Last month I was lucky enough to have the chance to combine a business trip to Spain with a few days off to explore. Zee husband flew in as well and we got a great taste of Madrid and Barcelona. Amazing sights and delicious food! Loved it!
Favorites in Madrid:
- Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel
- The almost obnoxious grandeur of Palacio Real
- Chocolate and churros at Chocolateria de San Gines
- Watching the flamenco dancers at Villa Rosa
My trade show went very smooth, we reached our goals and the dinner event I had planned was a great success. Nothing like seeing a big project come together after you’ve worked hard on it for months. So with that load off my shoulders and all our equipment packed up, the fun began. 😀 We had stayed in a very convenient and nice hotel near Principe Pio train station and enjoyed the wealth of restaurant options there. The jamon iberico – amazing! The area was a great spot to explore the sights on the western part of Madrid’s center – although all of Madrid’s center was smaller and much more manageable by foot than I had anticipated. Huzzah!
Day 1 in Madrid we started with obligatory breakfast of café con leche and then walked to the Palacio Real. As a German I’ve seen my fair share of castles but this one really stood out in all its splendor. Definitely worth a visit. We loved seeing the extravagant rooms with their beautiful furniture and accent pieces, the armory and the original Stradivarius instruments of the former queen.
Hungry from that we headed over to the San Miguel food market and indulged in all sorts of tapas. When in Rome… We shared some black paella, bocadillos (sandwiches) with roasted peppers, caramelized onion and goat cheese, roast beef with brie, tortilla, pickled herring, olives and what seemed like two of Spain’s national drinks: Vermuth and Sangria. Everything was amazingly flavorful!
Fueled by our awesome lunch we then walked around downtown’s bustling streets including Placa Mayor and took the obligatory photo with the bear and strawberry tree statue at Puerta del Sol; one of the main places in downtown Madrid. Commercialization has taken its toll on that square, it’s now called Vodafone Sol. I suppose that’s similar to Time’s Square but just imagine we’d have the “Palmolive Golden Gate Bridge” or “Monsanto National Mall”. Just a little sad and odd.
From there we moved our bags to our new hotel, which was more towards the east part of downtown, less conducive to trade showing but better for sight seeing. It has to be noted that we had the weirdest bathroom door ever. It was frosted glass and didn’t shut properly. Even as a married couple… not sure what the purpose of that door was. As a reward for hauling our stuff across town we sat down at St. Gines Chocolate for hot chocolate and churros. I would say this was the Madrid equivalent of New Orleans’s Café du Monde’s beignets. The stuff was gooood! The churrors not too greasy and the hot chocolate rich but not overly sweet. Perfect for the cold weather. I was so full that for dinner we just sat down at a bistro next to our hotel with a salad and a few tapas for Michael. When in Rome…
Day 2 started with a good breakfast at the hotel (thank you half price deal for Expedia+ members). Café con leche of course was part of it but also good cold cuts (oh how I miss those in the US) and the usual shabang that you get at hotel breakfasts. Thank heavens we had a lot because we spent quite some time exploring the Reina Sofia Art Museum that morning. Always amazes me how something like Salvador Dali’s amazing, ambiguous pieces can hang next to a black square on canvas. Oh modern art! Definitely neat to see Guernica after having heard so much about it and the sad part of Spain’s history.
Our guide book had recommended a little pub, El Brilliante, next to the museum for their calamari sandwiches and they were indeed pretty darn tasty. After that a stroll through the Retiro Park to admire the pretty Crystal Palace with its little waterfall grotto and the free art exhibit we stumbled upon in one of the other buildings of the park. I love exploring!
We rested a bit and then headed out to a flamenco show in downtown Madrid at Villa Rosa. I had been somewhat worried that it would be just a tourist trap with a cheesy show but the performers were exceptional. The amount of speed with which their feet flew over the stage was incredible and I love listening to their rhythms. Definitely a highlight of the trip and a great way to spend our last day in town before heading to Barcelona.
If you stumbled on this while searching for a two day itinerary for Madrid consider pinning this image of save it to your smartphone for when you go.