Lately, I have been reflecting on past trips I have taken. Specifically, the trip I took March of 2019 with my mom, aunt, and cousin. The main goal of our girls’ trip was to visit another cousin who was studying abroad at the time. It was my first trip to Spain, and I will always cherish the fun times we had during this girls’ getaway.
While we can’t travel anywhere fun right now due to COVID-19, it is still nice to daydream about the adventures we can take once the world resumes its normal hustle and bustle. In this post, I will be sharing a little bit about my time in Spain, along with some travel some tips if you plan to go there once we are allowed to travel again!
During our time in Spain, we traveled to four cities over the course of 10 days; Toledo, Seville, Cáceres, and Madrid. While I was pretty sure I would love Toledo and Seville, I wasn’t as sure about how I would feel about Madrid. But, as it turned out, I found myself swept up in the history and culture of Madrid, and I left wishing I could have had a little more time there!
Madrid was the last city we visited on our trip to Spain, and by this time we had gotten a pretty good rhythm down. Our travel routine was becoming a well-oiled machine. Upon arriving at town our group would check into our Airbnb, and then head out on foot to get our bearings (and likely find a Sangria).
During our time in Madrid, we stayed near Plaza Mayor. After getting settled we started our explorations in the Plaza Mayor, checking out all the restaurants with their inviting patios surrounded by dozens of cute shops. As with any tourist town, the pricing here was a little steep. Despite the prices, the Plaza Mayor is a great spot for some walking and enjoying a perfect Sangria.
Later that day our group took a guided walking tour. This was a tour that my aunt found on Airbnb and coordinated for us. *Pro travel tip, Airbnb isn’t just for booking places to stay. This service also provides hundreds of activities and events for you to enjoy during your travels. After walking to meet our guide we were treated to a wonderful tour that took us off the main tourist path. Participants were given the opportunity to learn a lot more about the history of Madrid and see some impressive street art.
After a day of travel and a lot of walking, my family and I decided on a quiet dinner, wanting to rest up for the activities we had planned for the next day. The next day was our only full day in Madrid. We started our full day in Madrid with a tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid, and it did not disappoint. The palace has 1,450,000 sq ft of floor space and contains 3,418 rooms. The lawns and gardens were beautiful, and the overall size of the grounds was extremely impressive.
The Royal Palace is the largest functioning palace in all of Europe and is the official residence of the Spanish royal family at the city of Madrid, although now only used for state ceremonies. Since the Palace is still considered a home of the Royal Family, photos aren’t allowed once you enter the building. Although I can’t share photos from the tour, the décor was absolutely beautiful and well worth the wait to get in and see!
After our tour we headed to Mercado San Miguel (or The Market of San Miguel in English) is a covered market located in Madrid, Spain. This is one of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful markets, within early-20th-century glass walls and an inviting space strewn with tables. Originally built in 1916, it was purchased by private investors in 2003 who renovated the iron structure and reopened it in 2009. Mercado San Miguel is located in the center of Madrid and is within walking distance from Plaza Mayor. The market is not a traditional grocery market but more of a gourmet tapas market, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods, and other foods. Beer, wine, and champagne are also available.
If you take nothing else away from this post, know this: Mercado San Miguel is a MUST SEE, and go hungry! This market is a foodies paradise. Unfortunately, none of us were very hungry when we arrived, but we all wished we were because all of the food there looked amazing! Within the market, there were a few shops as well. At one of these shops, my mom was able to get some fresh and exotic spices to bring home.
Upon leaving the market we decided to hop in a Tuk Tuk to head over to Madrid’s El Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro) which translated to English literally means the park of the pleasant retreat and is one of the largest parks of the city. Looking back, we all agreed that choosing the Tuk Tuk over walking was one of our better decision on the trip!
The weather was beautiful, meaning the park was pretty busy, but still, there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and admire the beautiful gardens. The park is 350 acres of green space at the edge of the city center, very close to the Puerta de Alcalá and not far from the Prado Museum. This breathtaking park is filled with beautiful sculptures, monuments, and galleries, as well as a peaceful lake. The park is host to a variety of events and is considered one of Madrid’s premier attractions. At the time of our visit, we were too early in the year to see many of the flowers blooming, but the fountains and ponds spread out throughout the park more than made up for the lack of foliage!
Madrid is a beautiful, vibrant, and fun city that everyone in our group enjoyed. We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our time in Madrid since as a group we tend to gravitate towards smaller cities. I have enjoyed reminiscing over my time spent there and now am getting the itch to book a trip back to this beautiful country to discover more of the history and culture Spain has to offer.
Author for the Hunkiedorië team and sharing my experiences with you all! Some of my favorite things include traveling, adventures with my two dogs, craft beer, cupcakes, and time with family and friends. I love getting out and trying new things whether that is a new restaurant, workout, recipe or a new business.