Day 2: Madrid

Day 2- my birthday! We started out the day by eating breakfast in bed (and enjoying the beautiful view and not quite too hot air that floated in). At around 10 a.m., James and I headed to the Parque del Retiro, home of the crystal palace. It was another 100+ degree day, which meant seeking out shade and rationing water.

The park itself is beautiful, and a pleasant oasis from the heat of the city. We strolled around, found the crystal palace, among other monuments, and took a page of the public yoga practitioners book and went barefoot in the shaded grass.

The crystal palace

There was an art exhibit going on at the same time which included a man meditating and laying around under the sheet tent behind me.


Overcome by the incredible heat, we eventually sought refuge in the Prado museum – which is filled primarily with religious works of art, because this is Spain afterall. Around 12:30 we started to fade and sought out the museum cafe where I proceeded to order dos tortillas de patatas, uno cafe con leche y uno te negro. Nailed it. Minus the fact that I forgot to order James milk for his tea, but we’ll take what we can get!

After being revived by refreshments, we tackled the rest of the museum and then headed to Celiocioso – the only gluten free bakery in Spain (or least the only one I found!). Their specialty? Cupcakes. I of course ordered more than I could eat, and picked up half a loaf of queso pan (cheese bread!).

We headed back to the apartment for siesta – which everyone seems to take seriously here. So I enjoyed my cupcakes with some bubbly while soaking my feet in the bathtub. The only true way to enjoy siesta.

James and I had tickets to tour the Royal Palace at 5 p.m. The security here was questionable. No one looked at our tickets. I set off the metal detector but the guards let me through when they realized I could only speak un poco espanol. Much different than our experience at Buckingham palace which required multiple scanners and check points.

The palace itself is insane. Each room was gorgeous. Over the top of course, but everything had a theme and was planned out very well. Almost every ceiling had a fresco. Art work was tasteful. The dining room was breathtaking, with a table that sat 130 individuals at a time.

After the tour, we headed over to Corral de Moreria, a famed flamenco spot. I was not expecting much in the way of dinner – this was a dancing establishment afterall. Boy was I wrong. The food was fabulous. We both ordered a tasting menu and had gazpacho, sea bass, lamb and chocolate. They brought me a whole pitcher of sangria which I barely made a dent in.

When we left around 10 p.m. the sun was still out. This is just so weird to me. How do people function here?! Clearly they don’t go to bed as early as I like to.

Day 1: Madrid

We made it! And to continue the tradition I started on my honeymoon, I’ve decided to blog our way through Spain as well.

The trip really started on the plane to Madrid. Departing at 5:40 p.m. in Boston meant arriving in Madrid at 6:30 a.m. local time. The last red eye I took with James was painful. Typically if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m the monster. When James can’t sleep on a plane we reverse roles. But this plane ride was extra special, because two rows in front of us – there was a two year old and an infant. Let’s just say that I was unaware that a child could literally scream for six and a half hours without breaking or working themselves up into eventual slumber. By the time the crew served breakfast (a mere three hours after dinner), I never hated a baby so much in my life.

We arrived at our apartment around 8:45 a.m. After being let in by a colleague of our AirBnb host (who spoke about three words in English – asleep, tired and no) we crashed into a wonderful two hour nap. This AirBnb is gorgeous and perfectly located. A studio apartment with a miniature kitchen, AC, beautiful view and full sized bathroom is perfect for our time here. 

After waking up around 11:30 a.m. we got dressed and headed out to el mercado de San Miguel – a famed tapas market a few blocks from our apartment.

Ordering tapas in Spanish, with a gluten intolerance was slightly overwhelming, but we came across some vegetarian paella and shrimp gazpacho – making my day much better – given that I had not eaten anything since 7 p.m. on the plane. James ordered “tres oysters.”


Completely melted at this point (it was about 100F), we found a grocery store, picked up some provisions and headed back to the apartment for siesta. We ventured out again to buy James a belt and shorts, both of which he left on the floor at home. But this okay because James loves clothing from Europe. Something about them that makes shopping tolerable.

Around 5 p.m. we headed over to the Real Madrid stadium for a tour. I would like to preface this by saying I am not soccer fan (though I have nothing against soccer). This tour was amazing. Attendees start by walking to the very top (painful) to be greeted by an amazing panorama view of the stadium.

This stadium holds 85,000 people. This is almost three times the size of Fenway park. And almost 20,000 more than Gillette.

We continued on our tour to see practically every trophy the team ever won (hundreds? maybe an exaggeration but there are a lot of them), soccer jerseys and shoes from 1910s and on, ridiculous holographic books that you can turn the pages on, a stream of gold confetti as the backdrop of the bigger trophies and more. When we thought the tour was over, we were surprised to find ourselves now on the field, on the benches that this team sits on when they aren’t playing. Benches? Oh you mean Audi sponsored memory foam THRONES. Yeah those.

It was really bright out.

The tour finished with the player’s locker room which contains a hot tub, spray shower stall and massage tables.

We had two hours to kill before dinner. I was starving, so we decided to do a little tapas hopping. Sadly, the kitchen of the place I chose was closed but I was able to order myself a glass of wine and water. Keep in mind I hadn’t had anything to eat since my shrimp gazpacho and it was around 7. We found a park and watched dogs play fetch in a fountain until our reservation at O’Pazo – a seafood restaurant.

Many of you told me that I would be fine, that everyone here speaks English. Let’s just say I am really glad I spent six months using Duolingo because I would be screwed (although I haven’t yet been able to ask… cuantos elefantes comen arroz?). I fumbled through ordering dinner – an English menu was only slightly helpful since most of the waiters didn’t speak it! I asked for a glass of rose. Or at least I thought I did. Wine here is so ridiculously inexpensive, that when they brought over a whole bottle, I was completely not ready for it!

To make me feel less like a lush, James had about an inch in his glass for show and tell. I took this sneaky picture to document this.

I was unable to drink it all.

For dinner, we shared a warm asparagus and tomato salad with a vinaigrette, grilled sole and grilled sea bass, and a side salad. Full to the brim, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, only to find that the sun still hadn’t set at 10 p.m.