I wish I had asked the guide about whether it was worth having a Bocadillo de Calamari (Calamari sandwich) in Plaza Mayor as I had heard these “street food” sandwiches were a quick and easy lunch option. I am not sure what I was expecting but they were literally just calamari stuffed in a baguette! Not much flavour or taste to them so I would say to avoid these. What we loved much more were the thin jamon sandwiches you could get all over Madrid. With jamon as delicious as you get in Spain, this to me was the better simple but delicious street food option.
By this part of the long weekend, we were exhausted! Anyone who travels with me knows there is no time for rest as I want to see as much as I can but even I was wilting. One of the things on my to do list was to visit El Retiro park but I was considering giving it a miss to have a bit of a rest – but I am glad we didn’t! I did think that it was just going to be another park and parks are one thing we have plenty of in London, but El Retiro was absolutely stunning! It was huge for a start but it felt like lots of different parks rolled into one. It had a boating lake, landscaped gardens, cypress trees, glass palaces and sculptures. This was actually one of my favourite parts of Madrid, a real gem not to be missed.
We also managed to squeeze in a morning visit to El Prado, Spain’s national art gallery, home to lots of classical artists such as Velázquez, Goya and Bosch. The gallery is huge – you could easily spend an entire day here but we were running out of time. Our last stop was somewhere I had read about that I really wanted to try, a street food restaurant called Street XO. I wasn’t sure about the location, being at the top of the El Corte Ingles department store but it was 100% worth it! This is the casual Asian fusion place of chef David Muñoz, a Michelin starred chef so I figured it would be good, and it was amazing! Using Spanish ingredients and giving them an Asian twist, the food was incredible, even though some of the dishes did look like a Jackson Pollock painting. The inside was loud and industrial chic but outside, you can enjoy the lovely sun and great views over Madrid’s roof tops. A reasonably-priced delicious gourmet experience with a twist, this is my top tip for Madrid.
Overall, I loved Madrid and think it is seriously underrated. While it doesn’t have the Gaudi buildings, Sagrada Familia, and beach that Barcelona boasts, it has everything else – great food, friendly people, beautiful weather, grandiose buildings and culture. I think it is one of Spain’s hidden beauties that is definitely worth at least a mini-break, if not more.
Despues mi viaje grande a Cuba y Mexico, visité Madrid para un fin de semana, y me lo gusta mucho! Madrid es una ciudad muy hermosa con muchas edificios grandes. y hisotricas, y muchas mercados tambien. Visité el mercado del Rastro y un mercado de comida tambien para tapas y bebidas. El parque que se llama El Retiro fue mi favorito lugar en Madrid y quiero recomendar el restaurante Street XO en el centro para comidas interesante con ingredients Español y sabores de Asian!