The first time I ever visited Europe was to Madrid for five days. It was a short trip but at the time I lived in New York so the flight wasn’t horrifically long. I stayed with friends in the center of town and upon my first day, I nearly got robbed (these two guys grabbed my makeup bag out of my backpack and when my friend told them in broken Spanish that it was just makeup, they left it behind). And for anyone who knows this story, I felt it would not do justice to curse them out in English as they walked away and the only thing I knew to say at that instant was “No bueno! No bueno!” This, much to my chagrin, has become one of my most memorable and embarrassing travel stories to date.
The first day nearly killed me as I struggled to adjust to the time difference. Luckily (as a lot of European homes have) the room had motorized black-out blinds so I took a three-hour nap to get adjusted before we headed out to dinner. Fortunately in Madrid, evening festivities don’t even really begin until 9pm or 10pm. Often you’ll see full families with small children at dinner or playing around in the streets at that hour. It’s definitely a city that wakes up at night so the importance of an afternoon siesta is duly noted!
Madrid has some of the most beautiful museums, in my opinion, as we frequented a few such as the Museo del Prado and the Reina Sofia, which at the time inhabited Picasso’s much-famed Guernica piece. One of my most favorite ways of getting to know a city is simply by foot. So, off we went.
We walked through the main square in the center of Madrid called Plaza Mayor. In this plaza, you’re surrounded by magnificent architecture which date back to the 1600’s and lovely frescoes where you can nosh and imbibe red wine.
Also, if you have time, grab a picnic lunch and head to Retiro Park, which is like the Central Park of Madrid. It comes equipped with a museum, lake, plaza and rose garden.
Tapas is very different from Americanized tapas which consists of various foods which include charcuterie options, frittatas and small open-faced sandwiches. As I recall, they were all served room temperature but I didn’t mind as I was partaking in a lovely glass of red wine by the time it was served up.
I’m a lover of anything from the pig so to see a Museo del Jamon (museum of ham) was a bit more than I could handle. So many options and so little euro…!
Desserts were heaven and my favorite was something as simple as churros and a nicely sized mug of chocolate sauce. And if all else fails and you simply can’t decide on the many delectable options in Madrid, just have a glass of vino and call it day!