It’s been several months since I have used my passport for travel and I am feeling the pent up frustration an ACL infection delivered requiring a mandatory sit still for 3 months! No one puts baby in the corner….. All in all, it’s great to be packing my bag to be airborne again, out of the United States.
This Memorial Day trip has me headed to Croatia. However Croatia is notoriously hard to get to on a budget. I did score a $404 round trip ticket to Madrid as the starting point so basically there is a lone day in Madrid to shake off a little jet lag before soldering on.
Madrid which is a very different type of European city to visit. Madrid has one of the most famous museums but as a whole it does not have the iconic sights most European cities claim such as an Eiffel tower, St. Peters Basilica, or a London Eye to visit. There are no canals to wander across or gondolas serenading you.
To me, on such a short itinerary, spending a large portion of travel time visiting the Prado Museum does not top my list of things to delve into in Madrid. I prefer to start with a traditional breakfast of churros with chocolate along with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice (zumo de naranja natural), or pastries with coffee on arrival at La Mallorquina (try the Napolitana con chocolate)
or maybe some tomato toast (tosta con tomate, don’t knock it till ya try it!)…. Or, how about a few stops here and there to try all three?
Assuming the hotel room is not ready on arrival, I would next suggest walking through some awesome barrios (neighborhoods), pop in here and there to different shops, while maybe stopping to have a small sandwich with jamon or small piece (pincho) of exquisite tortilla española o tortilla de patatas ?
So, assuming no hunger again due to jet lag, just know that lunch is actually the largest meal of the day for Madrilenos (people of Madrid). Luckily, lunch is usually served from 2-5pm so stomachs can recover from small bites here and there. This is great time to find a spot that offers a good bottle of wine to wile the time away like at Pinkleton wine at the Mercado de San Miguel with tapas.
Or, more Jamon…
Afterwards, I suggest staying up and walking to the Retiro Park or Gran Via to walk off some of the lunch. The Retiro Park is similar to the Luxemburg gardens. It has a lake, crystal palace, fountains and expanses of greenery shading you from the summer heat. At the Gran Via, you can shop Spanish logos brands such as Bimba y Lola, Bogdar, Pull & Bear, Mango, Uterqüe, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti and Desigual.
or just go back near the hotel or to the Mercado de San Miguel where its best to be friendly with the Real Madrid fans who are all about the Championship League game tonight!