A GIRLY WEEKEND IN MADRID
For Christmas this year my husband Tony and my friends husband excelled themselves by organising a girly weekend away in Madrid for myself and one of my best friends. With a very busy week schedule a few days away in June was a lovely thought and we were both looking forward to weekend away from anything work related. I had never visited Madrid before & I was really looking forward to exploring a new city.
So, on a very wet & miserable Friday morning in June we flew direct to Spain’s capital Madrid. After the smoothest journey imaginable, especially being out of the peak season, we arrived in central Madrid at our hotel by lunchtime ready to explore this exciting and beautiful city.
The lovely Hotel Paseo Del Arte was extremely well situated in walking distance of most attractions and it is an immaculate hotel. The check in was as smooth as could be with very efficient and friendly staff. We checked in to out lovely room quickly and easily, freshened up and decided to have a quick drink in the hotel bar to look at our information and plan our time. This is where I got my first surprise as the Gin measures are HUGE and I certainly knew I’d had it!!!! We already had a good idea of what we wanted to see before we arrived so we just decided which day we wanted to do what and off we went. That day we just wanted to wander around and get a feel for the city and its the most perfect place for this. Wherever you go and whatever street you turn down you fall upon fabulous squares full of eating places, lovely tavernas and bars. The city is buzzing and alive with a fantastic atmosphere and everywhere you look there’s a lovely hustle and bustle of local life going on around you. I love nothing more when I’m in a new city than to sit in an outdoor cafe or bar and watch the culture, traditions & life going by.
In every restaurant and taverna you really do sample local life and it is a very authentically Spanish city. There is an amazing choice of wonderful tapas dishes every where you go and every other cafe/shop is filled with every kind of meats, cheeses, breads and wonderful charcuterie platters. I love to sample local cuisine when I am abroad and the authentic tapas and paella was a real treat in Madrid. When in Spain a big jug or two of Sangria is a must and we really enjoyed this refreshing (& quite strong!!!) local drink. What is better than sat in a beautiful Spanish city, in the sunshine, drinking Sangria?!
After an afternoon and evening exploring the lovely streets and plazas we went back to the hotel (stopping in a gorgeous Spanish taverna or three on the way) to get some sleep.
We woke reasonably early on the Saturday to enjoy the hotel breakfast before heading out & what a treat. It really was one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had with everything imaginable to choose from.
I always find a good way to see a new city is on a bus tour on the first day, that way if you’re not there for long you get a good taste of the city and if you are there for a while you can decide on places you want to go back to.
So we got on the Madrid City bus and enjoyed a couple of hours just relaxing and soaking in the sights of this beautiful city.
Madrid is the largest city in Spain and it oozes style, creativity and Spanish traditions. It’s the perfect destination for couples and groups who want to explore the areas rich history of art, music and architecture. It’s full of magnificent gardens and cosmopolitan nightlife so there really is something for everyone.
Having travelled extensively one of my traditions has been to visit the Hard Rock Cafe in every city I’ve ever been to for a drink or a meal and get my obligatory photograph so we hopped off and had a quick drink in Madrid’s Hard Rock Cafe along the way.
It’s such a pretty city and the architecture is stunning. With all the bad weather we’ve had in the UK recently this glorious sunshine was just heaven. Everywhere looks & feels so much better when the sun is shining.
After a lovely morning through to lunchtime on the bus tour we went back to our hotel to shower and change so we could go out for late afternoon into the evening.
Whereas Friday had been quite busy but you could still easily get a table anywhere you wanted, Saturday was just unbelievably busy. One thing I would recommend to anyone going out to Madrid is to book a restaurant ahead of time if you are there on a Saturday. We did eventually find somewhere to eat and enjoyed some different tapas dishes which were delicious. After our meal we walked along to the famous Plaza Mayor which reminded me very much of Venice’s St Marks Square with lots of bars and restaurants around the sides and stalls and street performers in the centre. We fancied trying one of the scooters you can pick up along the way if you download the app but the streets were so busy we feared for people’s lives if we were driving scooters after a few Sangrias!!!!!!
Some fabulous dancers and street entertainers along the way made it another wonderful evening. I just love the authenticity of Madrid. All the locals were so friendly and polite and the city has such a lovely vibe about it.
We woke up in good time on the Sunday and enjoyed another superb breakfast which really set us up for the day right through until our evening meal. We had decided we wanted to have a cultured day and a visit to the Prado Museum was the order of the morning. What a stunning building this is. Sadly we didn’t get to see the outside in its full glory as some of it was boarded up for maintenance work but it didn’t spoil our visit. After waiting in a short queue which moved very quickly (you can also buy tickets on line) we bought our tickets at €18 per adult and went in.
With famous works and masterpieces by artists such as Velazquez, Antonella da Messina, Francisco Goya & Hieronymus Bosch, it really is an awe inspiring museum and we spent 2 or 3 hours in there admiring the work and this stunning building.
Back out into the glorious sunshine we enjoyed a lovely walk back into the centre and it was interesting to see that a couple of roads closed on a Sunday so pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the freedom of walking and cycling on the roads at their leisure. On a break away, one of the nicest things is to just wander and stop for a drink and snack wherever you fancy which we certainly took advantage of. We walked right across to the other side of the city to see the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Cathedral de la Almudena which were again stunning buildings.
Traditional Paella was in order for dinner that evening which was delicious and tasted of traditional Spanish cuisine. It was a delight later on to see some ladies and gentlemen dressed in tradition Spanish National Dress performing some dances in the streets and to see everyone having a wonderful time.
Sadly as we were leaving very early the next morning our time in Madrid had come to an end but what a fantastic weekend we’d had. I can’t recommend the Hotel highly enough and the check out was as easy and pleasant as check in.
Madrid is a city of rich culture and traditions coupled with the modern shops, bars and restaurants and has a fantastic vibe and buzz around it. We did quite a lot of walking to see as much as we could but we just did it all in our own time and enjoyed drinks and a look in the many shops along the way. I will definitely go back to this delightful place and would recommend it to anyone thinking of spending a long weekend there.