First things first, Madrid is absolutely gorgeous. I had a wonderful time and I want to share with you some great spots to check out if you find yourself in that neighborhood.
What to see:
One of our first stops (after churros, but more on that later) was Catedral de la Almudena. It is a Baroque Catholic cathedral known for its colorful chapels and let me tell you it is drop dead gorgeous. The whole thing was spectacular. The ceilings, the patterns, the stained glass windows…stunning. I missed out on going to the top, but don’t let that happen to you! All you have to do is pay to get into the museum and then you can go up to the top and get a fantastic view of the palace.
Speaking of the palace right next door to the cathedral is the Royal Palace of Madrid and it is a pretty cool place. It is full of impressive chandeliers, statues, art, and antiques. It was fun to think back to seeing Versailles as I wandered through the palace and lamented the fact that I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the rooms.
Palacio de Cristal was beautiful. I got there at sunset so it was already closed for the day but it was fun to meet the ducks in the nearby pond and walk around Retrio Park.
If you want to check out some art the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has some amazing pieces and makes for a fun afternoon.
Where to eat:
Now onto the good stuff – remember those churros I mentioned? Churros con chocolate to be exact. The churros are crispy, but not too sweet, served with a cup of hot, thick, pudding-like chocolate. Heaven. If you look it up, THE place to get these in Madrid is Chocolateria San Gines. I did verify a couple of times that the place is legit (and so cute inside!). Be prepared for a little bit of a line, but these guys are pros and open 24 hours…so it can be churro time all the time!
If your sweet tooth has not been satisfied by churros very close by is an amazing bakery – La Mallorquina. It is almost impossible to walk by and not go in and buy something- so just say yes!If you are in the mood for something savory or maybe a glass of cava head over to San Miguel Market. They have a huge variety of tapas, wines, and jamon. Basically they specialize in all things amazing. Another prepared food type market to check out if you want something a little more authentic and with less tourists is the San Fernando Market. It has a more local feel and is a great place to grab and drink and a bite.
If you do some research you will find that they make some stellar gin and tonics in Spain. What makes a Spanish gin and tonic so special? I’m going to go with size, but garnish and lots of ice also play a factor. We had some amazing gin and tonics (and meals) at Ten Con Ten. I am now determined to track down some glasses like this for my own Spanish gin & tonic redo. Shopping:
If Japan taught me one thing it is to make sure you check out department stores because they are amazing (at least in Japan and Spain). We stayed right by El Corte Inglés which has an amazing view of Madrid from its 9th floor. It is also a great place to get a bite to eat, grab a coffee, or buy some souvenirs. Spain has really nailed this whole shopping experience thing – people want to go there and hang out. Madrid is lovely. Just walking around and looking up at the amazing architecture could take up a day. The person who had the idea to uplight all the buildings…pure genius.