• Travel

48 Hours in Madrid, Spain


 I was not really sure what to expect from Madrid as (for once) it was not me who instigated or organised this trip. My family had decided that Spain’s capital was the place they wanted to celebrate my auntie’s birthday and after a particularly busy few months I was more than happy to let them take the lead.

To save time I opted to splash out and join the suited and booted crowd at London City Airport. The journey was a breeze, hopping straight on the DLR from my office I arrived at the tiny airport with plenty of time to kill. Packed into the minuscule bar my bearded boyfriend and I looked a tad out of place in our ripped jeans, baggy t-shirts and rucksacks but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless.

I was not really sure what to expect from Madrid as (for once) it was not me who instigated or organised this trip. My family had decided that Spain’s capital was the place they wanted to celebrate my auntie’s birthday and after a particularly busy few months I was more than happy to let them take the lead.

To save time I opted to splash out and join the suited and booted crowd at London City Airport. The journey was a breeze, hopping straight on the DLR from my office I arrived at the tiny airport with plenty of time to kill. Packed into the minuscule bar my bearded boyfriend and I looked a tad out of place in our ripped jeans, baggy t-shirts and rucksacks but it was a pleasant experience nonetheless.
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London City Airport has a “no announcement” policy so we had to try and keep a watchful eye on the screens. One pint down we were feeling in the holiday spirit, got distracted and had to run to our catch our plane. Once on-board we had a smooth flight and was one of the best flights I have had with British Airways in many years.

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Arriving in foreign territory at night can be daunting, however, despite the vast size of Madrid airport it was easy to navigate and we managed to hop in a taxi with absolutely no fuss.

Entering the street we were to call home for the next couple of nights we drove past my slightly tipsy clan who were only just making their way back from a day out. Jumping out to an enthusiastic welcome we joined them for a night cap in their glamorous hotel, which was the perfect end to a surprisingly easy expedition.

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Leaving planning to the last minute, as usual we could not afford to stay in the same hotel as my family however we managed to get a lovely little Airbnb only a 3 minute walk away. Not as glamorous as the 4 star Meliá Castilla it was a cosy, clean, and had amazing views – so I was more than happy. Our host was also wonderful and reminded me of a Spanish Patsy from Ab Fab.

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The next morning we got up early to visit one of my favourite places whilst on holiday: the local supermarket. I know that sounds a little odd but I genuinely love perusing the isles and getting an idea of how locals eat. Dropping off our supplies we then herded the troops to get the metro into town.

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The subway system in Madrid was easy to navigate and efficient, my only complaint would be the use of the little cardboard tickets that seem to be popular in Europe. I know that this may seem like a moot point but I can’t seem to keep hold of tiny tickets for more than 5 minutes and always end up spending a fortune on replacements.

Achieving getting through one barrier with only one ticket we arrived at Madrid’s most central station: Vodafone Sol (yep the station is branded). The station lead us out to the city’s main square, Puerta del Sol, which reminded me of Leicester Square with monuments, fountains, tacky tourist attractions and plenty of streets spanning off this central hub.

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We made the decision to split, with Pablo and I choosing to explore in our usual style: taking the back streets and heading to up and coming areas, rather than following the tourist trail.

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Turning off from the main shopping area it soon became apparent that Madrid closes down in August as locals avoid the scorching heat by shutting up shop and heading to the coast for their summer holiday.

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Wouldn’t it be lovely if Britain took the same laid back approach to leave?

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Though I enjoyed having a walk around discovering areas such as Malasaña, I was left pressing my sweaty face up against windows peering into what seemed to be very cool independent, bars, shops and restaurants, desperate to go in.

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One surprising bonus of everything being closed was that most of the shutters were covered in street art.

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After browsing a couple of skate shops that were actually open, we stumbled across Mistura, a tiny handcrafted ice-cream and coffee shop which was the most delightful way to cool down.

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Despite there only being one staff member working he took the time to proudly talk us through the products, letting us sample each flavour; I eventually settled on caramel and coffee which I paired with chocolate brownie and hazelnuts.

