Madrid | Spain Adventures 2/3
After two full days in Barcelona (read more here) , my friends, chaperones, teachers, and I loaded up on a bus and drove about seven hours to Madrid. Unfortunately, we were not able to ride the AVE, a high speed train in Spain that would’ve made the trip a bit faster, but by driving, we were able to see some really neat parts of Spain! I am not kidding, old castles and beautiful stone buildings that date back to hundreds of years ago, lined the main highway. Mind blowing.
After driving about seven hours, we finally made it to Madrid! We took some time to all get settled into our hotel, Apartosuites Jardines de Sabatini, which was such a neat hotel! Apparently is also had a rooftop terrace with a killer few of the Royal Palace, but we sadly never made it up there. We then headed to dinner where we all enjoyed traditional Spanish paella. It also happened to be Ms. Kamal’s (one of our chaperones) birthday so after a little celebration at dinner, a few gals and I went to the cutest coffee shop/bakery down the street from our hotel with Ms. Kamal. There, we enjoyed some super good matcha lattes as well as a chocolate covered palmier!
We kicked off our first full day in Madrid with breakfast at our hotel and this hotel, by far, had the best breakfast! Each morning, I had something along the lines of a piece of Spanish omelette, prosciutto and brie, some fruit, and one too many chocolate croissants (I think they were the best chocolate croissants I have ever had). Enough about food, we spent the morning museum-ing. First up, El Mueseo del Prado. We got no where near seeing the whole thing, but we did get the general gist. El Prado contains Madrid’s more classical artwork, such as Las Meninas by Velasquez. I will say, I absolutely love the old portraits of various monarchy. Then, we made our way to La Reina Sofia, a very contemporary and modern museum, also the home of Picasso’s famous La Guernica. Although parts of La Reina Sofia were a bit much for me personally, I really did enjoy and find interest in some of the artwork that reflected the Spanish Civil War.
By this point in the day, we were all hungry to say the least so we eventually made our way over to lunch at El Bistró del Retiro, where I got a really great pizza (i know, sooo Spanish). After a much needed food break, we strolled through El Parque del Retiro. This park was actually where the Spanish royal family used to spend their time and let me tell you, it is so pretty. I wish I could’ve gone on a run there because man, the trail around the park looked so lovely. After snapping some pics in front of the pond, grabbing some gelato, and checking out the glass building, we spent an hour or so just relaxing in the park and hanging out. For dinner that night, we went to a family owned restaurant and were served by one of the owners herself!
For our second full day in Madrid, we started by exploring El Mercado de San Miguel, one of the coolest food markets I have ever been to. If I ever live in Madrid, I will certainly spend my Sunday mornings there. After munching on some of the treats we found there, Madelyn, Caroline, a few chaperones, and I set out to find a espadrille store. A quick side note, a few years ago, my parents went to Madrid and their tour guide (who they say was just fabulous) showed them a little espadrille store that is just off the main plaza. Not only are the espadrilles made in the store, but they are also incredibly cheap and come in every color and style under the sun. Anyway, my parents brought back a pair of espadrilles for us all. So since I found out i was going to Spain, I was planning to visit this store to get some more espadrilles and see all the options available. My dad sent me the exact location of the store and everything. We ended up finding the store, but unfortunately, it is open Mon-Sat, and it was a Sunday…big big big sad. I guess that just means I will have to visit Madrid again some day. Right? After everyone finished up at the market, we all walked back over to Plaza Mayor, or the main plaza.
We then all walked to the one of my favorite parts about our time in Madrid, the Royal Palace. There, we independently walked through and toured the palace and the palace grounds. Let me say, that palace is just so pretty, inside and out. The royal family no longer lives there, but it is used to host events and guests. As you can see by the amount of pictures I took, I really couldn’t get enough of the palace. We ended up eating a late lunch at the cutest little restaurant that was on just a little side street in Madrid. After lunch, everyone split into smaller groups and headed for the shops!! I ended up buying a few rather inexpensive goodies due to the crazy sales, some of which I brought back to my family and some I got for myself! Stradivarious was one of the purely European stores I popped into and they had some really neat and unique pieces. I ended up finding a super cool retro puffer for a great deal!
We wrapped up the day by having a traditional Latin dinner at Casa Jaguar. I know what your thinking, Latin food in Spain?! Though it sounds weird, it was actually so good, perhaps one of my favorite dinners overall. I had vegetable enchiladas and they were fantastic! The next morning, we had our last breakfast in Madrid spent the day driving to our next and final city, Sevilla!
Overall, Madrid was a really neat city. During the day, it appears to be another neat Spanish city with history written everywhere, but around dusk, the streets and sidewalks are suddenly full of people. In a way, Madrid reminded me very much of a not-so-modern version of New York City. While, I don’t think I would want to live in Madrid full time, I would absolutely love to revisit such a fabulous city!