Last weekend I spent some days in Madrid, Spain. I’ve been to Spain before, but never to the capitol Madrid. With it’s 3 million citizens and 21 city districts it really is a big city. To big (and to hot) to walk all day. Although I’ve walked a lot the past days, the underground Metro system was absolutely brilliant.
Like the Metro in Paris the system works really easy. Each line is marked with a colour and a number and always has an endpoint. Just look on the map where you are (you can see the name of the station) and where you want to go, and plan you’re route. Tickets are sold on each station and are not expensive IMO.
During these past days I’ve tried to see as much as possibile, but I relaxed even more. There are some highlights I wanted to share. So if you’ll ever visit Madrid, you might want to consider the places I’ve been.
Mercado de San Miguel
This is truly Tapas heaven. Tapas are small portions of spanish food and vary from fish to meat, vegetables to croquettes and everything in between. Most famous are the Jamon Ibèrico (ham) and Chorizo saucages.
The Mercado is a former market place, an iron hall with lots of different stores. All stores are open and connected, you can order a small bite on each store and eat it where you want. They serve good wine and champagne, even oisters are available.
There’s a really good vide, everyone is happy. Probably because of the good food and friendly people. The spanish people really understand food, and eating.
Parque del Buen Retiro (El Retiro)
El Retiro is a public parc, formerly the garden of the palace of Filips IV.Until the 17th century this was the private park of the royal family, in the 1869 the park was opened to the public. The park is immense, beautiful and clean.
The citizens of Madrid come here in there spare time to relax. I can’t imagine a better place to relax then in this park. You can hire a rowboat for a few euros and row on the lake, get a drink on the terrace or just relax on the grass.
There are a lot of talented street musicians, I haven’t heard one that was disturbing in any way. During a walk through the park, looking for a good picnic spot, we came across two musicians surrounded by dancing and laughing people. It made me smile, it was looked like great fun!
After we’ve found a good picnic spot we took our whine, jamon de ibèrico and chorizo and lunched in the park. This was heaven…
Students are having a hard time. Studying, working hard to pay the bills, socializing in the bar. They probably won’t have enough money to pay for food. That’s what the owners of “El Tigre” must have thought.
Each time you order a drink, you’ll get a plate of food. If you think it doesn’t look good, you’ll be deceived. I’ve read about this place on the internet and walked in to get a started. After two glasses of beer, and two huge glasses of wine for my girlfriend, I was packed with food. It’s very crowdy and most people are students, but it’s Madrid. I loved it.
A local bar
If you have the chance, visit a random local bar. Try to avoid the bar’s filled the tourists, if it’s packed with spanish people you’re in the right place. Although some bar’s look like a bathroom, with the white tiles and hard lighting, the atmosphere is great.
I stepped into a local bar because it rained (unfortunately). We ordered a glass of white wine and got some olives (most restaurants serve a small dish with olives for free). We faced a group of friends, probably around 40 years old. Each of them had a bag filled with fish. Some brought calamaris (squid), some shrimps and there was lobster (some of them where alive!).
Eventually they all shared they’re food, drink a beer and had a laugh. They offered their food to us and it was really good fun!