Madrid was included on our visit list this trip as a bit of a wild card, and we’re very glad that we included it. We had great luck with our airbnb apartment which turned out to be a gorgeous two bedroom, two bathroom stylishly decorated apartment on the edge of Malasana, a very hip and happening part of town with oodles of both old world charm and up tempo modernity and ideas.
The narrow streets are filled with small cafes and bars, quirky clothing shops and small local general stores.
After meeting our airbnb hosts and checking in to the apartment we headed to a nearby supermarket to get some supplies. It hit home just how difficult it can be when trying to find simple things like vanilla yoghurt to have with breakfast when everything is, naturally enough, in Spanish. Luckily, beer is sold in easily identifiable packaging and, like England and France, it sells very cheaply in the supermarket.
Feeling a bit more organised we head out to have a look at our local neighbourhood and first stop is a craft beer cafe that Yelp has managed to find for us.
The Fabrica Maravillas isn’t far away at all and turns out to be a fresh and lively bar with a small range of beers brewed in the microbrewery on site.
Young couples arrive and the young woman behind the bar is friendly and welcoming.
The Malasana Ale, named for the local neighbourhood is a great drop and a welcome change after the commercial beers so far in Paris and Barcelona.
After enjoying a couple of the craft brews, we wander up the street and find a nice restaurant for dinner. It’s a lovely meal and we are then able to wander home through Malasana after a nice day of travel and arrivals.
Before arriving in Madrid, we chose to sign up for a cycle tour and we were lucky to get a guide who was full of both personality and knowledge of history and ideas. He also introduced us to the Menu del Dia.
The cycle tour took in the major attractions in central Madrid with plenty of opportunity to get a feel for the streets and culture from the bike seat. From the narrow streets of Malasana, to the Grand Palace and Prado, we cycled around 15k with a mixed group from a number of European countries and a guide from Hungary. You can watch some of the sights below.
Then, our airbnb host arranged tickets for us to see Atletico Madrid beat Juventas 1-0 in the European Champions League game at the magnificent Calderon stadium: an amazing experience of passion and great crowd humour.
In the meantime, we’d had time for some shopping and some more wandering in the local Malasana neighbourhood.
We find the bicycle cafe; a cafe and co-working space with a friendly Englishman behind the bar.
Then, walking on a little further we come across a lovely lunchtime option with a great Menu del Dia and some interesting decorations and ideas.
This one, on the wall, seemed particularly poignant.
We have a half day to fill before we fly back to London to stay overnight and decide to use the Metro to travel a few stops and head to the Reina Sofia Museum to have a look at some more art; especially Picasso, including the world famous Guernica.
The museum is an interesting outing, with lovely old buildings and new extensions.
The combination of colours and textures with this large installation is very vibrant.
A nearby cafe serves up another great Menu del Dia and, replete, we grab the Metro back to Grand Via station and return to the apartment to pack up and get ready to fly out.
Our airbnb host has offered to provide us with a transfer to the airport and we gratefully accept a ride as he hurtles through the streets of Madrid and gives us some background information on some of the financial pressures being felt in Spain currently.
Our flight takes around two hours and lands us at London City Airport where we’re able to catch the DLR and Tube to Paddington where we’ve booked in overnight before our flight home to Australia via Abu Dhabi. It’s been a great few weeks with plenty of experiences and learnings.
Now, home to reality.