Although many of my friends do not live in the same county, never mind town as me. I do have friends living across Europe and although they are missed it does mean I am able to visit places far and wide with the benefit of having a local as a tour guide. My latest trip to visit a friend was to Madrid, Spain.
Stuart is a friend of Matt and I who made the brave decision to pack up his life in the UK and relocate to Madrid after falling in love with it during his ERASMUS year. Eight months after his move he has just landed his dream job at a great company, moved into a fantastic apartment near the city centre, has a great bunch of friends and after spending the last 5 days with him its safe to say he is not regretting his decision to move at all! Matt and I had promised to visit him this year and with summer feeling like a million years away we decided to take our mini break at the beginning of March.
After arriving late on Wednesday evening we caught the airport bus straight into town. The metro does go straight from the airport, however it’s a bit of a walk from arrivals and you have to change to get right into the centre of Madrid. The airport bus cost us only us 5euros and was a 30 minute ride to Atocha.It was a short walk from here to my friend’s apartment where we rested for the evening ready for a busy day of sight seeing.
Thursday we bought a ten ride metro ticket each for only 12euros and spent the day as tourists do- taking pictures of buildings, buying over priced drinks in Plaza Mayor and complaining of sore feet. We went to see the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Plaza Mayor and Retiro Park. We met our friend and his flatmate for lunch at their favourite restaurant Taberna Malaspina. Here we had a little feast and we were really impressed with the food, so much so that we actually ended up eating there 3 times over our break.
In the evening we were given the option of picking any cuisine and our friend would take us to the best place in the city. Matt chose Italian so we met up with my friend’s girlfriend and caught the train up to Nuevos Ministerios and had a little double date in a fantastic Italian restaurant.
Friday was a more relaxed day after giving ourselves achy feet from walking so much on day one. We caught the metro to Arguelles, found a patisserie and picked up some pastries for breakfast- you can tell its a holiday when I’m eating pastries for breakfast! We then took our picnic breakfast up to Templo de Debod and enjoyed it in 23degree heat while looking out over the city. Templo de Debod is primarily an Egyptian temple gifted to Spain by Egypt, however secondly it is a popular workout area where it seems many Madrid residents choose to run. So I felt rather guilty stuffing my face with pastries while people were literally running circles around me… but hey I was on holiday!
After relaxing for an hour or so we explored the temple then headed to Alonso Martinez to meet our friend and his girlfriend on his lunch break. After having a nosey around the area we dived into a little restaurant and had the Menu del Dia. Matt and I had very little idea what exactly was on the menu but with some translation help from Laura and Stu we both picked dishes we really enjoyed. Menu del Dia was fantastic value – 3 courses plus a drink for only 11.90euro – and this is classed as a more pricey menu due to area of town we were in!
In the afternoon Matt and I took a wander down to Calle de Serrano where I did some window shopping and Matt dragged me away from the windows of Prada, Gucci, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton before I set my heart on another expensive handbag. We headed back to Retiro Park with kindle and bottles of water in hand and found a quiet spot in the sun and relaxed in the heat for an hour before heading back to the apartment.
In the evening the boys decided that curry was the dish they craved so we walked into town and to the boy’s favourite Indian restaurant. Now a good Indian restaurant is hard to find in Spain but the boys had found a good one after much trial and error. It was warm enough to enjoy dinner outside, which is unusual for the beginning of March in Madrid. After our curry we visited a few bars and after a few more glasses of wine we jumped in a taxi and headed home.
Saturday was the first day we were able to enjoy fully with our friend as he had been working all week. So we basically followed his usual Saturday routine which involved a walk in the sun into town, lunch at his favourite restaurant, a sunbathe in the park before heading to play football in the evening. I chose to pass on the football and had a little siesta as I knew that I would definitely need it!
Saturday night was party night and like all things Spanish it started later than in the UK! We started drinking at the apartment with friends at about 9.30 but didn’t get a taxi into town until 1.30am…. A time you would normally see me heading home from the club never mind going out! (See why I chose the siesta!)
We headed to Palace which is a club opposite the opera in the centre of town. Palace was chosen as it has a good mix of people which includes foreigners, tourists and locals so it has quite a friendly atmosphere. Entry was 12euros for guys and 10euros for girls however this included two drinks, and as with all drinks in Spain, these were strong drinks! The club was filled with a wide range of ages from 18 to I would guess 55. Everyone was up dancing on the large dance floor and the DJ appeared to play songs in a sequence of 3 Spanish/Latin America songs and then 3 US/UK songs; so there was music for all tastes. We managed to last until 4.30 before heading home.
Sunday was a very lazy day on account of the very late night the night before. So once everyone was awake and surprisingly hangover free we headed to a shopping mall; La Gavia on the outskirts of town and indulged at a Brazilian Rodizio. After a mooch around we then took the metro to Buenos Aires and went to enjoy one of the best views of Madrid at Seven Tits Park… (yes you heard me right) …perfect for watching the sun set.
Monday was time to say our goodbyes as everyone headed back to work and Matt and I back to the airport. We treated ourselves to one last lunch at Taberna Malaspina where we enjoyed Patatas Bravas and Tortilla. We then caught the metro up to the Airport.
We had a fantastic time catching up with our friend and exploring the city that Matt and I both last visited 7 years ago… Matt the first time Stuart lived in Madrid and I on my A level Spanish trip.
Madrid is often overlooked when people think of city breaks, and I ask you not to. Although to some it’s a concrete jungle… To me it was lively, full of history and culture, offered fantastic food and drink and was filled with friendly people. With great shops, fantastic restaurants and bars and some stunning architecture and parks there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Have you ever taken a trip to Madrid? What were your thoughts? Which cities are your favourite for City Breaks?