Madrid Day 4: ¡Hasta Luego, Madrid!

Our last day in Madrid. We dropped off our luggage in lockers at Atocha Renfe, since we weren’t flying out til that evening and had a few more sights to see in between. The lockers are in the section of the station that has a beautiful greenhouse.

Trivia: I first learned about the convenience of European train station lockers in The Bourne Identity. I’m glad I finally got to use one!

Speaking of which, though we didn’t have any run-ins with assassins, we did run into some aggressive pickpockets. I’ve lived and traveled in a lot of major cities, but I’ve never had an experience quite like this—where a three-person group strategically maneuvered a caper to try to lift my wallet/other items. I’ll write this up in more detail in a subsequent entry, but thankfully J had a sharp eye and thwarted their attempt.

We went out to East Madrid to see the Plaza de los Toros de las Ventas, a 25,000-seater bullfighting ring with a really long name. We peeked inside, and you can just barely see the seats through the doorway. While we walked around the stadium, J tried to estimate how many matadors die in a year. We never reached a figure, but I’m curious. It’s probably a small number, though I imagine there are a lot of injuries.

Next stop: the Puerto de Alcalá, Madrid’s city gate. It was a gorgeous day, so we ambled through the Parque del Buen Retiro, which the gate overlooks.

P and A had been running a 10K in downtown Madrid that morning, and we met them afterward at the Mercado de San Miguel for tapas. I love the visual effect of this photo—the facade of the market is made of glass, but the reflection from the building across the street transforms it to brick.

After lunch: El Rastro, a Sunday flea market that was nothing much to write home about. I expected more, but after Portobello Market it’s probably hard to be impressed. El Rastro is in La Latina, an area that M told me is the place to be on Sundays. We took her recommendation and went over to Taberna los Huevos de Lucio to try huevos rotos—fried potatoes covered with fried eggs.

Again, I was skeptical. Red wine and coke? Fried potatoes and eggs? What kinds of crazy combinations do Spaniards come up with?

Ahhh…. this defied my expectations. Spain never stopped pleasantly surprising me, as you can probably tell by now.

In fact, we abandoned our plans of going to the Prado in the afternoon (it’s free on Sunday afternoons from 4-6) and went instead to La Negra Tomasa, where I’d had my first taste of heavenly flan two nights prior. Who needs the Prado when you can have more flan?

In sum, I loved Spain. It helps that I speak the language and can get by on what little I remember. It also helps that it was sunny and the food is delicious. And it’s just plain beautiful and full of life. I’ll definitely have to come back and see more of Spain sometime!

*Thanks M for the recommendations! When I plan my next trip, we’ll have to meet up. Maybe in Sevilla? :)


17 thoughts on “Madrid Day 4: ¡Hasta Luego, Madrid!

  1. I studied abroad in Madrid, loved seeing these pics. And…I used to live in London and tried to pack in as much weekend travel as I could. Fantastic for you!

      1. Amsterdam was great, also Vienna and Prague. Stockholm is really fun too. Outside of capitals which are maybe more obvious, Lyons is the “gastronomic capital of France” and the Croatian coast is really nice, especially with summer on its way…In England Bath and the Peak District are really pretty, we never made it to the Cotswolds but wanted to.

  2. yeah it’s ok you skipped the Prado (though it’s worth the visit)… out of all the big museums in Madrid, I always recommend the Thyssen. I’m so glad you enjoyed Spain. It’s true that Spaniards combine food weirdly (usually with jamon if you didn’t notice) but it seems to always work. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know, I should have just gone and been more adventurous in trying different foods! I only tried the huevos rotos because my friend insisted, and it was so good! The local know-how is always the way to go.

  3. I lived in Madrid my junior year of college, and I’ve never gotten over it. I know you’ll go back. A friend of mine said, “Es como una droga,” (It’s like a drug), and I have to agree! I took a group of students to Spain in 2004 and in 2007 so they could experience its wonders. I’d love to take another group, but with the economy the way that it’s been and airfare at an all-time high, it just hasn’t been feasible. It’ll happen, though! Meanwhile, I’m taking a group of students to Washington, D.C., and New York City this May for a 3-week writing-intensive class (News Reporting and Writing II). I believe that travel is the best education EVER. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed…and for living your dream! Cheers, Denise P.S. Don’t miss the Sorolla Museum when you return to Madrid. It’s a jewel. And San Gines’ chocolate. I don’t think you mentioned it. TDF.

    1. That’s so great that your students are getting exposure to travel and experience. Totally agree that it’s such a great way to learn. Will add the Sorolla to my list for next time. We did go to the Chocolateria de San Gines on the first day. Loved it! (The chocolate, if not the churros.)

      1. I’m not a churro fan either. Why fill up with those when you can fill up on dark chocolate?! I know you skipped the Prado, but you really MUST go, if only for Goya’s and Velasquez’s paintings and Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”. Plus, I strongly recommend the Reina Sofia. Picasso’s “Guernica” is there…and they always have outstanding special exhibits. Obviously, you’re going to have to go back many times. Lucky you! Cheers, Denise

  4. Did you see the statue of Lucifer in Retiro.
    i don’t know but they say it is the only one in the world. Makes sense, why would cities put up statues of the devil ;-)

    Nice blog .-)

  5. I think it’s safe to say that whatever wacky food combinations those Spaniards come up with is guaranteed to be good. I loved Madrid and your photos took me right to those long walks through the city!

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