Not everyday I get to go to Spain with my Spanish speaking boyfriend. I guess you could say he knew a few words here and there. He wasn’t really all that much help 😉 But honestly, there are a few spots where english isn’t well spoken, you’re warned about it in bars but everywhere we did go, they were able to speak both languages fine.
I was a little skeptical going to Madrid, I thought it was gonna be like Milan for me, not really a nice place to explore and I thought I would get bored. Complete opposite of that. We arrived late on the Wednesday night and while out looking for food, we walked past so many uniques, modern or old restaurants and bars and full of people despite it being the middle of the week. In this moment, I knew I was really gonna like Madrid
Free Walking Tour
Whats our favourite thing to do? Free Walking Tour of course! I think we’ve been to just about every Sandemans tours they offer..
Catedral de la Almudena
A quite new cathedral and voted Madrid’s ugliest cathedral. Not too sure why because the inside offered such a modern array and display of colour, so maybe they meant the exterior. Going inside is free of charge and I do recommend. This cathedral is quite the architectural mess. There are at least 3 different kinds present and some were decided at the last minute too.
Mercado de San Miguel
Walking back into the main area from out free walking tour, we stumbled upon this lovely market which offered a lot of good foods and wine. And sangria.
We walked around the building so many times making sure that when we ate something it was the best thing we saw and they have a lot to offer with more than 30 shops inside. The building itself is gorgeous and offer a great atmosphere for tapas with a huge bar table in the middle. The price of the market was a little expensive compared to the other restaurants we visited, but not by much.
Tapas are food that is offered with your wine complimentary, not something you buy, so most common one we had were green olives. However, you can always buy them, it’s basically just small dishes of finger food. A little thing on tapas, no one knows where or when or why it happened. There are no documentation, nothing. But a few stories are going around. One is that the field people would drink wine for lunch and then become too drunk to keep working so the king insisted that they also be offered food. Tapa, the noun, means lid in english. So Spain typically gets really bad sand storms from Africa. Therefore, when people served the King, they didn’t wanna be that person to get sand in the Kings wine. Therefore, the covered the wine with a a dish of food and when the King asked what it was they said tapa.
I was a little disappointed when we went out for drinks. Everywhere else I was use to them having an unique menu with drinks i’ve never heard of. Here and every bar we researched it seemed to be that case too. But nonetheless, the drinks were well crafted and yummy.
Parque de El Retiro
On our last day and the day with the shittiest weather, we decided to walk outside, in the muddy park, in the pouring rain with one umbrella. FUN!
Palacio de Cristal
The park itself was gorgeous and actually a lot bigger than I thought. It was like a mixture between central park and the gardens from Alice in Wonderland. And everything so green! We loved the mild winter in Madrid.
The crystal palace as seen above now holds art exhibitions or in our case a sound installation. Which was meh but it was good to be dry. It was originally a palace to showcase flora and fauna from the Philippines when it was still under Spanish rule.
Calle Gran Via
Just walking around Madrid was sufficient enough to see its beauty. Everywhere was so grand and big and luxurious. Not to mention some of the biggest Mango’s and Zara’s we’ve been too (but they do originate in Spain) and then walking down some more smaller streets and seeing the boutiques. We were completely mesmerized by Spain.
Tapas and Wine
The places that we went to were simply amazing to say the least. We loved try the many tapas and the red wines from the regions of Spain and of course the Sangria. We did not feel like tourists in these restaurants, we were surrounded by the locals. Maybe because we were away from the main tourist centres.
Here we felt that Spain and Italy shared some values, like their food. This was the kind of food we were looking for in Milan and Venice but never quite found. The take value in the quality of their food and treat you like family. All the restaurants we went too as well could only handle a few tables, maybe 5 and to us, these are the best kind of restaurants. In Italy and Spain, the smaller the better. Even the menus are smaller. This is because they take pride in the few dishes they do make instead of making so many dishes that they lose their love.