I arrived into Madrid in the middle of the night, after flying from Budapest with Ryanair, and after gaining a very good understanding of the infamy surrounding a certain budget airline. The first thing I learnt after arriving in Spain? Spanish people do not have the same concept of time or the same level of punctuality that I do. Madrid was the perfect place to slow down for a while. I had been told by friends that Madrid was boring, and that I should skip it and head straight to Barcelona.
I am so glad I chose to ignore that advice.
When I think back to my time in Madrid, I have nothing but happy thoughts. I spent my days wandering and getting lost and finding things and learning to slow down a bit. I also spent my days eating, leading to my clothes becoming a bit more snug that usual, but I have no regrets because the food was everything I had dreamed, and a whole lot more.
On my first morning in Madrid, and by morning I mean around 2pm, I was up and ready to explore the city. Within two minutes of leaving my hostel I had stumbled upon a Hare Krishna parade going through the streets of the city centre. It was pretty spectacular and it put a big smile on my face for the rest of the day.
After a bit of a walk I eventually stumbled upon the beautiful Debod Temple, which is a small piece of Egypt in the middle of the city. It was gifted to Spain as a token of thanks, although my Spanish is pretty minimal (I would say almost completely non existent), so I am not sure what Spain did to warrant such a gorgeous gift.
After I was done exploring the temple, I went off in search of sustenance, however, it is in my nature to become distracted by anything that is shiny or pretty, so it is not a surprise that before I could eat my very late lunch, I took a detour by the Royal Palace of Madrid. There are no words in my vocab to describe how beautiful the rooms are within the palace, so here is a selfie that perfectly conveys my opinion on the matter.
After my rather long detour, I was off again, and before long I had stumbled upon the Mercado de San Miguel and the weight gain began. The market is full of delicious Spanish foods of all different varieties, so it’s a great way to try lots of things and get an idea of where your palate sits on the matter. To say that I gorged myself to the point of extreme pain is an understatement. I tried about 6 different types of seafood, including fresh cod with black caviar – both things I dislike, but apparently what you think you know about your taste-buds is forgotten in Spain. I tried a few different paellas (pronounced pie-yaye-ah), the squid ink one being a favourite, although it’s colour makes it a smidge daunting to actually try. I drank a few different wines, tried some jamon (hello heaven) and a few Spanish desserts before preparing my body for the cheese.
In Madrid there is definitely less people who speak English than in other big Western European cities, but despite there being a language barrier, I found that people were so incredibly generous even when we could barely communicate. As I was trying and failing spectacularly at ordering all my cheese in the native tongue, a woman next to me spoke to me in Spanish, and after we established that I spoke no Spanish and she spoke no English, she yelled something at the server and the next minute I had a new glass of wine and a whole plate of cheeses. Then she smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek. It’s an odd concept for me, but it made for an interesting story nonetheless.
After heading back to my hostel for an afternoon siesta after seriously overindulging, the next thing on my mind was obviously food again. Lucky for me on Sundays my hostel had a ‘free paella’ night, so I only had to walk a few metres for my next Spanish feast. After I was suitably full, a bunch of us staying in the hostel went out and spent the night drinking. I don’t remember much but what I do remember is far too embarrassing for me to relive on this blog.
The next day – cursed with an almighty hangover – I spent the day lounging around in my favourite place in Madrid – Retiro Park. The sun shone all day, it was peaceful yet lively, and I was able to spend an hour petting and feeding an adorable stray cat, who despite loving head scratches, had a bit of an aversion to my camera.
After the pounding in my head had disappeared, the only logical thing to do was have another night out, but with a bit more restraint shown by me in regards to alcohol consumption. Dinner was required first – and we decided to go and get dinner at La Buganvilla. This place seems to be a bit hit and miss – we had been told it was a great restaurant away from the touristy areas of Madrid, and we were lucky to get a truly amazing meal, but other people have told me that they left unsatisfied.
We ended up at a bit of an average club but the lovely lads and lasses I had met at the hostel made it a fun night nonetheless.
I love Madrid! I so badly want to return and waste away more days and gain a few extra paella induced kilograms.
So! Have you been to Madrid? Did you love it as much as I did?