Last year we planned the vacation of a lifetime to Madrid Spain. My husband spent a solid 6 months planning this excursion for us. Details included booking an apartment in the heart of Madrid, planning out museums, sights and a trip on the high speed train to Barcelona. Our dreams came to reality October of last year when we got to experience our first trip overseas.
This trip seems like a lifetime ago but in the spirit of sharing, I wanted my readers to see just how beautiful and cultured Spain is.
We stayed in Sol, which is in the dead center of Madrid. Sol is full of monuments, shops, restaurants and bars. Madrid itself is made up of over 128 different neighborhoods. Experiencing different neighborhoods when traveling teaches you about the diversity of a city. Madrid is a very walkable city. We felt very comfortable walking and exploring. It does not seem quite as overwhelming when you break into manageable chunks. If you are looking for upscale shopping similar to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, than Salamanca is for you. You will find the top Spanish designers and the most well know luxury brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel just to name a few.
We also spent some time in Huertas, Retiro, Chueca, Malasana, Gran Via, La Latina and Lavapies. The Retiro is known for the sprawling Retiro Park. Visitors and families spend lazy weekend days just walking, having a picnic or renting a rowboat in the park’s giant man made lake.
My favorite part of the trip was the culinary scene. Our apartment was very close to the Mercado de San Miguel. We hit this busy market our first day in Madrid. The experience was quite overwhelming with many food and drink options. This place was bustling with tourists and regulars. I went for the tapas experience. Tapas are small portions that are appetizer sized and are often only a euro or two at the bar. I chose to go with a few tapas and a glass of wine. The asparagus and calamari were some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The market had several wine bars to choose from. Wine was very reasonably priced in Spain compared to the United States. You could purchase a great bottle for roughly 16 Euros or 21 US Dollars.
We did not head out for dinner until after 9pm quickly settling into the local vibe of eating late. We decided on Casa 9 which was within walking distance of our apartment. This had been highly recommended on a Spanish food blog I had been following. We enjoyed this restaurant so much we dined there twice. You cannot go wrong with the Menu of the Day or Menu Diario as they call it in Spain. This was a 3 course meal along with a glass of wine for a very reasonable price.
We planned a day trip to Barcelona and took the high speed rail line. The Madrid–Barcelona high-speed rail line is a 621-kilometer (386 mi) standard gauge railway line. Designed for speeds of 350 km/h (217 mph) and compatibility with neighboring countries rail systems, it connects the cities of Madrid and Barcelona in 2 hours 30 minutes. Upon arrival to Barcelona, we decided to do the ‘”tourist” thing and take the double decker tour bus to learn the area. One of the most amazing sights was the Sagrada Familia. For those not familiar, this is a large Roman Catholic church designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. This is one of the most visited monuments in Barcelona. We took in most of the sights via the tour bus but in retrospect would definitely try to spend at least a minimum of 3 days to take in the beauty of the city.
10 days in Madrid, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I was taken by the fact that even though Madrid is cosmopolitan and modern in many respects, it’s also steeped in rich history. After having a taste of Barcelona and Madrid I will definitely be visiting Spain again….next trip it’s straight to the wine region of Rioja!
What are your favorite destinations abroad or in Spain? I would love to hear from you!