Welcome back to My Madrid, a new series here on the Madrid Food Tour blog in which bloggers from Madrid and all around Spain tell us a little bit about what Madrid means to them. We love hearing about other people’s Madrid favorites, and who better to ask than a bunch of adventurous bloggers?
Today’s post comes from Josh, who moved to Spain at the tender age of 23 and now calls Granada home. It is here where he has developed an ever-growing appetite for Spanish food, culture, lifestyle and Spanish as a language. You can follow his adventures, misadventures and everyday expat musings at spainforpleasure.com or his part-time travel endeavors at cheekyjaunt.com.
Hi Josh! So, tell us about your experience with Madrid.
I’ve never lived in Madrid. I’ve only visited twice and both of those occasions were far too short-lived. I spent most of my time wandering the colorful Lavapies bario and consuming vast quantities of curry-based tapas and beer buckets– also in Lavapies.
Well that doesn’t sound half bad! How was your first impression?
Unfortunately it was raining the first time I visited, which sort of put a dampener on things. However, I always think a bit of rain makes for a true test of a city’s character; if you still enjoy yourself despite being soaked to the bone then you know you’re on to a winner. I enjoyed myself enough to go back several months later when, thankfully, it was no longer raining.
What is one thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?
Visiting El Bernabeu. Even if you’re not a football fan or you prefer Barca to Real Madrid, it is worth seeing, even just for the stadium tour. I am yet to go to a game, but I am told that the atmosphere is incomparable to that of English football matches. El clásico or the Atlético Madrid derby is the dream fixture for every Spanish football fan.
Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?
My favorite and most memorable experience– on each of those two occasions I have visited –is simply ambling around the Mercado de San Miguel– an indoor food market in the city centre. Since I have lived in Spain I have become something of an olive obsessive, and I have never tasted better than at the San Miguel market. They were enormous and stuffed or skewered with all sorts of other savory flavors, from jamón serrano to creamy Izbores goat’s milk cheese. All of my favorite experiences are usually to do with food.
We love the Mercado de San Miguel, too! In fact, that olive booth is a stop on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour!
Now, how about your favorite Madrid meal?
Menu del día. Paella for starter, lomo/pescado a la plancha for mains and either a lemony yogurt or fruit salad for dessert.
What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?
One ideally planned by a local, and a local who you can trust. That first experience in Madrid was slightly blemished by the hasty and regrettable decision to sign up for an organized bar crawl. As tourists with no friends in Madrid (at the time) we really had no clue about where to go– and this was before I used blog posts as a reference for EVERYTHING – so the idea was a last resort. Huge mistake. We were led to the crappiest, showiest bars, given the most vile shots to drink (included in the €10 sign-up fee) and then made to wait for anyone who had paid €10 extra for a free bar tab whilst our ears were ruthlessly humped by the most tedious Spanish chart music imaginable. And it was raining outside (which wasn’t there fault but I blamed it on them anyway). So yeah, hook up with a blogger or open group on CouchSurfing and let them take you out…
Favorite day trip from Madrid?
So many options here. If I had to choose, which clearly I do, I’d go for Segovia. On a nice day, there aren’t many other better sights in Spain. The ancient Roman aqueduct is a vast, imposing example of architectural brilliance, and the food, at least when I went two years ago, is to die for. There I go again with the food, which, to be completely honest, is great everywhere in Spain.
Words of wisdom! Thanks so much, Josh! Let us know next time you’re in Madrid and we will set you up to redeem your rough first night out. With the right guidance, it’s almost impossible to have a bad time in Madrid!