For those who have been following my posts, you’d know how excited I was for my girly weekend away to Madrid. It had been in the planning for a while and I was so glad the day finally came to fly to sunny Spain. We flew from London Luton with Easyjet and arrived in Madrid at 9am. We had googled our route to our apartment for the weekend- Woo Travelling Plaza near Principe Pio and the metro & over ground both can take us there. The best value tickets are the 10 use passes which can be used across the transport system. One pass can be used up to 10 times so 3 people can tap the card and use 3 journeys rather than needing 3 cards.
After google maps took us here, there and everywhere- we finally found Woo Travelling Plaza. It’s budget friendly apartments which are done to a very nice standard. For the 4 of us we had chosen the 6/8 people apartment as we wanted the space to relax and chill. It was set up with a open plan sitting room/ dining room and 2 bunk beds which are separated from the main room by a full length curtain. It also had a double bedroom and a large bathroom. The kitchen was fully equipped and even came with a coffee machine and pods. The location is brilliant for the price. It’s a 10 minute stroll to the main street Gran Via and about a 20 minutes’ walk to the Palace and Cathedral.
Food glorious food!
We freshened up and headed straight out, it was nearly 12 and we had walked about 3 minutes and came across a corner bar/restaurant, we decided to stop and have a quick drink. A very generous drink later we needed some tapas which came with another thirst quencher! After few small dishes we made our way towards the palace -or so we thought! The Spanish directions given by the nice waiter weren’t the clearest and we were slightly tipsy so ended up on Via Sol, we then had to do a u-turn. We found the right path and enjoyed the views of the palace and the street performers. There are mimes, statue people, artists, musicians etc ,It made for a lovely walk. After passing the palace gardens you get to see the Cathedral as they mirror each other. It is beautiful! We didn’t venture into either but as it was so close we planned on coming back the next day. Instead we headed for Mercado San Ildefonso, a food hall we had heard lots about and as the tapas had just about touched our sides our bellies were rumbling. It became a trend that google maps would just lead us in the wrong direction, but we eventually found it. We had expected it to be more open but it was a large converted building which housed around 70 different food stalls inside. We had a wonder first and just took in all the sights and smells. The place is heaving with people and each stall displays food in the most beautiful way it was hard narrowing down what we were going to eat! We ended up with a traditional seafood Paella, the famous fried squid baguette, churros and Sangria’s.
Now as it was a Saturday and we were only here for a short trip we decided that we just had to make the most of our time , and by that the girls meant clubbing! But after all the food we were flagging and needing a nap. we made our way back to the apartment for what was supposed to be a quick nap ( which turned out to be a 2 hour snooze…)
By the time we left for dinner it was nearly 10pm. We had chosen Oven Atocha, a pizza restaurant near the club, to our surprise the restaurant was in full swing at 10.30 and we weren’t the only new arrivals for dinner. The food and service were brilliant, a little too good maybe as we had eaten way too much. The plan now was to go to the Teatro Kapital Club- one of Madrid’s largest clubs spread over 4 floors and 7 rooms. We had downloaded vouchers which saved us money on tickets and also gave us free drink vouchers. Feeling good we headed into the main room…. it was pretty empty! It had gone past midnight but not many people were out. We got some drinks, people watched and checked out the other floors. The liveliest room was the Spanish room, the music was great and everyone had all gathered here.We flitted between the main room and Spanish room for the rest of the time. The main room had a large screen backdrop which linked to the dj- it was mesmerizing, along with the smoke machines, strobe lights and this crazy air blower it really put on a show.We called it a night at 3am just as the place was getting busy! If you want to party in Madrid start late and stay out till the early hours!
On Sundays there is a famous large flea market – El Rasto which is located along Plaza De Cascorro and surrounding streets. It sells everything from Bric and Brac, antiques, clothes,shoes and food. We spent our morning looking for bargains and eating empanadas. My steal buys were some beautiful crystals and a toy electric guitar I had picked up for Dylan.
As we were over during the World Cup we really wanted to catch Spain playing. Today it was Spain V Russia. We tried to ask for pubs and bars where locals would be watching it but with the language barrier no one seemed to understand our request. Someone finally put it out in the direction of Ronda’s bar, he told us this is where the locals will be watching it, perfect we thought we finally found a small bar restaurant and it wasn’t what we were expecting! We asked if there were going to show the match and he pointed towards the tiny TV above the gambling machine and set us a table in front of the screen. We felt bad for just leaving so we ordered some food and drinks. The paella was delicious it was fresh and flavorful and almost made the one from the food hall seem bad we had some delicious croquettes and beers and started Googling where else we could go. We found a bar and we caught an uber to our next stop. This was a traditional Irish pub with dark wood finishing and it look gloomy inside compared to the beautiful day it was outside but it had multiple screens and was filling up fast with people wanting to watch the match. Spain lost on penalties unfortunately.
