We started our 2-week European adventure in the capital city of Madrid. While I had passed through the city many times, this was actually my first time spending time and visiting the city.
We choose the Eurostars Plaza Mayor as our base for this trip. This was a great location to visit the key sites we wanted to see on this first trip to Madrid. The hotel was comfortable and clean, and a decent breakfast buffet. Room was very spacious. Staff was accommodating and friendly.
Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and the Cathedral Almudena were among our first stops.
The food options were overwhelming. On the recommendation of some locals, we tried to stay away from the tourist traps especially around Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. One place we couldn’t resist visiting was Mercado de San Miguel. When in Spain, we Tapas!!
We had seen Flamenco in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but never in Spain. We were very excited to be able to experience flamenco music in Madrid. We weren’t disappointed with our choice of venue. We visited Tablao Las Carboneras. It was an amazing evening watching the artists’ passion on stage. The guitar player was wonderful; what talent. Enjoyed the evening so much. I would recommend booking ahead. We booked at the recommendation of Spain Revealed; James and Yoli are local tour guides. They offer group tours, a great local guide available online , and they also host a YouTube channel. Check them out.
Like many older European cities, Madrid is a city of streets and alleys you can lose yourself. At every turn you see the wonderful older architecture, the small squares and the different neighborhoods. We only got lost once!
There are many museums and parks to explore, but with only 4 days in the city, we limited ourselves to visiting the Prado Museum. The museum has incredible display of sixteen century art. We did stop at Reina Sofia exhibit hall for a quick and free admission to a modern art exhibit. The rest of the time was spent at the Retiro Park and its many walkways, gardens and fountains.
Couldn’t leave Madrid without going to the oldest restaurant in the world. We had a wonderful lunch at Restaurant Botin. This restaurant has been in operation since 1725. Their most famous dish is the roasted suckling pig. We couldn’t resist and went with the day menu option. You know, when in Rome, yada yada… While the their most famous dish was amazing, I have to say what I really loved was their gazpacho. I would say it was the best I’ve ever had; the taste was incredible. Perfection! I really wanted to ask for the recipe.
Four days was just enough to know we want to return to this wonderful city and explore some more. For now, we say “hasta la proxima vez”. We are now heading to our second destination on our European adventure.
On the COVID-19 front: once you submit your vaccination information to the Spanish Health Department and get the QR code 48 hours prior to arrival in the country, it’s a breeze to go through the airport. Don’t let that stop you from traveling.