It’s one of my favourite cities and brings back joyous memories of the crowded and lively Gran Via, shopping in Spanish clothing giant – Inditex (shops such as Zara, Bershka or Stradivarius), a baguette with jamon serrano or patatas bravas eaten with my friends, delicious and perfect like nowhere else. Long walks and even longer nights out, churros con chocolate in the oldest chocolateria in town and sangria, tortilla de patatas and San Miguel beer. Hello, it’s Madrid here. In its supplement, a Polish newspaper entitled Gazeta Wyborcza once asked famous travellers where they left their hearts. Well, if they asked me, I would answer Madrid… Keep that in mind – I will try to be objective in telling you about the city, but I can’t say for how long… But on the other hand, isn’t it the best recommendation to go and see the city for yourself? 🙂

Cava Baja, Madryt

busy Cava Baja

It’s my sixth time in Madrid and I feel quite at home here. The feeling is even stronger this time because I’m staying at my friend’s house and with my family. No hotel, normal shopping in a nearby supermercado and quasi- normal life for the next 4 days:) I was looking forward to finally see Madrid with Łukasz and now I’m happy cause he wants to come here again! Gracia a Dios! 🙂 (Thank God!). I’m already looking forward to yet another arrival at Barajas airport and long walks through my favourite streets, chilling in the little squares, drinking sangria and eating pimientos de padron or patatas bravas… But let’s get back to reality now…

Madryt, hiszpański styl życia

who wouldn’t want to come back here?

Madrid is the biggest city in Spain with 3.5 million inhabitants (5.8 million in the whole agglomeration). Madrid is also the home of Spanish officials and a big cultural centre due to museums such as Museo Del PradoMuseo Reina Sofia or Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. We skipped the museums this time (we’re still waiting for Maksymilian to grow up a little as now the danger of a disaster in a museum is too high). I’ve seen Prado and Reina Sofia before and they are surely worth recommending. This time we walked a lot and ate tapas which turned out to be our most important meals. I love tapas so much that each time I come here, I don’t even look into the menu, and just order MY favourite ones 🙂

What is there in Madrid that you really need to see? Take a walk on one of the biggest and nicest streets of Madrid – Gran Via from Plaza de España to one of the perpendicular streets leading to the most popular meeting point – Puerta del Sol. The main attraction of the square is the bear monument reminiscent of the city’s coat of arms.

Then, head to Plaza Mayor and visit one of the nearby restaurants, eat a tortilla calamares or little green peppers grilled with salt – pimientos de pardon… Easy to try at home but the taste is quite difficult to achieve and impossible to fake 😉

Puerta del Sol, Madryt

landmark in Puerta del Sol — the bear

Plaza Mayor, Madryt

Plaza Mayor, one of themust sees in Madrid

Plaza Mayor, Madryt

beautiful building facades in Plaza Mayor

A long time ago Plaza Mayor used to be an important location. Coronations, festivals, corridas, theatre plays and infamous inquisition executions — they all took place here. Now the place is filled with weirdly dressed people, giant soap bubbles, resting tourists and Spaniards drinking sangria in cafes. This year the main trend among the dressed up was levitation…

Plaza Mayor, Madryt

a popular trend this year

After seeing Plaza Mayor, you can go in a few directions…

If you follow tiny streets parallel to Calle Mayor, you will find yourself in front of Palacio Real (King’s Palace) with a nice, big and green square called Plaza de Oriente in front of it. You can rest here for a while, drink sangria in one of the cafes, and every little one will enjoy giant soap bubbles and a nearby playground. Palacio Real  is the official residence of the king of Spain with… 2,800 rooms! King Juan Carlos doesn’t live here now but in another palace on the outskirts of the city. So you know, the place is vacant 😉 When in the area, check the Almudena Cathedral and Jardines de Sabatini gardens surrounding the King’s Palace.

Palacio Real, Madryt

official residence of the King of Spain — Palacio Real

Plaza de Oriente, Madryt

no more running, so Maks is quite unhappy (Plaza de Oriente)

After seeing Plaza Mayor try one of the cafes or pubs around La Latina… If you’re more into not-so-royal immigrant Madrid, head to  Tirso de Molina subway station and then to Plaza Lavapies… Madrid there is a little bit different but still picturesque and friendly…

Lavapies, Madryt

Madryt off the beaten track

Lavapies, Madryt

street art

You cant’s say you’ve been to Madrid if you haven’t walked the Paseo Del Prado (even if you skipped the museum), visited the enormous Retiro park (Maks found it particularly awesome!) or Plaza de Cibeles, known for the Cybele fountain, where Real Madrid footballers celebrate their victories with fans.

Plaza de Cibeles, Madryt

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza Cibeles, Madryt

Cibeles fountain — an ioonic place for all madridistas

park Retiro, Madryt

one of the crucial points of a lazy Sunday walk — Retiro

Retiro, Madryt

park = happiness!

Maks was an avid parks visitor (as seen in the above picture). Starting with Retiro and ending with a park around Temple de Debod area, where we lived. Maks found his own “must see” there – the PLAYGROUND!

podróżowanie z dzieckiem, Madryt

a favourite sight seeing spot

As I already mentioned, my favourite dishes are an essential element of every trip to Madrid or to Spain in general.

What is there to eat in Madrid? As you know, we are big tapas lovers, para picar style. “Para picar” is one of the Spanish terms that’s quite hard to translate. Łukasz also thought so and even started using the phrase when we came back to Poland. It means “to nibble”. You order a tortilla, patatas bravas (roasted potatoes) and fried calamari and eat it together. That’s the best way to do it – in a company, when you can try all sorts of different things 🙂 I often miss this way of eating when in Warsaw… I’ll write more about what we tried in Madrid later. For now you have to stick to these two – something spicy and something sweet 🙂 Simple and modest on one hand and elegant and exquisite on the other…

patatas bravas, alioli, Madryt

patatas bravas and alioli accompanied almost all our meals

Patatas bravas is a total culinary pleasure for me, even though it’s not really sophisticated nor fancy. The secret is the sauce – spicy and pepper flavoured. I love it so much that I bought a whole bottle to take home with me. It’s almost gone by now. Here salsa brava is accompanied by garlic aioli. Delicious!

La Antonita, Madryt

one of the most unusual desserts we’ve ever had

After potatoes we ordered an exquisite and unusual dessert. White chocolate mousse that looked like… soap! That’s how the dessert was called. It was also accompanied by soap-like foam. Why? The restaurant  La Antonita, where we tried it used to be a place where a lady named Antonita sold soap some time ago. This dessert is a homage to her.. Any of you ever tried soap for dessert? 🙂 No? Then get to Madrid quickly. I’ll write more about other specialties later on 🙂