Underestimating walking a few miles in a new city is always a fun way to start getting to know a new place. A map doesn’t always show the elevation change, right? I hope the guy who let is into the super modern studio wasn’t totally offended by how much I was sweating. He left quickly partially because there wasn’t much to talk about, partially because he didn’t really speak English [or because I smelled?]. This apartment was a super modern studio. The bathroom was crazy. The entire thing was the shower. A small glass wall kind of contained the water from the dual shower heads. There was a floor squeegee. It was awesome, if a bit messy. The location was [again] really great for getting on the metro or walking to the more touristy parts of the city.
Madrid is huge. I wasn’t expecting that at all. We stayed right off Calle Gran Via which is a wide street line with huge buildings, mostly full of chain restaurants, shops, and theaters. It was a nice change of pace from the smaller, sleepier cities we’d already been in. It’s very metropolitan, and there seems to be a museum or a square on every other block. It felt like it could accommodate a lot of tourists without it feeling overwhelming. When you come across a park, it’s a stark contrast from the looming buildings. A breath of fresh air. Literally. With big cities comes more begging and homelessness than you see in the smaller ones, but it’s still not nearly as bad as Portland or San Francisco.
an obscene a lot of time at the Museo del Jamon over several days. When I see legs of cured meat hanging in the all over the place, it is hard to tear myself away. It didn’t hurt that a small beer with random ham snacks were 1.20€. A plate of mixed ham and cheese? 4.00€. It was so awesome. Speaking of ham snacks, have you ever had ham flavored Ruffles potato chips? I’m not one for processed junk food but my god they’re good. We went through at least two bags. I meant to bring some home, but forgot. They wouldn’t have made it home anyway, let’s be honest. At one point we splurged on some Ethiopian food. It wasn’t exactly the cheapest meal by Euro conversion standards, but I was craving vegetables and that’s an easy and delicious way to get some.
Mercado de San Miguel was easily my favorite place in the city. Can I move in? It’s a market that functions more like mini restaurants than a place to get your groceries. Each vendor sells mostly tapas-sized goodies, but you can buy bigger versions if you want to wait. There are a ton of wine, beer, and cocktail vendors to round out the experience in the evening. My favorites included the skewered olives with meats, fish and cheese, the chunks of marinated octopus on little toasts, and a huge ball of delicious burrata on toast with ham and light drizzle olive oil. That beautiful ball of cheese made my
Toma Cafe was a little slice of home. It was a legit coffee shop with beards, freshly roasted beans, and latte art. Sometimes that’s just what I want in a sea of cheap espresso. Spain has spoiled with the cortado, which is basically a mini cappuccino. Toma’s was definitely the favorite. A fresh carrot cake with a dense lemony frosting was the breakfast of champions. If I had to pick, it’s probably closest to Courier Coffee at home [and I just realized even their webpages are similar...].
Did you know that there is an Egyptian temple that sits in the heart of Madrid? It was relocated from Egypt as a thank you for helping them restore another one. We first went at night because the view from the surrounding park is a great one of the city. There is a little museum in middle of it if you go during the day.
True to form, we made another trip to a football stadium. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid plays there, and is considered one of the best teams in the world, and they make sure you know it. I’ve never seen a museum so full of itself. I had no idea that was even possible. The stadium is huge, holding over 80,000 fans. It’s a self-guided tour and there is a lot to see. You’ll easily spend a few hours with the multimedia museum spread throughout the tour. At the end, there is a mock up of the new stadium they’re going to build. It’s going to revolutionize the viewing and game-day experiences. Attached shopping mall and hotel? 360° television monitors in the stadium? So crazy.
By our last day in Madrid, we realized we stayed a day too long [we could have used that in Sintra!]. We just didn’t find enough to keep our attention, and we spent a good part of the last day sitting in the apartment. It allowed us to get some sleep since we had another early train to Barcelona, the last part of the trip.