Hola Madrid! – el final

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)!
  • If you didn’t already, also check out The Crazy Tourist’s 15 Best Things to do in Madrid.
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The strangest thing we ate during our trip was this ham and fish crostini.  The menu listed something about salmon and so I was completely horrified to see this arrive at our table.  In my head it looked like those tiny fish were alive and about to crawl all over me!! ahhh….I am having nightmares just thinking about it! Devang was brave enough to taste it and I eventually gave in as well. I closed my eyes and took a bit.  The fish surprisingly tasted like cheese! It was very very good….but dear lord, I could not get past the look of it!
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Too bad that Arjun feel asleep during prime Churro time but we sure had a lot of fun indulging in this must have at Chocolateria San Gines! I let Asha play around with the camera to keep her from eating too much of the hot chocolate and churros! More for us!!!

 

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Arts appreciating at Reina Sofia.  The museum is so huge and has lots of interesting pieces that even kids would love to see!

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Our hotel apartment had a tiny kitchen and though we never cooked, it was nice to have an extra set of “toys” to keep the kids entertained.

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Portraits by Asha.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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