My family took an almost 4-week trip through Europe. First stop, Madrid, Spain.
My young teen succinctly characterized it as “hot, stinky, old, and ham and cheese”. After 7 days, he got a good feel for the city. This would not be a top summer destination for him, but, never the less, an excellent choice for our family reunion with my in-laws who live on the Canary Islands.
From my adult perspective, I would describe it as a city rich in history, grand architecture, abundance of art museums, and, yes, hot. And, ham and cheese — jamon y queso –everywhere. Of course, the city has all modern amenities. A 7-day stay in this big city gave us a chance to experience more than just the tourist destinations.
I would highly recommend our hotel, Jardin de Recoletos. It is centrally located and a great starting point for many of our walks through the city. Walking is the best way to explore Madrid and many other European cities. The hotel is a quick jaunt to Retiro Park, perfect for evening walks. Large rooms compared to typical sizes throughout Europe. Excellent restaurant food. Dinner served outdoors in a small garden. Efficient and friendly front desk staff. Quiet side street off of Calle Serrano, where all the designer shops are located. One negative — restaurant staff need to learn about service!
Here are the highlights of our stay. Our kids’ ages range from 11 to 15 years old, which I feel are old enough to appreciate old cities rich in culture.
– Retiro Park (lots of strolling through shaded paths, snack bars, people watching, playgrounds)
– Museo del Ferrocarril (for fans of old trains and model trains)
– Real Fabrica de Tapices (very low key, no crowds, but fascinating short guided tour of how tapestries are made)
– Museo Reina Sofia (modern art museum houses Picasso’s huge black and white painting, Guernica, which many experts claim is his greatest work)
Photo credit: The Guardian
– Casa Patas (excellent, authentic flamenco in a small venue)
– Museo del Jamon (not so much a museum, more of a popular eating place where you stand squeezed between locals enjoying their jamon y queso sandwiches and other tapas, like pulpo)
– Segovia (easy day trip from Madrid showcasing Spain’s largest Roman aqueduct — amazing!)
Other memorable experiences included a necessary visit to a “lavanderia”, laundromat, to wash our clothes. Totally automatic with signs in English and Spanish. A snack at the Chocolateria de San Gines for the must-eat churros and thick chocolate experience. Of course, unfriendly and incompetent waiters at many restaurants. We longed for American service.
Next stop: Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy
If you would like help on your next trip to Madrid, please send me an email.