We landed in Madrid close to 9 p.m. on Friday night. The five of us girls rode in a taxi from the airport to our AirBNB, where we checked in with our host. Her name was Amelia and she was so kind and welcoming and our accommodations were great for a quick weekend getaway.
We settled in and went in search of dinner. We settled on Restaurante Feito Rio, which was just a few blocks from our apartment. The food was incredible and the service was excellent. We left around midnight, but there were others who had just sat down at their tables. Here’s what we ordered as a group of five.
- Tinto Verano
- Huevos Rotos con Patatas
- Flores de Alcachofa con Salsa de Miel y Trufa
- Hamburguesa Gourmet (con queso Brie Fundido y Cebolla Glaseada)
- Brownie Casero de Chocolate con Nueces y Helado de Vainilla
The Spanish food culture was very different than what we are used to in the states and even in other European countries. Many restaurants don’t open for dinner until after 8 p.m. and some will stay open until two, three or four in the morning.
In Spain, it’s always encouraged to stay as long as you like and to enjoy your meal and the company of others. After a long day of travel, this type of culture was just what we needed to make us feel welcome in this new country.
Our group was ready to discover the beautiful city of Madrid on Saturday morning. The air was cool and brisk, but the sun peaking through the clouds provided just the warmth we desired.
We started the day by having brunch at El Saltón where we all ordered Spanish omelettes or “pinchos” and coffee. From there, we took the metro to Museo Nacional del Prado. It felt like the rooms filled with the world-famous masterpieces went on forever. I knew Goya’s “Third of May, 1808” and Velazquez’s “Las Meninas” from art history class. I stood before these paintings with feelings of awe and disbelief that I was actually there.
Lunch time came around and we decided to dine at Casa María, a wonderful restaurant in the heart of La Plaza Mayor. This grand tourist attraction brings many people to admire the street performers and the surrounding architecture. We ordered sangria and tapas to share as well as paella, a traditional Spanish rice dish typically served with seafood. The meal, the company and the setting could not have been more perfect.
From La Plaza Mayor, we ventured over to Puerta del Sol, one of the busiest parts of Madrid. This area is filled with great places to eat and shop and people watch. We strolled around this area for awhile until we got hungry.
Café & Tapas was our restaurant of choice for dinner as we were looking for just that, coffee and tapas. Sitting outside on the terrace, listening to the Spanish chatter around us and soaking up our last night in Madrid was a wonderful way to end a great day. Very few things are better than traveling with friends, discovering new places and making unforgettable memories along the way.
Tip: Bring your student ID to get discounts on tickets to attractions (they may even be free!)
The pace was much slower than the previous day. We enjoyed our final Spanish breakfast at Market Cafe Madrid on the chilly Sunday morning.
Once shops began to open at noon, we leisurely window shopped until we came across Apodemia. The small, warm and inviting jewelry shop drew us in (how could five girls turn down a jewelry store?!) and we were not disappointed. The beautiful shop was filled with paper butterflies and dainty jewelry we couldn’t peel our eyes away from.
After finally leaving Apodemia (not empty-handed, of course), the five of us journeyed to experience the El Rastro flea market in all its glory. El Rastro has become quite the tourist attraction, but locals are not few and far between.
I admired the sea of denim jackets (every thrift shoppers dream) and hand-painted canvases as I walked up and down the aisles of tents. Not long after we arrived however, the vendors began to pack up their shops as the ever-important siesta was fast approaching. This was our cue to grab a quick lunch before heading to the airport.
We found ourselves back at Feito Rio where we ordered our favorite dishes from our first night in Madrid. However, this time was different.
We returned with experiences and memories of Madrid rather than mere imaginations of what the city would hold. Even if just for a few days, we all gained the magic of the beautiful Spanish capital.
We departed Madrid not long after arriving a few days prior and made our way back to Budapest. The five of us left with backpacks a little heavier from souvenirs and hearts a lot bigger after experiencing this culture full of passion, soul and love.
Madrid has a piece of my heart and I know it’s waiting for me to experience its magic all over again.