Tapas, Sangria, And Siestas: Ari’s Report Card for Madrid, Spain

Hello! Welcome to the start of my series of posts about my Europe trip.

I personally do not believe I stayed in any destination long enough to fully tell people what they can and should do, so I am taking the approach of writing a report card for every destination I went to. I will begin every post with an overview of everything I did. I will also be posting short blog posts about random topics such as ranking desserts and Mcdonalds and how I packed for a month in a carry-on.

What We did

  • Explored Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor
  • Walked Retiro Park
  • Dined at the oldest restaurant in the world (Sobrino de Botin)
  • Day-tripped to Toledo, Spain
  • Sightseeing in multiple tourist locations in Madrid (Royal Palace, Gran Via, Lavapies)
  • Ate, ate, and ate some more!(One day was basically a food tour of Madrid… we went to so many restaurants and bakeries)

Report Card

Beauty B+

 

 

 

I want to start off by saying that I thought Madrid was beautiful in a very unique way. Since this was the first place in Europe I visited, I thought the colorful architecture and the historic buildings were fascinating and not at all what I am used to back in the states. Some of the places I found most beautiful were all the plazas and large gathering areas like Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. However, the place I would list as number one in beauty would be El Retiro Park. I am a sucker for a good park, and this park definitely checked off everything on the list. It was massive, there were areas that you couldn’t even see Madrid, so it was an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, it had a decent sized pond, there were cafes and food options, and there was a crystal palace that was stunning. All of El Retiro’s features came as a pleasant surprise and if you are heading to Madrid, I 100% recommend it.

Transportation A+

 

 

 

The primary way we traveled in Madrid was by their public transportation trains and I could not be more impressed with their system. It was easy to use, clean, fast, affordable, and offered a convenient schedule for all hours. I had a few friends that were studying abroad in Madrid and where they lived was just one stop away on the metro, so we truly rode it at least 20 times. To get to Toledo, Spain, we took a public transportation bus and it had free wifi, large seats, and was very comfortable! Overall I have no complaints with our means of transportation in Spain!

Accommodations A

 

 

 

We chose to stay in an Airbnb. We were in the Lavapies barrio of Madrid and it was an eclectic, old, artistic area. Colorful murals covered the majority of the buildings unlike the very ‘touristy’ area of Sol, and the diverse population made it more interesting. Our Airbnb was under $100 a night and slept up to 4 people. It had two private balconies, a kitchen, a washer, and the host was very responsive and kind. Throughout the whole Europe trip, this was one of my favorite places we stayed. The one tiny negative about this place was that there is no AC, but that is extremely common in Europe, so it is not a big deal. If you are interested in seeing where we stayed, click here.

 
 




Affordability A

 
 
 

Madrid was one of the most affordable places I traveled to in Europe. One of the best parts about Madrid is that a lot of places offered a special lunch menu that was typically cheaper than everything else on the menu. So basically we would go to a restaurant and order from the special menu and get a first course, a drink (wine, beer, or soda), a second course, and a dessert or coffee all for 10-15 euros. Public transportation was also affordable; we purchased a tourist pass for 5 days, so we could ride the public transportation as much as we wanted and we paid about $25 for it. I spent a lot of money here because we ate out a lot, but truly I have nothing to complain about with prices.

 
 
 
 

Overall rating A-

 

 

 

Madrid truly was a sight to see and I believe it was a wonderful start to my month in Europe. The positives were endless and the only negative to me was how hot it is (I am an avid hater of the heat), but it was literally summer, so again it is not a big deal!

 
 
 

Want more information? Feel free to message me on any media form and I would be happy to discuss!

 
 
 

Continue reading down below for some honest answers to questions from the people I was traveling with!

 
 

Ari: One of my favorite memories was when we went to a local tapas place (Cuevas) that Ellie, Kirsten, and Sarah would go to during their semester in Madrid. We had so much sangria and margaritas and it was the first night in Spain, so it was truly such a fun way to kick off being in Europe.

 

Ellie: “Fave memory is going to cuevas. A place I love filled with people I love and catching up and laughing is just so sweet! I feel like we all let ourselves be fully present and it was fun to have a true Spanish tapas experience with everyone:-)”

 

Kathryn: “favorite memory was literally like anything we did TOGETHER. Like even just navigating the subway together or going to the grocery store or going out to eat. experiencing everything as a group just heightened my enjoyment of the overall trip. but yeah cuevas was awesome but my favorite mem was probably going to that wine store in toledo and speaking spanish 😤😤😤 toledo was like exactly what i pictured spain to be like and it was so peaceful and beautiful like a painting. loved it”

 

Corey: “I liked going to Grama Lounge and getting Venezuelan food”

Ari: 100% my favorite was my meal from the bakery La Mallorquina in Sol. I would have an espresso with milk, a napolitana de chocolate, and a croissant with jamon and cheese. And all that was only 8 euros!!

 

Ellie: “Napolitana Chocolate from La Mallorquina will always be my favorite thing ever. Any time of the day is the right time for a napolitana chocolate. (I also love croquetas if you mean like real food). And the zumo de naranja obvi”

 

Kathryn: “sangria!!! i got to try it for my first time in madrid at cuevas!!”

 

Corey: “The charcuterie board Ari made in our in Airbnb. The charcuterie board had fresh strawberries, jamon, manchego, gouda, baguettes, and we paired it with wine from Spain.”

 

Ari: El Retiro Park was my favorite!

 

Ellie: “My favorite thing I did in Madrid was probably touring the La Tierra Calma vineyard and winery. To do a wine tasting with a Spanish couple that runs the company and to hear their stories and passion for their business was amazing. Truly a once in a lifetime experience, and definitely the best wine I’ve ever had.”

 

Kathryn: “Fav thing we did in Madrid was probably going to El Retiro Park and walking around. so peaceful. No schedule, no stress, just enjoying the park and each other’s company and people watching and taking pictures. loved it.”

 

Corey: “Walking around Sol and Lavapiés on foot and seeing the cool architecture.”

 

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