Preparing for… Madrid!

My first 2018’s gateway will be in only 3 weeks, destination: Madrid.
Since EasyJet opened new routes from Berlin Tegel, my Wishlist got bigger than I planned and full of new ideas for some short vacations around Europe.

I am trying to learn a little bit more about Madrid and put together all the tips and recommendation I got from friends, Facebook groups, city guide to live the best of city – even though I will be there only for few days.
I will travel solo this time and stay in a hostel (not sure if it’s a good idea, but… I really want to push my limits and experience something out from my ideal and comfortable situation) – which will be in the city centre, on the metro line 1.

MADRID, The Monocle Travel Guide Series
At the Soda, a pretty hip library in Berlin Rosenthaler Platz, I found the Monocle’s city guide and after reading some pages I can say I am fully satisfied about my purchase (it was a Laura’s gift actually! ❤ ).

According to Monocle’s, Madrid has an amazing food and culinary scene, which I am more than excited to explore. I am a real food lover: I literally LOVE exploring some places through their bistros, small restaurants, food markets and cafés. I am quiet influenced by the Berliner style, where the heart of the city is mainly in its coffee, food and drink places. So I’ve learned that one of the best way to discover a new place is to discover its food side.

The Monocle’s guide dedicates 20 pages to the Madrid’s “food and drink”. I was trying to read them while going to work last day and I ended up feeling completely overwhelmed by such a huge number of great food places.
I shouldn’t be that surprised: Madrid is the tapas’ capital city and its gastronomy scene is itself the biggest attraction there. Fabulous! I already know I’ll like Madrid 😀

They list more than 30 restaurants and bistrot and further coffee places, street food market and cocktail bars.
This is more or less my selection – considering that I will be on a low budget and I’ll be there for only three/four days:

Restaurant or Bistrot:
Circo de las Tapas, Malasana, a perfect easygoing tapas places maybe for my first dinner or my first lunch in Madrid.

Federal Café, Conde Duque, a cozy coffee place run by two Australians who fuse the Australian breakfast tradition with the Madrid’s vibrant culture. Perfect for my first breakfast in the city!

Ana La Santa, Las Letras, a botanical/radical chick/minimalist restaurant that reminds me a fusion between the 25 Hours Hotel Berlin and the Bonanza Cafés. It looks a lovely place where to stop for lunch and enjoy some good sun – if it ever will be some!

Muta Bar, Chamberi, a small, urban, street-food-like bistrot represents the perfect kind of place for those who are visiting the city and only need a short food break. It’s a fusion of Brazilian (<3) and Balearic tastes. I am soo curious!

Casa Fidel, Malasaña, described as: “popular with locals at breakfast, the cooking comes into its own later in the day with regional specialities served with Spanish hospitality”.

Mama Campo, Chamberi, it’s partially an organic food market and partially a coffee place. The intern design is woody and colorful, exactly what I need now, coming from a grey Berlin.

El Barril de Las Letras, a perfect place for my big love: seafood. Can’t wait to go there and try some fish-tapas.

Coffee Specialities
Toma Café, Malasaña, a fancy coffee place with a cute bubbling design on the wall, reminding me some hip café of Neuköln, but with a colourful touch that makes them a little bit less grumpy… 😀

Rooftop time
Azotea del Circulo, Cortes, the terrace of the Circulo de Bellas Artes, with a breathtatking view across Madrid. It has been recommended by my ex flatmate, originally from Madrid!

Food Markets
I don’t want to miss any of them. My plan is to dedicate a tour or at least couple of hours at the street markets in Madrid every day.

Mercado San Miguel, I think it’s one of the most popular one. Then El Huerto de Lucas and Mercado de San Idefonso.

THE NEIGHBOURHOODS
It seems like Madrid is full of great things to do and visit. Every neighbourhood has plenty of option: cafés, bars, tapas places, things to visit and to spot. It’s not easy to understand exactly what’s the heart of each area: the Lonley Planet Madrid’s guide is comprehensive but it might result a little bit overwhelming if you only have few days to visit the city.
Looking around some blogs and articles about Madrid’s neighbourhoods, I definitely got a better idea about what is most characteristic on each area.

Malasaña, the hipster area of Madrid, Las Letras (Huerta) for some Literary Cafés and night life, La Latina, popular and cheap tapas neighbourhood, Lavapiés, for some street arts and authentic Spanish sides, Chueca, Madrid’s LGBTQ+ neighbourhood and Sol, where the main city’s attractions are located, are on top of my list.

Some of my resources:
A day in Malasaña, by Lonely Planet’s blog :

Culture Trips’ trendiest neighbourhoods in Madrid

Matador Network’s 6 coolest Neighbourhoods in Madrid

WHAT TO VISIT?
I really want to explore Madrid by getting lost in its streets and small, hidden local places. I won’t have enough time to visit all the museums and all the beautiful architecture and design hotspots, but I would definitely visit El Prado and Reina Sofia museums, especially because two hours before the closing time the entrance is free! I am looking forward to visiting El Parco Retiro, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Gran Via and the Ermita de San Antonio (so highly recommended by the Lonely Planet’s guide).

I got very curious about the Atocha Station, that has a kind of tropical urban city inside the train station. It must look incredibly cool. I got also very excited about the Madrid Rio, an alongside river park that has been built recently, a green space inside the city.

I am planning to spend my Sunday there as a real Madrilena, going to the flea market at El Rastro, then going around the Retiro park and end the day drinking a Vermouth and enjoying some tapas around La Latina.

I have read many great things about the Flamenco scene in Madrid, something I definitely want to experience and also about the nightlife in the Barrio Huerta, Malasaña. I am curious about the Mondo club, with some electronic music and interesting location. Let’s see if I’ll be able to handle both a touristic and nightlife rythm… (More likely I won’t…!)

CAT’S HOSTEL MADRID
I will stay at the Cat’s Hostel, a “party hostel” in the centre of Madrid. I’ve just realised that the Hostel is a “party” hostel and that detail makes me a little bit scary… but as I’ve written at the beginning of the post, I need to be shaked a little bit by some new experiences, situations and environment, so basically I will try to positively embrace everything that will come on this vacation. I would love to get in touch with other solo travelers, if any, or to know some people around the city and maybe go outside together and have some fun. I won’t specifically look for it, but if it should happen, I’ll be happy to connect and do some nice things together with new people.

BIKING OR SUBWAYING MADRID?
I was thinkin about to biking a little bit around Madrid. It’s not gonna be warm enough to enjoy some nice bike tours, especially during the night and early morning, but as I experienced in Amsterdam and Berlin, biking around a city is a lovely way to explore some hidden corners. I will check the rent prices and see if it’s worth it to take a bike for few hours during the day!

I also read that there is a special Pass for 5 days that costs 26€ and allows me to travel with almost all the public transports in the A zone of Madrid. Is not a bad price, cause it also includes the Airport transportation fee.

Needless to say I couldn’t be more excited to visit Madrid. Some people told me that the city is not that attracting as it seems, but I can already feel all its good vibes and vibrant atmosphere. I have a fully good feeling, the impression that Madrid will offer many thrilling opportunities in different fields: art, culture, design, food, life style… I am a big fan of the European capital cities and I can’t wait to be there and see how my experience there will concretely look like!

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