Among the southern capitals of Europe, compared to Paris and Rome, my encounter with Madrid was really pleasant. I already know that Spanish people are friendly, and Madrileños seemed even friendlier than usual. Everybody was more than eager to give directions – with or without actual knowledge of the location – and once I got a piece of paper stuck in the sole of my shoe on the street, a middle-aged woman actually kneeled down to help me remove it. I was starting to suspect the government is paying the citizens of Madrid to be friendly to tourists.
Of course it is always a pleasure to travel with a native speaker who takes care of the talking. Our hotel OneShot 23 on Calle del Prado was modern and comfortable, easy to reach from the airport by taxi, and offered all kinds of favors from room service and event tips to luggage supervision. Air conditioning and a power shower were an absolute plus in + 30 and more degrees. It was warm but not too hot to walk around in the city, taking full advantage of several shady plazas and terrazas for refreshment, such as the terraces of Barrio La Latina.
Very close to our hotel were two restaurants we enjoyed a lot: a local tapas chain, Cien Montaditos, with a delightful and affordable selection of tasty tidbits, such as tiny bocadillos and crispy chicken wings; Lateral on Plaza de Santa Ana served excellent fish ceviche made of corvina, and our favorite drink turned out be fresh tinto de verano instead of traditional cañas. One of the culinary highlights were gambas a la plancha at Plaza Mayor under a refreshing mist sprayed on the customers on a hot, hot day. Moving on to the area of Chueca, the food market Mercado San Antón with its alphabetically organized types of tomatoes and many other quality ingredients was nothing but eye candy even if we couldn’t down another bite.
Since we were in Madrid for a few sunny days only, we had to choose just one of its abundant museums and decided upon MAN, the archeological museum i.e. Museo Arquelógico Nacional. I particularly enjoyed the ceramics and tiles collections all the way from the 9th to 19th centuries, and we were lucky to also attend a temporary exhibition of the Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes, Frigate/Fregata Mercedes that sank in a battle with the British navy in the gulf of Cádiz in 1804. They’ve been able to save and return to the museum in Spain an amazing amount half a million pieces, of gold and silver coins that lied under the waves more than 200 years and nearly fell into the arms of a private company, Odyssey Marine Exploration.
We didn’t have time to see Prado, the great art museum, or the royal palace from the inside. Two very good reasons to visit and travel blog Madrid again! We did, however, spend a classic breezy evening enjoying huge, naturally flavored gin tonics on top of the Círculo de Bellas Artes up where all the amazing night pictures of Madrid are taken. I can truly recommend visiting the center: entrance only costs 4 euro per person, and the view is unique in Madrid. Be sure to reserve a place in the chill-out lounge for a truly luxurious retreat.