Being Spanish but not Madrilena, I always dreamt of visiting Madrid and my dream finally became a reality on my 17th birthday (that’s when I took my first trip to Madrid.) One stay was enough, it was love at first sight! I’ve been back several times since that special occasion and the only thing I wanted to do was discover more great places and get a feel of Madrid’s life.
But why do I love Madrid so much?
Spanish people know how to live and have a good time but undoubtedly, Madrid is a city that knows how to live and lets you live with it! You can feel the passion immediately, just walking on the big captivating streets…you receive the city’s colourful past filled with art and history!
Madrid’s history and rich artistic collections can be found just a minutes walk from El Retiro in Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. These are the places where you can admire historic masterpieces from Spanish artists such as Picasso, Goya or Velazquez.
Once you have visited some of the greatest art museums, it is time to taste some Spanish food! The local cuisine has absolutely everything but I highly recommend the tapas, it is delicious! The typical fillings of cocido madrileno or the uncommon bocadillo de calamares are just to die for! Creativity in its traditional gastronomy makes Madrid a culinary pleasure.
And what about the fiesta? Well, Madrid is the city where the night takes you well away! It is definitely the winner for me when it comes to weekend breaks, everything is on offer in this city with a unique atmosphere, excellent food, great people, respectable history, urban spaces, places and great night life.
So how would you expect to spend your perfect Sunday?
Madrilenos know how to enjoy their lives in the fast lane but also in the alternative laid back way. On a Sunday you will find them either in a coffee shop “para tomar algo” (as they say), walking around the main square or planning a visit to El Rastro de Madrid, a picturesque flea market where locals and tourists gaze at the stalls.
Wake up bright and early this Sunday Morning and head on over to El Rastro. There is no internet, no vitrine shops, just the good old fashioned ways of selling! I still remember the voice of a vendor shouting “Offer for today!!! Take 3 and pay 2!!! Hurry up, we wont be here tomorrow!!!!” while inviting people to take a closer look at his items. There is so much art on offer that you’ll find is truly captivating. El Rastro is a place which feels familiar, unscathed by time.
The market origin dates back to the XV and XVI centuries when slaughterhouses, tanneries and sellers were making their first steps in establishing themselves in the neighbourhood.
Be prepared for a good old haggle at the old markets, I suggest you get there early to get the best offers! But what can you buy? Well there is just so much ranging from vintage items, furniture, clothing, old maps and prints, accessories, antiques, books and pets. Haggling is so much fun and will make the time fly by and before you know it you will notice Madrilenos having their Vermouth at local bars, signifying it is noon already.
Metro: La Latina
Sunday Mornings : 8:30AM – 2PM (approx.)
Next on the agenda is a walk through La Latina neighbourhood, which surrounds El Rastro. This is the oldest area in Madrid also known as El Madrid de Los Austrias. This vicinity is definitely worth walking through, the narrowness contrasts with large squares, it really is beautiful.
After many hours of exploring, it will be time to stop for a rest at “Juana La Loca Restaurant” in La Latina to enjoy some succulent, mouth-watering tapas. If you visit Madrid, this place is a must! Enjoy “Juana La Loca Tortilla de Patata” and “Croquetas de Boletus”, since both dishes are to die for!
Continue walking a little further until you reach the turn of to La Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s famous central square. It dates back to 1557, during King Felipe III’s reign, when he asked renowned Classical Architect Juan de Herrera to remodel the Old Plaza del Arrabal. During the years it has been the scene for divers events, markets, public executions and bullfights. Today it serves as a meeting point for tourists and locals where everyone can enjoy a cup of coffee whilst appreciating the amazing architecture.
Once 5pm arrives it is time to enjoy a good cup of coffee and there is no better place than Le Rollerie (which is not far from La Plaza Mayor!) Le Rollerie is an artisan patisserie (you have to try one of their famous cinnamon rolls, it is the best cinnamon roll I have ever had!) You can combine them with white chocolate, dulce de nata, dark chocolate and toffee. If you want the real Madrid experience then complement your cinnamon roll with a “chocolate a la taza” (or a coffee, but it won’t be the same!)
After a long but fun-filled day, end it by heading over to The Coconut Bar. With a strong Hawaiian theme running throughout, The Coconut Bar is an exotic cocktail bar in Malasana right in the heart of the city. From the moment you enter you are hit by a positive, relaxed sensation. Pineapples, hammocks, palm trees and glamorous picture frames surround you. Order a strawberry daiquiri or a pina colada and relax in a hammock, listening to alternative music whist being surrounded by good people.
Madrid is unique. You will discover another world in which anything and everything is possible.
A big thank you to Maria Acevedo for this post, such a wonderful insight into Madrid! If you fancy reading more from Maria then head on over to www.eyesofhermes.com