Madrid welcomed us in a funny way, wind blowing trash in our faces as we trekked with our heavy backpacks to our Airbnb in the Lavapies neighborhood. Coming from the small city of Seville, Madrid was a culture shock of urban living and crowded streets. It took awhile to get adjusted, but eventually we settled into the city and found the city's diverse neighborhoods to be alive with delicious food, shops, and people. Also, lucky for us, most of our time in Madrid overlapped with the San Isidro Festival, which meant nights of continuous outdoor concerts in the Plaza Mayor, celebratory parades, and on our very last night in Spain, fireworks in Retiro Park to bid us farewell.
We stayed at a loft in Lavapies, a multicultural neighborhood that reminded us of San Francisco's Mission district. Staying in Airbnbs for our entire trip was one of our favorite decisions since we could make ourselves at home in local areas and experience some pretty cool spaces too. Our Airbnb in Madrid was a colorful, airy space and came with an adorable handmade pocket-sized Madrid travel guide put together by our host, which we carried with us throughout our stay.
Churros y chocolate! Once we discovered that the famous Chocolateria de San Gines, home of churros y chocolate, stayed open 24 hours, it became our nightly pit stop. It was the coziest way to end our days of walking and heat by dipping deliciously fried churros in thick dark chocolate.
We escaped the mid-day heat at the Reina Sofia, Madrid's modern art museum, one afternoon and took in the four giant floors of modern art. The highlight was seeing Picasso's Guernica and trying to decipher the abstract paintings together.
Retiro Park was a lush oasis in the middle of the city that we found ourselves wandering through multiple times throughout our stay and, if we had more time, I would have loved to spend a day laying out in the grass there! It also helped that our favorite tapas place in Madrid, La Castela, was walking distance away (cervezas and free tapas? umm YES). Besides the lake, where we watched people row boats and listened to John Mayer over the speakers on repeat (not sure why they were doing that), we stumbled upon the Palacio de Cristal, a glass palace with a gorgeous tapestry tent exhibit inside. I kinda loved it.
Federica & Co was on my list of shops to visit after reading that it was a "secret garden" filled with home goods...basically a "Jaclyn" store as M would say. When we finally made it over to the Salamanca district, a neighborhood of fancy shops, we searched and searched for Federica & Co and were led to a giant green door that didn't resemble a storefront. After realizing that it was a long holiday weekend, we returned the next day to the giant green door and found a tucked away garden filled with gorgeous home ware scattered through overgrown plants. It was so pretty and so worth the scavenger hunt to find it.
When in Madrid:
Eat / Drink: Cafelito (an adorable coffee shop that we visited twice!) | Rayuela | Chocolateria San Gines | Bar Benteveo (tostas piled with jamon and tomate) | La Castela | La Infinito
Do: Mercado de Anton Martin | Puerta del Sol | Plaza Major |Mercado San Miguel (touristy & crowded, but filled with gourmet food) | the Royal Palace | Santa Maria Cathedral | Reina Sofia Modern Museum | Barrio de Salamanca (stroll through the fancy shops) | Retiro Park | Petra Mora (a beautifully designed gourmet food shop) | Federica & Co.