A storm hit Spain this weekend, so mine and my housemate’s weekend in Madrid was slightly rainier and windier than we first planned. Turns out, though, that Madrid has more than a few things to keep you entertained in weather that makes you really not want to go outside. A lot of this did involve food, as it always does with me, so I thought I would write a completely separate post on that later on this week. A sort of gluten free guide to amazing food in Madrid (I will work on the title).
For now then, I hope you enjoy this little overview and travel diary of another great Spanish weekend away.
We arrived late Friday afternoon (literally late, because our flight was delayed and our bags took forever. Thanks Iberia), and headed straight to our Airbnb, which was located in Lavapiés. I had never visited Madrid before, so I have no real knowledge on any other parts of the city, but I would definitely recommend Lavapiés if you are looking for a cool place to stay. Everywhere you look there’s amazing cafes, bars and restaurants. It was also really affordable and so close to a lot of the main attractions. We chose well.
After a quick change, we headed straight out in search of food. I had a few restaurants that I wanted to try, mainly because they were supposed to offer some excellent gluten free options, but it wasn’t quite dinner time and so instead we made a beeline for the San Miguel Market, with the intention of snacking and drinking until a more acceptable dinner time.
The San Miguel Market was recommended to us by my housemate’s Dad (thank you Mike!), and I can definitely see why. If you’re a foodie, or even just fancy a drink, you absolutely have to give it a try. On a Friday evening the market was pretty busy, but it’s big enough for this not to be a problem, and we could still wander around comfortably.
The market is based in a huge, covered iron structure and is absolutely full to the brim of busy market stalls offering every cuisine you could think of. There is without doubt something for everyone, including white wine sangria, which might just be my new favourite drink. We decided to go for a couple of pre-dinner snacks from a stall selling Japanese cuisine; everything containing gluten was labeled, which made it so easy for me to choose something delicious and I’m pretty sure I will be dreaming about the San Miguel Market for a while.
As I mentioned, Madrid was seriously rainy, so the following morning we were specifically looking for things we could do inside. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia seemed like a pretty obvious choice and also did not disappoint. Now, I am not the biggest art fan, I struggle to find meaning in some of it and there were definitely some exhibits that I just did not get. But, that being said, others were so interesting and held a lot of Spanish history that really intrigued me.
Also, entry to the Reina Sofia is free for students under 25 so it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are trying to be kind to your bank account, and even if you’re not sure that it’s going to be your kind of thing!
When the sun finally made an appearance, we were straight to Parque del Retiro, which is pretty close to the Reina Sofia and absolutely huge. It was slightly strange to see such an expanse of greenery (some of which was flooded, bloody rain) in the middle of a city, but sitting in the albeit temporary sun with a drink, next to the lake, was a welcome change to all the walking that we had been doing.
The Crystal Palace, which is more or less in the centre of the park, is also worth a look as it is beautiful. It was just a shame that the weather had obviously caused the roof to leak – the floor inside was littered with buckets catching the drips!
Can you really visit a city without checking out the shops? We can’t, although that may have something to do with the fact that we live kind of in the middle of nowhere, with no shops in sight.
Gran Vía is Madrid’s main shopping street; it’s about a mile long and littered with some really incredible brands. Surprisingly, neither of us came away with any major purchases, but it’s always worth a look, right?
On our final morning we decided to wander past the Museo Nacional del Prado (literally National Museum of the Meadow), which is one of the most popular sights in Madrid. This place is also free to students under 25, but unfortunately the queue snaked all the way down one side of the building, so there was no way we would have had time to get our tickets and look around before heading to the airport. Next time, though!
As silly as it may sound, Madrid is a much bigger city than I thought it was, and a lot of the things that we wanted to see were nowhere near each other, so it was difficult to fit everything in. I definitely want to make a second trip, maybe for a slightly longer amount of time, to really explore.
We are currently in the process of planning three trips to places that we have never been before, at the end of this month and the beginning of April. I won’t tell you where, yet, but keep an eye out for lots more travel posts from me. They’re becoming my new favourite!