As I said in my previous post, Day-trip to Madrid: the prequel, hubbie and I planned a day-trip to Madrid, so I could secure an official document from the U.S. Embassy that stated that though my name had changed after marriage, I didn’t magically morph into another person and am still in fact, me. I needed this document to continue the process of my Spanish residency. Yes, really.
So I made an appointment with the U.S. Embassy and the Minesterio de Asuntos Exteriores, booked a flight and hotel for two nights for hubbie and me (baby-girl Fiona would stay with the family in Galilea) on atrapalo.com, downloaded Eyewitness Travel’s Top Ten Madrid Kindle Edition on my iPad and started planning what we could realisitically cram into one day without killing ourselves.
I should mention that I hadn’t been back to Madrid since I lived there for almost two years during my college years, which is more than ten years ago by now. So my ability to show hubbie around was sketchy at best. I have great memories, but the when and where details are a bit fuzzy. So, hubbie helped us get from point A to point B, since my navigation skills on my best day aren’t exactly award-winning.
And without further ado, here is a great little itinerary for a day in Madrid (feel free to expel the stupid-ass government shenanigans).
We flew in on Tuesday night and checked into a charming hotel in Old Madrid on the edge of Plaza Mayor, called Posada del Peine. This little gem was founded in 1610 and is among the oldest in Madrid. The rooms are the size of postage stamps, but hey, sleeping doesn’t require a suite, right? It’s located on Calle Postas 17, has free computer and Wi-Fi access in every room and offers great rates. Funny story. When we arrived, our bed was missing pillows. I thought this was maybe some new modern trend I wasn’t aware of, but it turned out they just forgot to finish making the bed. Ha-ha.
Once we settled, we decided to wander out to find something to eat. The pickin’s were slim as it was after 1 a.m. on a weekday, so we chose a pizza joint where drunk college kids and backpackers seemed to frequent over McDonald’s in the Puerta del Sol area to satisfy our tummies. Then we headed back to the hotel, but to get my bearings, I decided to wander over to some curious looking arches about twenty steps from the front door of our hotel. It turned out to be one of many arched entries into Plaza Mayor and immediately my breath caught in my throat at the sight of it and dozens of memories came flooding back. I couldn’t believe I was here again after so long. If this place doesn’t take your breath away with it’s gorgeous architecture, rich history and happening scene, I don’t know what to tell you.
[Insert pic of Plaza Mayor here. I can’t believe I forgot to snap one. Doh!]
On Wednesday morning, we got up bright and early to make our way to the U.S. Embassy on Calle Serrano, 75. We made it to the Sol metro station, I refreshed my memory on how to get around on the metro, then realized I had left all of my paperwork in the hotel room. So, we turned around and decided to cab it to the Embassy, so as not to be late for my appointment. We arrived in plenty of time, secured the ridiculous document and left the mean embassy employees behind while muttering about them under our breath. Surprisingly, this first stop took no time at all leaving us plenty of time to entertain ourselves before heading over to the Minesterio de Asuntos Exteriores. So we decided to walk, people watch, peek at the many glamorous storefronts and just enjoy being in the city – just the two of us.
We arrived at the Minesterio way too early for my appointment, but because they’re actual nice people and not evil government drones, they saw me anyway. Spain: 1; U.S: 0. For shame. I was in, got my ridiculous document legalized and was out in ten minutes. Hurray! We had almost an entire day to tool around Madrid. And wouldn’t you know it, El Parque del Buen Retiro was a half a block away, so we mosied on over. It was just as I remembered only more beautiful, even though winter had removed all of the leaves from the trees, it was gray out and just looking at the gigantic lake near the main entrance gave me a chill. We headed on over to one of the outdoor cafeterías to grab a bite to eat. Sure, it was cold, but we wanted to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous park views. We warmed ourselves with bocadillos de jamón serrano y queso manchego and tortilla española followed by delicious churros con chocolate. Heaven.
We walked around the park a bit, then headed to the metro entrance within the park itself and took it to Plaza Opera. We got out, enjoyed the scene of the Christmas Markets and the plaza itself for a bit, walked past the Opera House and headed over to the Palacio Real just a few steps away. I had already taken the tour at least twice and hubbie had no interest in entering, so we just walked around and took in the façade and the palace grounds and imagined what it must have been like back in the day.
Then we just began to wander. We visited Calle Gran Vía, Plaza Callao, Plaza España, Plaza Opera again because Leo wanted more churros con chocolate (and let’s face it, he didn’t exactly have to twist my arm), which we enjoyed while sitting on a bench and people watching. Then we wandered around Plaza Mayor again and headed back to the hotel to refresh ourselves and decide on our evening plans. We decided on Casa Alberto for dinner because it was located in Old Madrid and had good reviews for its classic Madrileño cooking, which hubbie wanted to taste.
So we walked over to Calle Huertas and made a reservation for 8 p.m. (always recommended and reservations for dinner usually begin at 8 p.m.). Then we wandered up the street a bit to Café Central, an art-decó cafe and great place for tapas and beer while enjoying live jazz music, or not. Either way, it’s extremely cozy and enjoyable, especially when you have an adorable waiter who enjoys taking the piss out of you, in a friendly way of course. After a few drinks and some lively chit-chat, we dizzily wandered back to Casa Alberto for dinner. The food was homey and tastey. The place was small with a warm and cozy old world vibe and you could almost imagine Cervantes there writing part of Don Quixote. We ate and drank our fill (a general theme for December. I need to start working out.), walked around a bit to enjoy the remains of the evening, capped the night off with a coffee at Plaza Santa Ana and headed back to the hotel around 11:30 p.m. as we had a 6 a.m. flight to catch back to Mallorca the next day.
We felt refreshed and totally clever for taking advantage of a forced trip by the stupid-ass government to enjoy some of what classic Madrid has to offer. Mission accomplished.