Quite a lot of radio silence on the blog lately sorry – I’d like to say it’s because I’m terribly busy and important, but really I’ve just been lazy and intimidated by the backlog of photos from our Spain trip. Until now! Let’s start where we started – in Madrid. It’s been a few weeks since we got back and I am struggling to remember details, so this might be photo-heavy and text-light (probably a good thing).
Although we had three full days in Madrid we headed out of town on day trips on two of them, meaning our Madrid sightseeing was pretty rushed. We managed to get a bit of walking in around the Parque de El Retiro to the east of the city, and the Palacio Real de Madrid and Catedral de la Almudena to the west. We were happy to have such a nice day for the first day of the trip, and elated when this kind of sunny 15 degree weather held for the whole two weeks… remind me again why we moved to Scandinavia instead of Spain?
Our walking itinerary was largely dictated by food stops, and in particular a trip to Sobrino de Botín to have some suckling pig. Founded in 1725, they’ve had a long time to perfect their cooking methods and it definitely showed.
I love how everything came served with the gravy slopped everywhere – it was somehow simultaneously a very proper but very unfussy restaurant.
We didn’t quite get the hang of tapas while we were in Madrid, but we did hit the neapolitans and croquettes hard. We had less success with the slightly underwhelming churros, having to wait until to Seville to truly get the point of them.
Don’t think I’d leave you hanging without another instalment in the popular series ‘Ant shopping for meat products’.
We were also sucked in by some crazy lines at a calamari bun place, but were left with an overwhelming sense that it could be improved. Apparently this is a traditional snack to eat while Christmas shopping, and the queues were intense for something that we felt ultimately needed butter, if not tomato sauce (we basically wanted to turn it into a squid-based chip butty).
We brutally learned the hard way that even in the off-season, it pays to pre-book your tickets to pretty much every major attraction in Spain. We thought we could just saunter in to the Prado and see some art at our leisure but the lines mid-morning were insane. We eventually managed to get in without wasting time queueing by going at around 5pm – the Prado has free entry from 6-8pm every day, and by 5pm the free entry line was already stupidly long but the paying queue was basically empty… our gamble that most people won’t pay for something that would be free in an hour paid off, though it was a little galling. In the end we decided it was totally worth it to see the lunacy of Hieronymus Bosch – he was really onto something (or at the very least on something) in the 1400s.
Hmmm, what else did we do… we stayed in a cool atmospheric neighbourhood, Malasaña, and had some really excellent Mexican food at Punto MX. We also saw some great art at the Reina Sofia, including Picasso’s Guernica. It was very moving, although unlike every other travel blogger known to man, it did not make me shed a tear in a moment of deep and poignant personal reflection. I don’t think I can ever call myself a real travel blogger on the basis that I was dry-eyed while viewing Guernica…
What DID nearly make me cry was the really quite trying temporary exhibition we also saw at the Reina Sofia, on the recommendation of a random American woman in the line ahead of us when we bought our entry tickets. Marcel Broodthaers very nearly broke my spirit, but other than that Madrid was pretty fun. We probably didn’t give it as many days as it deserved, but it still treated us pretty well… plus they have this sweet bear statue. The End.