Madrid is a small city with a lot of charisma. Much of our first night was spent walking around marveling at buildings and enjoying the vibe of the city. We had dinner at a small restaurant near our hotel. Our waiter spoke no English and our mediocre high school Spanish failed us when we accidently ordered bottled water instead of tap and weren’t sure if we were correctly ordering our dinner. Despite the language barriers, dinner was delicious. Adam and I ordered paella (because, well, we were in Spain!). It was presented family style in a massive pan; we couldn’t believe the size of it. Despite being shocked at how absolutely ginormous it was, we managed to finish most of it no problem. Don’t miss out on the paella experience when you visit Spain! After dinner we wandered around the city before heading back to the hotel.
We began our first morning in Madrid with a to-go baguette and a walk to the Plaza de Mayor. From here, we took a tour through Madrid learning about its history and seeing its most popular and important sights. Our favorite piece of information from the tour was learning about equestrian statues (sounds nerdy, I know). When you see a statue of a man on a horse and all four of the horse’s hooves are on the ground, it means that the rider died of causes unrelated to battle; when one hoof is up, the rider died of wounds related to battle, and when two hooves are up, the rider died in battle. The equestrian statues are scattered all throughout Europe and it was fun to know what they meant everywhere we went.
After the tour we made our way to El Reteiro Park, stopping along the way for lunch and a churro. The park was beautiful and full of people soaking up the summer sun. After a quick break in the shade and a cup of ice cream, we wandered around Madrid some more enjoying the sights and ended at the Museo del Prado (which has free admission from Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 8pm, and Sundays and holidays from 5pm to 7pm, and is worth a visit). We raced around the museum in search of Greco, Rafael and Titian and then left in search of a bar. We had learned on the tour that Atletico Madrid (one of the local professional soccer teams) was playing their rivals Barcelona in their league finals and wanted to partake in the excitement. We managed to watch the end of the game, which resulted in Atletico Madrid winning their league! All Madrid fans raced to the Plaza Canovas des Castulo to celebrate, and so did we. The atmosphere was such fun, everyone was singing and cheering and fans kept pouring into the plaza. Around 8:30pm, Adam and I realized that we hadn’t eaten dinner (quickly getting into the Spanish tradition of eating late dinners) and went to a bakery called Uvepan. We ordered a lot but the definite highlight was Adam’s croissant with tomato puree and Iberian ham (he said that it was one of the best things he has ever eaten!). Our last night in Madrid was a lot of fun and the city was certainly a great introduction to Spain.