Experiencing Spain was all about texture and detail. Everything is so rich and colorful, from the bite-sized tapas bursting with flavor to the geometric motifs of mudéjar architecture. Madrid is an exquisitely beautiful city, not in a grandiose way like Paris or Vienna; it feels more understated and accessible, yet on closer examination has incredibly fine detailing everywhere. I practically wanted to walk around with a magnifying glass.
This trip was jam-packed. Usually when I travel, I do most of my sightseeing during the day, have dinner and collapse in bed around 10pm. But Spanish cities are the place in Europe for nightlife, making for busy days followed by vibrant nights.
This trip was highest on the experiential scale, so I’m trying something different and writing a four-part series on each day, rather than one massive post about the whole trip. ¿Vale?
Day 1: Feasting from the Get-go
J and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, with an ambitious plan to have a quick round of tapas and see the Thyssen Museum (for short; otherwise, the Thyssen-Bornemisza) before it closed at 7pm. It seemed doable, especially since places in Madrid are open later. But the thing is, the tapas were so good that we never made it.
We went to Estado Puro, located on the same plaza as the museum—pricey but delicious. The most popular items on the menu have smiley faces next to them, and those emoticons do not lie. One smiley-faced tapa was the “ali-oli” potatoes with garlic and oil sauce and trout roe. These were so amazing that we ordered another round. By the time we finished eating, there wasn’t enough time for the Thyssen. If it were free, I might have gone anyway, but since we would have to pay, we decided to go the following day.
We headed over towards Puerta del Sol instead. It’s called Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) for good reason—the sun’s golden rays stream invitingly down the streets that radiate from its central square.
Near Sol is the Chocolatería de San Ginés, famous for churros with chocolate sauce. I’ve tried churros with dipping chocolate once or twice, and I like the idea of it better than the real thing. The chocolate sauce was delicious—I was literally lapping it up with a spoon—but I have to say, I don’t like churros. Still, I gave it a shot since I figure, when in Spain…
We then went out to Rivas Vaciamadrid, a suburb about thirty minutes outside the city, where we were staying. A has been staying at P’s place for the past few weeks, and he generously let J and I stay over as well. Better still, he hosted a barbecue that night to celebrate the completion of the project he, M and A have been working on. There were many kinds of chorizo (the multifarra was my favorite, as expert griller J—P’s neighbor—recommended), pork chops, bread, manchego cheese, salad, chocolate-covered strawberries, mojitos and wine. We ate well on this trip.
*Shoutout to P for being such a generous host, J for grilling up delicious meats, M for amazing mojitos and A for hanging with us (party.) So many unforgettable experiences!