A Taste of Madrid, Spain

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Madrid in 4 days

Travel Dates: June 9, 10, 11, 15th (4 days, 4 nights with Barcelona in between)

Places visited: Madrid, Toledo, Segovia

Weather:  The weather in Madrid was amazing! There is barely any humidity, making 80 degree weather very comfortable. Nights are a little chilly, around the 60s so we brought a sweater when we went to rooftops (so many rooftop bars!). We had a little bit of rain in Segovia but 90% of our trip was in the sun. The sun sets at 9:30pm which means lots of light for the majority of the day, which means more time outdoors!

Getting Around: The metro system is great in Madrid. We took buses and trains to our destinations and we had no problem getting from place to place despite our limited Spanish!

Getting to and from the airport: Coming from the airport, we took the train which you have to pay for an airport supplement for 3 euros. The train took us to the city center then we transferred to the line we needed.  Be sure to buy the ticket for 10 rides which will cost much less than single rides. We took the C1 bus that took us from Atocha Station to the airport and costs 5 euros. What is great is you can pay the bus driver cash on the buses!

We didn’t take cabs or Uber’s that often maybe once or twice since the train system is pretty reliable. However compared to Uber in Barcelona, Madrid’s wait time is definitely much shorter.

Food Scene:  When we went to our first tapas bar in Madrid, we quickly realized we had to run to grab a seat at the bar if wanted to get served. We had the most amazing tapas, from olives to  jamon to seafood. Spain is the biggest producers of olive oil so you bet we had a lot of amazing olive oil on our trip. We also had a lot of vermouth which I discovered I really like ! Nightlife wise, we tried to keep up with the people in Madrid but of course we couldn’t… dinner started around 9pm and at midnight people are strolling along the streets at bars on a Tuesday. It’s such a lively place even at 2am!

Tips: From what we heard, there is no required tip for the bill in Madrid but it is always appreciated. We just rounded to the nearest dollar when we could and included a tip when there was an option to include a tip when we paid by credit card.

Accommodations: We stayed at an Air b n b during the first part of our stay in Madrid, also in Barcelona, then we stayed at a hotel for one night after returning to Madrid before leaving to NYC.

Day 1

After getting off the plane we headed over to Atocha station to drop off our bags. The system was extremely easy. We placed our bags through the security belt then used the kiosk to purchase a locker for our belongings. Then, we received a ticket that was the key to our locker. We left all our bags there so we could go explore Madrid luggage-free since it was too early to check into our Air b n b. It only cost us a few euros to be able to place our bags in there for the whole day! We would highly recommend it for anyone who needs a place to store their belongings. Our Air b n b was close to the Atocha station so it was a convenient location for us to drop off and pick up our stuff.

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After dropping off our stuff, we went to Puerta Del Sol, and checked out the famous statue- El Oso y El Madroño!

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We also walked through the bustling and beautiful Plaza Mayor.

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We then stopped by the famous Chocolatería San Ginés, established in 1894, for chocolate and churros (yummy!). We were confused at first of how we could place an order but we paid first at the counter and then grabbed a seat outside where a waitress came to greet us and we gave her our ticket for our order which she brought to us. They are opened 24 hours so you can stop by after a night of going out for a tasty treat!

We then made our way to Mercado de San Juan, where they sold snacks, drinks and tapas. When we learned that vermouth was a popular drink in Spain, we were a little skeptical because the only time we ever have vermouth is in cocktails and it’s not exactly our go-to choice when we think about drinking something on the rocks. However when we tried a glass of sweet vermouth here we loved it! It tasted a little bitter with hints of cinnamon and overall, delicious!

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On our way to our food tour, we stopped to admire the Royal Palace of Madrid.

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During our Madrid Tapas food tour , we tried many types of Iberico Ham from Mercado Jamon Iberico. We also learned that Spain is the largest producer of olive oil, even more than Italy! The olive oils we tried were so rich and flavorful.

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Our next stop was La Cruzada, where they were known for their “Cocido Madrileño,” which is a stew with chickpeas, vegetables and meats. It comes with a little cup of broth that the stew was made in and was so delicious!

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Next stop was La Conservera Delistore & Tapas where we had canned scallops, clams, and sardines. At first I was a little confused why we were eating canned seafood at what seems like a pretty nice place. However, after trying all of these, the quality of the seafood was so good that we could never look at canned goods the same way! Our favorite was the scallops and we surprisingly liked the sardines although we don’t usually eat it on a regular basis. We had a nice pairing with some delicious Verdejo, a popular white white produced in Spain and vermouth (another glass after we discovered how much we loved it!)

On our way back to our Airbnb, we popped inside a cozy bar named la misa de 8:00 for a quick drink. It had a pretty chill vibe and was pretty packed!

