name it! Drinks as well, from tea to alcohol. In this market everything is a delight for the senses: colours, smells, flavours, textures, the sound of people talking, enjoying a nice moment. A MUST if you’re in Madrid.
- Celebrate one of the city’s soccer teams big win!
Spain has a long soccer tradition. I mean, they were the 2010 World Cup champions after all! Madrid is home to the legendary and famous Real Madrid… and also to the less internationally known Atlético Madrid or Atleti. So, anytime one of these two teams win big, their fans take the streets of Madrid to celebrate! Of course, each have a particular place where all fans gather to make the big fiesta: Cibeles for the Real Madrid and the Neptuno fountain for the Atleti. I was lucky enough to be there when BOTH teams qualified for the Champions finals!! I got to celebrate with Atleti fans (my train station was near the celebratory place!). I had a blast singing and dancing and feeling people’s joy thanks to their team winning an important game and getting the chance to win an important tournament! They didn’t win at the end, so the final celebration took place at Cibeles (alas, I wasn’t there anymore!).