For me, this is the summer of adventure, exploring and sightseeing! At the start of May, I packed my bags and headed off to Europe for the next few months. My trip began in Spain where the first stop was the beautiful, busy, and soccer obsessed city of Madrid.
A few things to know before you leave:
- Spain in a relaxed country, nothing happens to quickly. So be prepared for your food to take a while, for people to take their time, and for an overall slow pace.
- Tapas are EVERYWHERE! Don’t be alarmed if you only order a drink and food comes with it, that is the way things work. Drinks usually always come with either potato chips or tapas….and lots of them!
- Siesta is a real thing, and very little happens during it. In my experience shops, restaurants, markets (basically everything except for very touristy spots) close between 2-6pm. They eat dinner very late, around 9:30-10pm so be prepared to adapt to their eating routines because it is difficult to find places to eat any earlier than 9pm.
- In Madrid specifically, there is very little English spoken, understood, or even written, so you may want to have google translate on standby!
Where to stay:
Since this was the first stop on our long trip, we wanted to try something new and so we chose to use AirBnB instead of a hotel. It was an amazing experience, the place was lovely and right in the middle of all of the action of Madrid! If you can, find a place that is close to Parque del Retiro, Museo Naval de Madrid, Monumento a los Caidos por Espana and Fuente de Neptuno. The area is beautiful, incredibly safe and there is lots to see and do!
What to see:
There is lots to see in Madrid! We covered the whole city in three days, seeing as many sites as we could, while letting ourselves get lost in the city. A few of the sites that stood out the most were the Plaza de la Ameria, Monumento a Alfonso XII, Parque del Retiro and around Sol Station.
Where to eat:
San Miguel is a fun, colourful and exciting market! Filled with unique food options, including everything from sea urchin meat, to beautiful fruit displays, to a mozzarella bar as well as the most colourful and fresh mojitos you will ever taste!
Cafe & Te has a number of locations but it is a beautiful little spot for morning coffee and breakfast! Their smoothies are delicious and come in a number of flavours, as well as their coffee is superb.
Churreria Chocolateria Los Artesanos 1902 is an unbelievable treat! It is an experience all on its own, being a Churro bar that is run by the Oldest churros family in Spain. I had 4 delicious churros and was given a whole mug of warm liquid chocolate to dip them into, it was fantastic!
El Tigre is a tiny local spot near the centre of Madrid that serves huge tapas, excellent sangria and is off the regular paths for tourists, so is full of wonderful locals!
How to stay fit and healthy in Madrid:
This busy city is full of walkable sites and lots to explore. There are a number of huge parks, that have gorgeous fountains, architecture and seem to be where the people of Madrid keep fit. These spaces are full of runners, cyclists and we even saw our first Spanish fitness class being held in the park! As with every city, walk as much as you can, always have water in hand and go out of you way to explore those unique places that are off the normal path.