It’s been a week since we got back from our whirlwind vacation to Madrid, Spain and off the bat I have to admit that this was perhaps one of the most exciting yet exhausting vacation our little family has ever taken! When we booked this trip almost 2 months ago we thought the weather would be ideal to roam the city streets . I pictured Asha and Arjun just running around in the many many gardens and fountains all around Madrid while Devang and I sat on the sidelines drinking our sangria and eating jamón.
Well, we did get to partake in my little fantasy but not as often as I would have liked. Madrid was going through a bit of a heat spell which meant that we had several days when the mercury hit over 100 degrees. While in the past, it wouldn’t have stopped Devang and me from exploring the city, with little kids though we had to rethink our strategy. Our solution was to entirely skip trying to adjust to the local time in Madrid which is 6 hours ahead of Raleigh’s Eastern Standard time. This meant that we slept in till noon-ish. Had a leisurely lunch/breakfast in our apartment hotel over the next hour or so. Then it was off to the pool or to an indoor museum (of which there are many in Madrid) or to see the Turtles at the Atocha train station. By the time we were truly out on the streets the sun felt a little less intense and we were able to do what we love to do most, just walk and wander around. On many days we logged between 12 and 14 miles – all of that pushing a stroller with two kids – up and down the hilly streets – a bit of a workout it was. We’d hit the bed exhausted around 2am.
To get to Madrid, we took a nonstop flight from Charlotte. After what I think was one of the smoothest check-in process ever, we hung out at the international gate with lots of rocking chairs and space for kids to get their wiggles out. Asha and Arjun did just that making their next 8 hour inflight experience a little less painful. We landed in Madrid just in time to see the sunrise. That airport by the way is truly gorgeous and in hindsight I wish we had taken a bit of a break there to have some coffee and let the kids run around some (next time I suppose). Getting to the city from the airport is pretty easy via the Renfe train which is what we did.
For anyone who has been to Spain before, you might not think much of what I just said above. For others, who are possibly wondering what in the world can you do with kids that late at night, then let me just say that instead of feeling like tourists or outsiders, we blended in with the normal local lifestyle which apparently doesn’t frown on kids playing in playgrounds well past 11pm. We frequently saw families with kids at all hours of the night. So in that aspect, I am glad that we were in Spain in a culture that welcomes kids as part of the fun! Many of the playgrounds were right smack in the middle of a square surrounded by outdoor cafes. I don’t think it can get any more convenient than that.
One can’t talk about Madrid without taking about tapas and all the delicious food it has to offer. Our favorite spot at all hours of the day was the Mercado de San Miguel which is an indoor gourmet food market. The prices are great and the variety is even better. Asha found an ice cream vendor in there that sold tiny ice cream cones and I can’t tell you how excited she was to have one each night. Other than that, we stopped at whatever restaurant we happen to be passing when hunger struck. In most cases the food was fine even if not always exceptional. It was nice to have Devang with me who speaks a bit of Spanish and saved me from looking totally clueless. Most of the time, I’d let him order something and then when it was my turn, point my fingers to him and say “dos por favor”.
On one of the truly hot days we were walking along the River walk which is beautiful but lacks any shade. I was hungry and that in combination with the relentless heat caused me to – let’s say – act out. The closest thing to us was a French bistro and we headed in for a meal. The food ended up being good and since Arjun was asleep we got to eat without having to run around chasing a toddler. I felt so much better and of course also a bit embarrassed at acting like a kid. I am so thankful that Devang is not the type to snap back. He is a problem solver and feeding me was the solution. = )
Thank you for sticking with me and reading along. This post is massive and I just realized that I have only gone through about a third of our trip. I promise to bring you more in parte duo. Hasta luego amigoes.
In the meantime, if you have been inspired to plan a trip to this great city – with or without kids – start your search at The Crazy Tourist’s 15 Best Things To Do In Madrid. I found the article more informative that all the other lists I came across and it really will get you excited for your trip!!
Until next time! Adios!