Last weekend, I finally went to visit my best friend in Madrid. She has lived there for two years and this was the first opportunity I’ve had to visit her, and brush up on my GCSE Spanish skills in the Spanish capital.
The evening I arrived, we headed out for some late night food, in the form of pinchos. These are very similar to tapas – the main difference being that pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. The first pincho I had was a chicken and ham…thing on bread. It was good. We drank wine. I liked Madrid already! Next we wandered to a ‘foodie’ street full of little bars serving food. We had croquetas de jamón – they have a crispy outside, and are filled with thick, creamy béchamal cheese and tiny pieces of ham. I don’t really eat ham, and I’m not too mad on any cheese that isn’t cheddar or Red Leicester, but I was pleasantly surprised. These things are DELICIOUS! This kind of ‘finger food’ makes the perfect side to drinks and catch-ups with friends. You’re not focussed on eating a huge meal but you’re also not thinking about your hungry tummy.
My first day in Madrid was a Friday and my friend had to go to work, so she messaged me some ideas of places I could wander from the apartment to. I headed out bright and early and all the shops and cafés were opening around me – a lovely time of day to discover a new city! First I headed to Plaza Mayor, the famous square in the centre of Madrid. It was still pretty quiet as it was relatively early, and with blue skies I got some lovely pictures.
I wandered on to Puerta del Sol, another busy square.
I continued on, weaving through back streets, past cafés and little shops. I found the Opera House, and behind that, the Royal Palace. It was beautiful! It was already pretty busy so I’m glad I got there quite early and missed the hoards of tourists!
I enjoyed some sunshine and sat and read my book for a while in the gardens. Eventually it got a little chilly, and I got a little hungry so I continued on my way on a quest to find some Spanish food for breakfast (no Starbucks for this tourist!).
I had read about a food market online, and found it right next to Plaza Mayor. The prices were perhaps a little higher than in the neighbourhood where my friend lives (La Latina), but it wasn’t extortionate by any means and the atmosphere was lovely.
I browsed for AGES, taking in all the delicacies, colours and smells. There was fresh fruits and juices, fresh breads and bakery, fresh meats, fresh fish, exotic seafood, coffee, cocktails…in fact almost anything you may want! I treated myself first to tortilla de patatas, then to torrijas. The tortillas in Madrid are just delicious. We would call them a potato omelette, but here they have a sweet flavour created by caramelised onions. Beaut! And torrijas are apparently an Easter dish (my friend hasn’t ever tried one) – it’s a little like bread and butter pudding, but very, very sweet. I had torrijas con leche, so it was soaked in milk as well as sugar and cinnamon. It was good, but I had to save half for later!
At this point, I slowly made my way back to the apartment for a chilled out couple of hours before my friend got home from work. Once she did, we headed out once again. She pointed out sights as we walked to the Caixa Forum, a museum which is currently hosting the Pixar Exhibition. They had models and original drawings from all the famous Pixar films, including Toy Story, Up, and Finding Nemo. It was horribly crowded which wasn’t much fun, but the actual exhibition was really cool. At the end there was a small cinema screen showing the Pixar ‘shorts’ that play before the feature films, including shorts from the 1980’s! Unfortunately we found out you weren’t allowed to take pictures, but this was after I’d taken a couple!
We walked past loads of old and historic buildings on our way back home so I snapped a couple of pictures of them too!
That evening, we went for nachos before going out for drinks with my friends’ flatmate too. As dinner in Spain is normally enjoyed from around 9pm, drinks and nights out don’t begin ’til pretty late and our night was no exception!
The next day, after a long lie-in, we ventured out once more! We stopped for coffee in a beautiful little square lined with cafés, then continued into the centre for some shopping (or window shopping for me!). Next my friend took me through some neighbourhoods and we eventually ended up at another mercado – Mercado San Anton. We looked around and stopped for a beer out on the deck.
One of the things on my ‘Madrid To-Do List’ was eat churros, so I was taken to ‘the best place in town’ – Café Comercial. We ordered chocolate con churros and soon a cup of hot chocolate appeared (the thickest hot chocolate I have ever had – but bitter enough that you could ‘drink’ lots!) and some delicious churros. Now I don’t have much to compare it too, but it was pretty darn good!
We headed back to the apartment for dinner and to get ready for a proper night out on the town! We started pre-drinking at 11.30pm and headed to a bar at 2am (how are people expected to go to work the next day?!). We eventually ended up at a super club, Kapital, boasting SEVEN floors. The cover charge was RIDICULOUS (€22) but fortunately included a free drink. We headed straight to the R&B floor with a view out onto the main dance floor below. It was packed and very, very fun! This is, unfortunately, where my pictures end though. Both my friend and I had our phones stolen in the club – I’m going to guess by very experienced pick-pocketers – and we ended up in the police station filing reports at 7am. Not the best end to the night but despite that, I still had an excellent trip! If you plan on visiting Madrid, or Barcelona, make sure you keep a really close eye on your belongings!
And with that, I say “Adios” and “Ciao” Madrid!