June 13, 2011

Destination: Madrid

We have the cutest little tapas restaurant in our neighborhood, Si Tapas.  They have the best tapas happy hour which boasts $2 tapas plates and half price sangria.  I can't get enough of the Si Tortilla (it's basically a potato and egg omelette) and the Montadito de Casa Lucas (pork tenderloin medallions placed on bread and topped with caramelized onions).  We'll get more into specifics in another post.  All of this to say that while booking another Europe excursion, we thought we would plan a 23 hour lay over in Madrid to take a peek at what the city has to offer.  Boy, we weren't let down!

We checked into the Hilton Madrid Airport hotel and hit the town.  I loved the contemporary style of the hotel.  Our room was roomy and the bathroom was incredible.  So glad we stayed there!  

We had our cabbie drop us off in front of the Plaza Mayor.  The square is full of, well people, shops, and restaurants.  One thing that stood out to me was the number of apartments for rent on the top floors of the  square.  Could you imagine living in one of the most famous historical sites in Spain??  That would be so much fun!!

We left Plaza Mayor in search of the infamous Museo del Jamon, Museum of Ham.  These locations are numbered and dotted around the city.  Each location is set up like a combination deli/meat market and cafe.  You can order ham by the KG or turn around and stand at the counter and enjoy a sandwich and beer.  Fabulous!

Our favorite place in the city was Mercado de San Miguel.  The market is packed with plenty of wine, sweets, and, yes, JAMON!  We ordered some Iberico ham sliced right off the leg and walked to a square to enjoy it.  Magical!!

After the mercado, we headed over the Palacio Real de Madrid.  This was my first royal palace and I was certainly not disappointed!  The grounds were so spacious and grand.  I particularly like the black and gold accents placed throughout the exterior.  Of course, we couldn't snap pics of the interior, but just picture marble, tapestries, rugs, and grand furniture.

The next stop was the Plaza del Sol.  This outdoor shopping area is extremely lively and crowded.  The area is filled with high-end as well as bargain shops, street performers and people looking to spend their Saturday outside.  I thought the area was really fun.

Lastly, no trip to Madrid is complete without a tapas crawl!!  We hit a few places and had some tasty tapas.

Tapas style burger & fries -- notice the fry on the stick!!

After we were full of tapas and wine, we had churros & chocolate at San Gines.  The cafe is tucked into a seemingly back alleyway behind a retail shopping area.  Once you've followed the windy walkway, you are transported to one of those cafe experiences that only a place like San Gines or Cafe Du Monde can offer you.  This was certainly the highlight of our One Night in Madrid!!
Dunking these churros in the chocolate is FANTASTIC! The chocolate is so thick that you have to use a spoon to eat it!!

Do you have any suggestions on a "lay over" city we can tack onto our next Euro trip in September?  Any other Spain recommendations??

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