Onto Madrid

Travel days are always interesting. Part relaxing, part stressful, never fully in one place or the next. We took our time heading out of the apartment, took the metro down towards the train station, and rocked up at a cafe to enjoy a coffee and pastry. After a bit, we wandered over to a park next to the station and sat in the shade until it was time to board the train.

We are missing out on something back in the states, and that is good transportation infrastructure. Here we took a bullet train that sped along at 300/kmh and crossed a distance of almost 400 miles in less than three hours! Can you imagine going from Minneapolis to Chicago in three hours! On top of that, the train station was super efficient, and we only had to be there about 15 minutes before departure. And the train was spacious, comfy and had a food car. I’ll take a train any day over a plane!

Arriving in Madrid, we took the metro across town to our Airbnb, which had a much easier checkin process than our last one. We settled for a bit, then decided to head out to explore Malasaña, our neighborhood. It was again quiet, that is until we reach its center, where it was bustling with people just starting out for the night.

We eventually made our way to Mercado de San Ildefonso, one of the coolest food halls I’ve ever visited. It was three levels of food stalls, seating and bars. There were 25 options to choose, from Vietnamese stir fry to Colombian arepas. Eli chose Korean chicken and rice, while I tried some paella.

After dinner we made our way slowly back to the apartment, where we did a bit of laundry and finally fell asleep.

  • The dragon
  • Chillin
  • Food hall!

We started our first full day in Madrid at a coffee spot in our barrio that is definitely one of my favorites ever, Toma Cafe. Super charming with plants everywhere and excellent coffee.

When I booked our Airbnb, I had yet to explore our city options, and we truly lucked out with this location. Malasaña is the hippest neighborhood in Madrid, and most of the shops Eli wanted to check out are in this neighborhood. So we shopped for a few hours, grabbed a brunch of ham and cheese crepes, then shopped a bit more.

The sun was starting to wear us out a bit, so we returned to the apartment to rest and refresh ourselves for a bit. Eventually we decided to check out the city cable car, Teleférico de Madrid. It doesn’t offer nearly the stunning views that the gondola in Barcelona does, but it was still a good look at Madrid.

Post ride, we rocked up at a cafe for a late afternoon refresh. A couple of cokes and an Aperol Spritz, with a few small tapas went down easy as we just relaxed and enjoyed the day.

Later in the evening we headed up to Templo de Debod for sunset. This Egyptian temple from the 2nd century, was rescued from certain destruction and relocated to Madrid when the Aswan dam was built in the 1970s.

After enjoying the sunset, we headed in search of dinner, making our way to La Musa, a wonderfully inventive restaurant blending tapas with flavors from around the world. We tried out the elevated croquettes, Peruvian ceviche, and calamari. All were delicious. Throw in a gigantic gin and tonic, and it was an excellent way to end our day.