Good morning Madrid!
After two days of traveling, it’s nice to have a permanent home base for the next three days. No screaming babies or missed flights.
As we collect ourselves for the morning, the three amigos head downstairs to a small cafe for people watching and coffee.
My brilliant and dedicated friend, Anita, has been working her a$$ off for a Global MBA from the IE Business School which home base is in Madrid. With 15 months of intense course work behind her now, I am proud to say she graduates tomorrow.
While she completes her last day of classes, her husband, my husband, and I take a minor trip around Madrid before she can officially join us to relax after graduation.
Not only during this trip are we celebrating my friend's graduation but today my husband and I celebrate six years of mawage. Princess Bride anyone?
As we walk along the narrow streets of Madrid, I’m reminded of how much I love traveling and how unique the world can be outside of our tiny rabbit hole. We head to our first destination of the afternoon, El Parque Del Buen Retiro.
Also known as the Park of the Pleasant Retreat, it is one of the largest parks of the city. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. We walk into the main park entrance and see a man-made lake with couples paddling boats and enjoying the beautiful day.
As we sit down to energize our bodies at a small lunch spot, across the way a saxophone player serenades us to the song of “Yesterday.” I order one of my favorite Spanish foods, Jamón Serrano. Pairing it with manchego cheese and a coke, it goes down quite nicely.
The breeze off of the lake is so pleasant that a tank top, shorts, and flip flops are all you need this time of year. The temperature stays at a comfortable 85 degrees with no humidity. Something we rarely see on a consistent basis in Virginia.
Continuing to walk, we come across the Palacio de Cristal, a glass and metal structure built in 1887. The Crystal Palace was built in the shape of a Greek cross and made almost entirely of glass set in an iron framework on a brick base, decorated with colorful ceramics across the bottom exterior. The original purpose of this interesting structure was meant as a greenhouse, however, it is now turned into an exhibition space for art.
Fair warning, if you do go by and check it out, don’t use the bathrooms! Almost a glorified porta potty with the trapped air and gases down in the bottom of the building.
We continue further into the park and catch a street performer. As I get closer to the creature, I was hesitant to snap a photo without the zoom and maintained my distance. I mean have you seen the movie Predator? If you haven’t, let me just say it doesn’t end well for the majority of the characters!
Throughout the park are all kinds of vendors, many with handmade items for negotiation and purchase. One piece caught my eye and I had to get it.
Before we headed to the central point, I was made aware earlier in the day of an interesting statue located in the park titled, “The Fallen Angel.”
This statue is arguably the only public statue in the world dedicated to the devil himself. In my mind's eye this creature would be grotesquely depicted with the body of a reptile and the head of a serpent. Who wants to imagine the devil looking like themself? But true to the story of Lucifer falling from Heaven he was an angel before his fall from grace.
Built in 1877 by the Spanish sculptor Ricardo Bellver, it was inspired by John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost. What’s especially interesting is this sculpture sits at 666m above sea level. As controversial as this work of art is, it won First Medal at the Spanish National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1878.
Everywhere you walk in the park people are relaxing on blankets either reading, eating, or sleeping and why not. If I lived here I would definitely make sure my siesta was taken at this park.
After a couple hours of exploration, we leave to our next destination, El Mercado de San Miguel. All around are tall colorful buildings that allow beautiful flora and fauna to grow up the side adding a touch of natural beauty to these old man-made structures.
Inside the market we are met with tons of options; seafood, tapas, beer, olives, fruit, jamon, vegetables, desserts, and anything else you could imagine! The smells filled the location of each individual tienda with all walks of life enjoying the variety of the offers. I purchase a sampling of olives with ham and cheese along with two grape leaves. My compadres try the fresh strawberry juice and raw fish options.
We grab an Uber and head back to the apartment to meet Anita. At this point she is finished with her classes and we are ready to get dressed to head out for tonight’s events.
Our first stop of the night is at a delicious restaurant, Marina Ventura, with one of Anita’s classmate from Columbia, Manolo. Now you have to understand, Manolo is a foodie so anywhere he suggests you have to go and he doesn’t disappoint with his suggestions. Dinner here is usually eaten around 8 or 9 pm and the sun doesn't set until later so to me it feels earlier than it actually is.
Vino, vino, vino! With almost every meal I've had here, I've enjoyed a glass of wine, vino tinto or vino blanco. Tonight we ordered a bottle of vino blanco with an appetizer of foie gras. I’ve never tried foie gras before but this trip is about a lot of food firsts for me.
The foie gras was paired with a gingerbread miniature cut of bread, a side of balsamic vinegar to spread or a rose jam. I tried both and as much as I enjoyed the two options, the balsamic was my favorite.
For our meal we shared two paella entrees; one seafood themed with shrimp, mussels and sausage and the other a duck with wild mushroom in truffle oil.
If you know me well, I can drink coffee any time, day or night and the coffee here is incredible. I end my delicious meal with a cafe con leche.
After dinner we head out to meet Anita’s colleagues at Fortuny which offers both an outside and an inside area for conversation, drinking, and dancing.
We begin our late night adventure in the outside part conversing and catching up with the students of the IE Global MBA program talking about the final day of classes and the excitement of graduation finally happening for them tomorrow.
After short conversations, everyone eventually makes our way inside where the music is pumping. There's definitely not a lot of sleep happening here in Spain for us travelers since the disco-tech doesn't close until 5am.
Ladies and gentleman, the one thing I can be absolutely sure of, we definitely don’t party in the states like they do here. Bueno!