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My ice cream was slathered out on a slab, a generous amount of topping was then placed in the centre and mixed to create my very own flavour combination. I have sampled many, many ice creams but this has to be one of my favourites with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and passion that can virtually be tasted as well as experienced.

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A quick trip to Sephora (and a siesta back at the apartment) I was energised and ready to meet up for a family meal before heading to one of the local bars to partake in Madrid’s favourite spirit, gin.

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A couple of those free poured, fish bowl sized drinks I was ready for bed, however my aunties had other ideas and celebrated by making friends with the locals before heading to a club much to the disgust of my younger cousins.

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Our last day was a quiet one, spending the afternoon in The Buen Retiro Park, which was an idyllic setting to spend some quality time catching up on our normally hectic lives.

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The park is the largest in Madrid containing museums, monuments as well as the great outdoors to keep visitor entertained. The attraction highest on my list was the Statue of the Fallen Angel, the only public monument to Satan in the world – which is exactly 666 meters above sea level.

IMG_0689Coming across it, almost immediately my family decided it was the perfect background for a group picture.

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Despite the weather being pretty overcast it was still hot so we had a quick stop to cool down at one of the many small cafes before heading off to find the Crystal Palace, which to be honest with you was a bit more like a large green house.

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Though the colourful tented exhibit inside was pretty, I was much more entertained by the pond out front which contained lots of cute little terrapins that sunbathed in a pile.

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I am a huge animal lover and even the bronze lions which were part of the grand Monument to Alfonso XII did not get away without a cuddle.

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The monument was situated on the edge of the boating pond which seemed like a perfect activity for family bonding.

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The boats were rented by the hour but a couple of circuits around the pond, splashing each other with water and realising that I was not going to be part of the Oxford vs Cambridge race any time soon I was ready to give up my oars early.

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Feeling tired from our little work out we relaxed with a sangria and a sandwich instead of taking on the rest of the park. This stop meant that we didn’t manage to squeeze in the Casón del Buen Retiro, which houses a collection of 19th and 20th century paintings, or the Ejército Museum, Spain’s foremost Army museum, which I was keen to see but I decided that spending quality time together was much more important.

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It is a rarity that we are all in the same place at the same time so Madrid’s sleepy period was a perfect place for my family and I to enjoy each other’s company without too many distractions. Though the trip was a more relaxed style than I am used to I still got a good feel for the city and now have a huge list of things to visit when I make my next trip (not in August).

If you would like to get a further insight into what Madrid has to offer I also have a video over on YouTube.

Have you been to Madrid do you have any recommendations? Is it somewhere you would like to go?

*Pictures by me and Pablo from Shed Collective

 

 

 

8 comments

  1. lilylipstick says:

    Such lovely photos. I visited Madrid at this time two years ago and all the restaurants I’d researched to go to were shut for the month! x

    1. Emma says:

      That was exactly the same as us but sometimes you have just got to go with the flow and not let unforeseen circumstances ruin your trip.

  2. adales8 says:

    I really like to browse the aisles in other places, so I totally get what you mean! I find food fascinating in every situation but especially in other countries. And I love that last photo of you! xx

    1. Emma says:

      Ha ha thank you that was my awful attempt at rowing face! I think I might be obsessed with food but I am glad that its not just me.

  3. Britt says:

    It’s always comforting to find other people who share your quirks – like visiting foreign supermarkets. I love wandering the aisles and discovering the different products that exist overseas – and I always make a point of trying a local chocolate bar, and a local soft drink (and a local flavour of crisps, if they have one).

    1. Emma says:

      I do exactly the same we come out with bags of random stuff that I would never even dream of buying in the UK

  4. profemaleblogger says:

    You look like you’re having so much fun! I’ve always wanted to go to Madrid but sadly it’s still on my bucket list. Would you say it’s too hot to go in August?

    Beth x

    1. Emma says:

      I would say give Madrid a miss in August as everything is closed due to the heat, but is I think would be an amazing city to visit at another time.

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