This post is LOOOOOOONG overdue considering I left Madrid almost 3 months ago. I’ve become a slacker on the blog front since I came to Ireland. Partly because I am “working” as an au pair and my daily adventures aren’t nearly an amusing as some of my prior shenanigans (unless you enjoy hearing about a two year olds refusal to get dressed in the morning or my high score of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Wii). I have had some epic adventures in Ireland which I will post here shortly. It is a beautiful country with endless breathtaking sites (and copious amounts of that wet stuff that comes out of the sky).
Now back to my top experiences in Madrid. My time in Madrid was extremely hot and sweaty — compliments of the 90+ degree heat! Regardless of the make you want to melt temperatures, I did manage to get out and about and explore the city and surrounding areas.
Here are my Top 10 Experiences of my time in Madrid, Spain.
1. Tapas – What else do you do in Madrid when it’s scorching hot out and you pretty much melt within two minutes of being outside?? YOU EAT OF COURSE! There are so many awesome places to duck into, have a cold beer, and enjoy some lovely tapas. My favorite was a place where you could get a beer for 1 Euro and it came with a FREE snack (a piece of bread with topping).
2. Vino y cerveza – Wine and beer. Enjoy it. It’s cheap and delicious. One of my favorites: Summer Wine. I drank loads of this with my hosts! Get a bottle of red wine an mix it with carbonated lemon drink. Add some ice and voila!
3. Discotecka – My first weekend in town marked my host’s 30th birthday weekend so we went out on the town and ended up at a disco called The Palace in the city center.We ran into the promoter on the street and he gave us tickets to get in for free and also get our first drink FREE. Heck yea! As a traveler on a budget — I like FREE! We danced til after 4am — it was a blast!! And you will see some questionable characters out and about 🙂
4. Architecture – Just walking around Madrid is beautiful! There are so many amazing buildings to look at and admire. Get yourself a coffee and take a stroll. The city is really easy to navigate… take a map but don’t really use it. It’s an adventure to just be able to wander in a city you don’t know. Get lost and have fun!
5. Retiro Park – Crystal Palace – Ok so I must admit I really didn’t get the allure of this place when I first read about it online. However when you head there it is a fascinating structure to take pictures of. If you head inside you can take a seat in one of the rocking chairs and enjoy a book (they actually have books chained to each chair!). Take a walk around the park, pack a picnic, and enjoy this little sanctuary in the city.
6. San Gines Chocolate – Get ready for a sugar overload. Churros and chocolate. Divine. Be a fatty – you have my full permission! (The Chocolatería San Ginés is a café at Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, in central Madrid, in a passageway close to San Ginés church, west of the Puerta del Sol. It has served principally chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and churros) since 1894. Coffee and cakes are also available.)
7. Puerta del Sol – EXCELLENT people watching and a great starting point for your city walk. It is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year.
8.Daytime hooker watching – Grab a beer and sit at an outdoor table on Montera (off of Gran Via). I met a friend here and he pointed out that one of the ladies had made a move on him earlier in the day offering her “services”. We sat and drank some cold beers in the hot sun and watched as hookers relentlessly walked up to men in broad daylight trying to get a job! Ahhh so entertaining and wrong all at the same time.
9. Buying Beer out of a Bag from a stranger – One of the my first nights out in Madrid I came across a town square area that was packed with people just sitting around drinking beers on the street! Next I know I am getting offered to buy beer for 1 Euro out of a plastic bag this dude is toting around. I didn’t at the time because I found it rather odd but I realized it was kind of a “thing” in and around the city centre — the services came in rather handy another night!
10. El Camino de Santiago – ok this is cheating a bit because it is not in (or even near) Madrid but it was one of my AWESOME experiences during my time there. My hosts and I trekked 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) over a 4 day period. You sleep in the most random housing you can find (hostels, guest houses etc…) and spend yours days walking… and walking… and walking. I was quite surprised by how busy the trail was! It is a pilgrimage with Christian roots – if you want to read more about it visit – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago