Devang and I had our first taste of Spain on our honeymoon to Barcelona in 2010. To be able to return to this beautiful country again with our two kids was nothing sort of an adventure!
I wanted to share some lingering random pictures and also some tips and final thoughts to help anyone else wanting to make a future trip to Madrid.
- If like us you are traveling with kids, let the hotel be your biggest splurge. It’s easy to save money on food and libations in a city like Madrid, but I wouldn’t compromise on a nice hotel in a great location. Our hotel apartment, Eric Vokel though extremely convenient on the inside, and in good location for most travelers, was a bit secluded for my taste. It was unfortunate to have two beautiful balconies that opened to an empty alley with no view! Next time, I would stay in one of the hotels by Plaza de Santa Ana.
- Temperatures are supposed to taper off in September, but know that there can still be a heat wave. Next time, I would book this trip later in the month or even wait till October. We had a few 100 degree days and it wasn’t too much fun to stay out with kids.
- Madrid, with all the fantastic things it has to offer, is still a city that you can see within three days. Our vacation was a total of eight days, two of which were spent on day trips to nearby towns. Next time, I will brave a longer train ride with kids and plan to spend less time in Madrid and see an additional city like San Sebastian or Seville.
- When it comes to food, it really helps if you know a little bit of Spanish. I was truly lost reading the menu on most days and even though the servers were nice, they didn’t speak english well enough to help me. I think this kept me from straying from the usual suspects during lunch and dinner and I missed out on a better culinary experience. That’s why Mercado San Miguel was such a favorite spot of ours because all you had to do there was point to what you wanted to eat.
- I felt extremely safe in Madrid at all hours of the day. Still, wandering around in Madrid isn’t the same as in other cities like Barcelona or Paris where everything seems charming, pretty, and historic no matter where you are. Madrid has it’s fair share of boring apartment and office buildings and we came upon them a lot!
- I wish I had spent time shopping for clothes. Everywhere I looked, women were wearing some of the most comfortable and beautiful clothes I had ever seen. Few times that I quickly stepped in and out of small boutiques, the prices too seemed so reasonable! And folks, no one in madrid has ill fitting jeans no matter their size and shape. It’s like a whole different universe where even homeless people where jeans that look like something especially tailored just for them; I was definitely very envious of this fact.
- If you find a Llao llao yogurt chain, immediately stop and get a serving! It is similar to Pinkberry but somehow better if that’s even possible!
- Definitely check out Toledo and Segovia which are just a stone throw from Madrid but so very different.
- Unlike Lisbon, Portugal, the cobblestone sidewalks in Madrid are smooth and it wasn’t too bad pushing a stroller around. But those hills…you can’t avoid them and it really did seem like we were always going uphill.
- For those who are up to it, I would even recommend flying into Lisbon, spending a couple of days there and then taking the night train to Madrid. I am a sucker for trains and wish I could have fit a night journey on it. There are other overnight train options too from nearby France.
- Check out the Costco at Calle Agustín de Betancourt 17…just kidding (not)!