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Day 2

We headed got ready for our day tour to Toledo and Segovia, which we booked through Viator. When we arrived in Toledo, the backdrop was absolutely stunning!

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We were taken back by the beautiful Gothic-style Toledo Cathedral!

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We were sad to leave the beautiful historic city of Toledo but it was time to move onto our next stop.. Segovia!

One of the highlights of our time in Segovia was the Alcázar of Segovia, which is said to inspire Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World.

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The ancient Roman Aqueduct of Segovia was definitely the most noticeable sight when we arrived. We were surprised at how well preserved it was!

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When we came across the Cathedral of Segovia, we were so in awe by the stunning Gothic-style church that almost looks fake!

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We stopped by for lunch at El secreto de San Clemente

“La granja” big bean soup was my favorite, it had big white beans in a flavorful broth.

We also had their famous roasted suckling pig and broken eggs with fried potatoes and chorizo (chistorra). Everything was delicious!

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There was also a pretty view looking out to the old town!

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After our tour, we went to Taberna el Sur for dinner. This is one of our favorite places in Madrid. It is small and crowded but luckily we were able to grab two seats at the bar. The prices are affordable and the food is delicious. I think the best things we had were the Patatas Bravas (the sauce and the crispiest of the potatoes really came together so well!) and the most tasty Musaka I’ve ever had!!

Day 3

There are so many great museums in Madrid, if only we had enough time! We decided we would go to at least one, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

For breakfast, we went to a cozy cafe near the museum called La libre . It had great vegetarian options and I had the Storni, which was a sandwich smoked tofu with crushed tomatoes and garlic topped with olive oil and oregano (YUM). Alan isn’t a big fan of tomatoes but there is just something about the tomatoes here in Spain that has converted him to team tomatoes!

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The museum was MASSIVE and filled with beautiful artwork. We admit we are not well versed in the arts but definitely appreciated the unique talents of all the artists featured. Of course, we saw a few Picasso pieces, which got us hyped for our Picasso Museum stop in Barcelona in a few days!

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We then ate at the oldest restaurant in the world, Restaurante botin which was founded in 1725! I made a reservation through their website and we were able to sit downstairs in the cave which was a really cool experience!

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We had the delicious suckling pig and scrambled eggs with black sausage and potatoes and green beans with iberian ham.

Everywhere we go, we are always chasing for great views of the city so when we heard about a beautiful rooftop bar that had gorgeous views of Madrid, we had to go! The views at Azotea del Circulo did not disappoint us and the entrance fee is only 4 EUROs!

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It was nice to see that Madrid had so much greenery in the heart of the city! We strolled through El Retiro Park where we admired the pretty Palacio de Cristal and lake. It was a great day to walk around the park, surrounded by trees and breathe in the fresh air.

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We also stumbled upon the beautiful Rosaleda rose garden which was a pleasant surprise!

We walked by the the cat cafe, La Gatoteca and couldn’t help ourselves. We had to go in to see the kitties! We have two cats at home and really missed them so this was our pitstop to play with cats.

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We then went to Juana la loca Pinxto bar to get some small snacks (pinxtos)! We honestly picked this place because of its name Juana la loca (Joanna the crazy) so we had to try it! Everything was so tasty, we had the spanish tortilla, smoked salmon, wild mushroom black truffle with egg yolk, and oxtail fajita. Our favorite was the spanish tortilla!

Day 4

We went to Barcelona for a few days and returned back to Madrid for another night before heading back home. We stopped by a Chinese restaurant named Ni Hao (Alan wanted to try the Chinese food in Spain) and was pretty impressed!

We then walked to the Temple of Debod. According to Madrid’s Tourism website, it is an Egyptian temple dating back to the 2nd century BC, transported to Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montaña Park. The temple was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods following the construction of the great Aswan Dam.

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Before leaving Madrid, we had to watch a Flamenco show!! We bought tickets for a show at the Teatro Flamenco Madrid. The passion and talent of all the singers, dancers, and musicians was breathtaking! It definitely was nothing like we have ever seen, and highly recommend it for someone visiting Madrid.

After the show, we went to the Platea food hall which was a unique experience. There was a stage where singers and musicians were performing and a food market around the perimeter. It is multi-level, one level is a fine dining restaurant the other level was the food court. We order a few drinks and tapas and hung out and watched the performance. We later found out it used to be a theater, which explains the set up of the food hall. We were listening to live music and drinking and eating, it is certainly a great place to hang out!

We then went out for one more drink at Madklyn (a combo of Madrid and Brooklyn) cause of course I had check this out! It was a very cool vibe the wine was 2 euros each and the cocktails were 6 Euros.

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Madrid is one of our favorite places to visit, we loved the chill vibe, friendly people, and lively nightlife EVERY night! We would definitely come back and hope everyone gets a chance to visit this great city!

Happy travels,

Joanna +Alan

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