Travel Wishlist: Madrid

While Madrid may not have the obvious charm found in Gaudi’s wonderland of Barcelona, it’s a tremendously vibrant capital and makes a great city break. For me, the highlights were visiting the incredible museums – two of the most renowned in the world – the Prado and the Reina Sofia. For the foodie, the Mercado San Miguel is an upscale tapas haven.

To Stay:

  • Vincci Via 66: This lovely modern hotel is a stone’s throw from the Santo Domenico metro station on the Gran Via. While the are itself is not the most charming, it’s a very central location which makes it easy to get around the city. Even better, the amazing San Miguel market is walking distance away.
Vincci Via 66
Gran Via 66
Madrid, Spain, 28013
+34 (91) 5504299

 

Culture:

  • Museo Nacional del Prado: I wanted to visit the Prado ever since I studied Spanish in high school. The Prado is home to some of the most amazing art in the world, and my favorite was definitely Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. This amazing work, structured in three wood panels, depicts Adam and Eve’s paradise on the left, hell on the right, and in the middle, the intricate scenes of earthly delights. The intricacy and complexity is unbelievable.
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia: The jewel of the Reina Sofia is most certainly Picasso’s huge canvas representing the grotesqueness of war, Guernica. I spent about 20 minutes just staring at this masterpiece. Spain’s pride in both Picasso and Dali is clear at the Reina Sofia as the collections are vast and varied. The architecture of this modern art museum is stunning as well, so leave time to explore.
Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo Prado 
Madrid, Spain 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Calle Santa Isabel, 52
28012 Madrid, Spain


Tours and Experiences:

  • Walks of Spain Tapas Tour: I’m a huge fan of a good food tour. 🙂 The Walks of Spain tour was my first tapas tour in Spain and I was spoiled. Lead by enophile Andres, who brings wine from his own collection to the stops on his tour, it’s a combination walking history lesson and tour of some of the modern and trendy tapas stops in Madrid. The tours run at 65 Euros per person, a reflection of the quality of food and wine. No tourist traps here!
Walks of Spain Tapas Tours
Meeting place: Plaza de la Villa, Madrid, Spain
+34 653 91 28 79
http://www.walksofspain.com/#_=_ 

 

To Eat:

  • Mercado San Miguel: While this amazing market has all of the fresh produce, seafood and meat stalls you would expect, it’s decidedly more upscale than its Barcelona equivalent. What struck me most were the varied global food options served in small plates, tapas style. My favorite were the Italian offerings including an incredibly light burrata topped with prosciutto at the Moz stall. A must!
  • Loft 39: This trendy spot was a stop on the Walks of Spain tapas tour mentioned above. The “buenas noticias” or “good news” was the winner of the 2011 national tapas competition (yes, that’s a thing). If not a stop on your tour, or you just want to skip the tour and get to the good bits, this is a great stop!
  • Chocolateria San Gines: Mmmmm churros and chocolate. This hot spot is known for being open nearly 24 hours a day, so you can get your churro fix with the frequency you’d have gelato in Italy and at your own convenience (read: three times per day). There’s no customer service here: join the line, pay for your churros, pop the receipt on your chosen table and it will be slapped down when it’s ready, all with few words spoken by the staff. Don’t be intimidated, you’d not want to talk much either if you were slinging churros to tourists all day. 😉
Mercado San Miguel
Plaza San Miguel, 
28005 Madrid, Spain
+34 915424936
Loft 39
Velazquez 39, 
28001 Madrid, Spain
Chocolateria San Gines
Pasadizo de San Gines 5
28013 Madrid, Spain 

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© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2015.

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Hola Madrid

Something has happened to me.  I think it’s serious…

I officially get stir crazy if I haven’t jetsetted off to a different European country in the course of a month.  It’s a sickness.

So, when we had our end of summer bank holiday in the UK at the end of August, I felt the need to get away.  Mainly I wanted to relax and not feel pressure to tourist around so I was initially thinking of going to Rome or Paris, two cities I’ve visited before.

But then, through the influential powers of trip deals on Expedia, I thought, why not Madrid?  I’d been wanting to visit the Prado since taking Spanish in high school, and a little chorizo and patatas bravas wouldn’t go amiss either. 🙂

Madrid is often described as being the most “Spanish” of Spanish cities.  It’s a bit grittier than Barcelona and without the unique sandcastle Gaudi architecture, but it’s culturally significant in that it’s home to the Prado and the Reina Sofia (both of which I had the extreme pleasure to see on my visit.)  I got to peer firsthand at canvas upon canvas of Picasso and Dali, and of course, gaze at “Guernica,” Picasso’s masterpiece now housed at the Reina Sofia, for the better part of a Sunday afternoon.

And then there’s the food.  I wanted to take a tapas tour and luckily I found the fantastic Walks of Spain tapas tours after perusing TripAdvisor.  This is not a tourist trap, but instead a culinary journey guided by enophile Andres.  He actually brings wine from his own cellar to the restaurants.  And the stops on the tour aren’t restaurants you would find in a beaten guidebook, but instead some of the trendy, modern gems of Madrid.  My favourite munchie?  The “buenas noticias” at Loft 39, winner of the 2011 national tapas competition – Viva Espana!

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© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2012.