We just got back from visiting our daughter who is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. The timing wasn't perfect with everything going on with the house but there was no way that we weren't going to make it to Spain to visit our daughter. We booked the flights long ago and were determined to enjoy Spain on a shoestring!
Matt and I both worked a full day, took the train to Newark airport and boarded the plane to Madrid. That was the very same day that we signed the contract for the new house. Faxing of forms, juggling funds for the down payment and making sure that everything was in order at work and not missing the train or forgetting our passports - STRESSFUL. Luckily Matt's co workers came up with Euros we could borrow so that we had a little cash in our pockets!
We arrived in Madrid a little bedraggled and headed for the Metro - only 2,50 € to get to our hotel versus 32 € for a cab. One problem - we had two close to 50 lb. bags, a laptop and carry ons - oh and I am terrified of escalators! I can go down no problem but up... that's a problem. My poor husband had to take both large bags and I ran up all the flights of stairs and grabbed my bag off when we got to the top. We must have made quite the impression! Pink line, blue line... we arrived at Plaza de España, our home for the next 10 days. 10 days of great food and plenty of wine!
We settled into our hotel - Suites 33 on Calle de Leganitos. The hotel was small but quite adequate. The location was perfect and we had free wireless and a small kitchen. The kitchen had a stove but no cookware - odd. I did at least have the forethought to bring a paring knife, ziploc bags and a wine opener.
|Jamon Iberico Sandwich from Don Jamon|
The next day we went to El Corte Inglés, a large supermarket below a huge department store where we bought bottled water, wine, beer, orange juice, croissants and chocolate. Wine is super inexpensive and I really liked the Rioja and Ribera del Duero - wonderful reds. We just loved the Valor dark chocolate bars with almonds. We became regulars at the market. A few notes on the supermarket:
- You need your passport if paying with a credit card (they let us use a driver's license)
- You cannot touch the produce (you ask for what you need and it is weighed for you or in some markets you put on plastic gloves and weigh/price yourself)
- You can buy single beers (Mahou is the regional beer)
- Bring your own bags (you pay for bags)
We spent the day getting familiar with the city and walked countless miles. We visited the Prado (Madrid's famous art museum), which is free to visit on Sundays, so of course we visited on Sunday! Our dinner pick was Casa Mingo, an Asturian cider house that was established in 1888. Many restaurants in Madrid are closed on Sundays and Casa Mingo is open so it was a perfect day to go. They have an amazing homemade hard cider that is an unbelievable bargain at 5,30€. We ate delicious roasted chicken (10€), chorizo in cider (3,40€), salad and bread. The chorizo was my favorite and the salad was the only disappointment. It was very plain and looked pre-packaged but everything else was really good. I wanted the queso cabrales (aged blue cheese) but I couldn't have eaten it all myself... I craved it from then on...It was approximately 40€ for three of us. Bargain!
Right next door to the restaurant there is a lovely church San Antonio de la Florida with the most beautiful frescoes painted by Francisco de Goya. A must see! Free admission too!
The next few days Ashley had classes so Matt and I continued to explore the city and eat well. We visited the Mercado de San Miguel which I was extremely excited for. We did have some amazing ham there but I found it to be very pricey. We had a few bites to eat and moved on.
At this point in the trip, I started really feeling like I needed a healthy meal. We had way too much salty and fried foods and few vegetables. We do not eat that way at home. I was determined to find somewhere for a healthy dinner. I was so grateful that we brought a laptop and I could research. I stumbled across good reviews of Al Natural, a vegetarian restaurant near the Prado. Sold! Ashley, Matt and I went for dinner. We had a complimentary appetizer of the most wonderful spinach and pear croquetas. I plan on writing in to Bon Appetit magazine in hopes of attaining the recipe. So good! We also had the best veggie burgers of our lives. Who would even think that a veggie burger could be that good?! Eggplant with a pistachio sauce and a wonderful salad were also enjoyed. Rolls were served and put on the check even though we did not order it. Apparently that is done in Spain. No big deal as the rolls were excellent and they were only .70€ a piece. Ashley enjoyed a vegan apple cake and tea for dessert. We were also given complimentary after dinner drinks of rum with honey. The atmosphere was very relaxing. Fabulous meal! We returned another day for lunch.
To be continued... churros con chocolate, Indian food, tapas, pizza, the best croissants and more!