After spending a week in Andalusia (Sevilla & Granada) we had finally arrived in the Spanish capital! We almost decided to skip Madrid and head to Valencia and Barcelona instead but I am glad we took the time, the city has plenty to see, and even more importantly plenty to eat!
Quick not before we begin, a special mention to the hostel we stayed at, ‘The Hat’ which was super nice and modern, very clean, quiet yet sociable if you want to head to the rooftop where even locals gather and mix in with the guests. We should know because we made friends with some locals who were celebrating their friends birthday there and they shared their drinks and cake with us! The Spanish are awesome
A walking tour is always a good way to get a feel for the history of the city while seeing the main sights. Most start in Plaza Mayor, a big square with your typical guy-on-a-horse statue right in the middle. There are plenty of overpriced restaurants around the perimeter of the square, but if you wait a little but, right outside is a lovely food market called Mercado de San Miguel.
They have many kinds of cuisines and serve everything from pastries, desserts, seafood and drinks. Mix-n-match and try everything if you can!
The walk will also probably take you to see the beautiful Basilica de San Miguel as well as Palacio Real de Madrid. Unfortunately I did not go inside the latter to my regret, though I hear it was amazing from Christine but they did not allow pictures so I could not see for myself. She described it as even more grandiose and extravagant than Chateau de Versailles, which I feel is pretty hard to beat.
After a little more walking around you will probably end up at Puerta del Sol which is the center of the Spanish road network – all roads lead to here. It is a busy open area which is surrounded by plenty of shops and restaurants and the like, kind of like the Times Square of Spain; this is where they hold their New Years Eve countdown.
A little bit further away from the city center is Buen Retiro park if you want to some downtime, it is pretty large so it is not hard to find a quiet place. If you like you can also rent a paddle boat and cruise across a lake.
While I was around I wanted to see some Roman Architecture, I am always fascinated by their engineering that was pretty much the blueprint for how modern cities are built. I came to see the huge aqueduct in Segovia as there are not too many lying around that are still in good shape. This one seemed perfectly fine after 2000 years and could probably still function today – that is some solid workmanship.
While in the town I also checked out the Castle, and while it affords a nice view of the countryside it is nothing too special. Overall a sleepy little town that has just enough around to do on a day trip. Grab some roast pork belly for lunch and you will be sweet.