We finished our drinks and made our way to our free tapas tour. I try to find free tours, we did one in Berlin and I’ve been hooked ever since. The premise is simple; go on a tour with a knowledgeable local who will tell you all about the sites and at the end of the tour tip the guide what you thought that was worth or what you can afford. In Madrid I had pre-booked the Tapas tour with Strawberry Tours. Firstly it was a tour based around food and drink- who doesn’t love that and 2 it was free. We headed to the meeting point at Plaza Isabel II by the Opera Metro Station and met guide Jamie and the rest of our group. There was 10 of us this evening. Our first stop was at La Taberna De Ramales for pinta’s- canape type bites served with beer and wine some places often serve these bites for free when you’re drinking others charge a nominal amount for them. this place had won an award for the traditional tuna pinta’s. The deal with these tours was that we could try food and drink discounted on the trip or have extras for free so here we chose a few sides for 5 euros and got potatoes with chorizo for free. Our next stop was to have the famous Iberico jamon, it was sliced by a skilled carver there in front of us and served with olive bread, tomato bruschetta and crackers paired with the Spanish wine, it was bliss! We carried on to have cheese and wine at the other place. Our group was great and diverse so it was really interesting meeting and chatting to everyone over food and drinks. Our final stop was for traditional cider and croquettes, by now we are all very very merry and definitely having a good time I was sad that the tour was nearly over and a few of us wanted to continue the night, Jamie had recommended where to go as it was pride week a lot of the places had special promos and performances on, I excitedly told the girls about the plan but they quickly squashed that idea as we had an early start the next day and as it was already late I reluctantly got into the uber. I woke feeling groggy and kinda glad that the girls had persuaded me out of a night out on the town.
I was excited about the day ahead it was one of the things I had most researched. We will be going to a small town at just outside of Madrid famed for its aqueduct and views it was also known for the suckling pig dish. We would be going to Segovia by train, from Madrid it’s pretty straightforward. The straight train from Chamartin you can book the trains in advance which would be cheaper but as we had left it so late we thought we would just buy them on the day. We left out on time but the Madrid trains were running like the London Underground that day and what should have been no more than a 35 minute train journey took over an hour! We ended up going all the way to Chamartin but we got there at 10.00 and the train was for 10.01 and we knew we wouldn’t be able to buy tickets and find the right platform in time so felt deflated, what would we do now? we had planned for the day in Segovia and now we’re stuck at the station doing nothing. We would visit the cathedral and the Museum and also see the palace in detail. Our plan wasn’t originally to visit the palace but now that we had the time…..
The New Plan
Our first stop was Cathedral De La Almudena and on the route we passed the sign for the cathedral Tombs just behind( Cripta De La Catedral) you follow the sloping Street down and found this beautiful underground church it was serene and beautiful, we then went into the main cathedral and its vast size beautiful architecture and artwork are stunning we spent a few minutes here all the sites before we made our way to the Royal Palace of Madrid.
We really enjoyed our Palace tour, it took around an hour and a half and we got to have a peek inside one of the most beautifully decorated palaces I’ve ever seen the intricately detailed rooms are amazingly stunning and each room has its own style. After the tour we stopped for a quick bite to eat and decided that today would be the day that we went inside the Prado Museum! The museum offers free entry after 6pm on most days but you have to queue to get in. Today surprisingly the queue was not as long as yesterday (200m) and it was moving quickly before we knew it we were inside this huge Museum. The artwork is vast and varied and I found myself spending a lot of time at the Last Supper painting. It is done beautifully and I think this is the closest you can get to it.
Aperol Spritz Time
We left the Prado feeling good we had managed to do all three of the major sites today and we wouldn’t have to rush them tomorrow it was early evening and we wondered what to do. We had read about a bar in a different district that sounded interesting so we headed there. We turned up the address and though google maps had us lost again, this was not what we were expecting. The Aperol Spritz bar sign was there but at the front of the building but the front two shops were not related and then we walked through to see a sign for a gym there was another sign pointing upwards just saying ‘bar’ not expecting much we arrived on the terrace and it was amazing! Lashes of orange and white and baby blue greeted us with a very trendy young vibe – this is definitely a must-see in Madrid! We got our table and ordered a shisha, the bar was buzzing it was busy and the sun was just setting and it was a great place to be as the bar was named Aperol Spritz I just had to order myself one, what a refreshing way to start off our evening watching the sunset over the buildings. We had a lovely evening laughing and sipping on delicious drinks until the darkness was over us and the fairy lights gleamed. We headed back to our apartment to pack our bags as tomorrow would be our last day in this fab city.
Our final day
We spent our last morning close to the apartment, behind us was the famous Egyptian temple site that we had to visit before we left. Located close to Gran Via, Temple Debod was originally based in Egypt before relocating to Madrid in 1960 as part of a UNESCO site saving exercise. It was odd seeing this beautiful temple in the middle of a park in Madrid’s city center but lovely nonetheless. We stopped by Gingko sky bar to have a farewell drink and were blown away! The bar is set atop hotel VP Plaza España Design hotel and its truly stunning. The dining area is elegant and fresh and the outdoor rooftop area is a peice of modern heaven. We chose some inventive cocktails and sat back and enjoyed the views of Madrid below. It was time for us to be leaving this vibrant city but we had a blast over the last few days.