Recently, I have had a bunch of visitors here in Madrid and it has been amazing! However, when you have visitors, what do you show them? Where do you go? When do you go?
After living in Madrid for the last few months, I think I have become immune to some of the things that used to seem really different to me. Things like, taking the metro, eating dinner after 6pm or cooking with a pressure cooker weren’t the norm, until now.
So, here’s a list of a few things that I like to do as a “tour guide” when people come visit me here in Madrid.
Tapas and drinks
My whole life revolves around food, so clearly forcing my friends and families to eat loads of tapas is my number one priority while they visit me in Madrid. However, when friends visit, you can’t just show them any tapas or choose random bars and hope for the best. No no. Think of it this way, their first homemade croquetas, their FIRST tortilla de patatas, their FIRST EVER TINTO DE VERANO! Now, don’t get me wrong, I like 100 Montaditos for cheap pre-made tinto any day, but If your friends and family spend $1,000 on a flight to come visit, do your research and show them the good stuff. They can’t leave Spain thinking that tapas are only montados, olives or potato chips and that tinto comes pre-made! Oh, Sangria shouldn’t come from a box either! With my visitors, we went to Pintan Tapas, as well as some other amazing bars around madrid!
Beans, beans and more beans. I love beans. Lentejas (Lentils), Cocido Madrileño (Madrilenian(?) stew), Fabada (stew), Judiones (big ass beans…that’s a direct translation), I think the list goes on forever because the Spanish love beans and I love the Spanish because they love beans (ok, that’s not the only reason)! In my family, we don’t cook with a pressure cooker, at all. I don’t know many (or any) Americans who do. So when it comes down to beans, we make refried beans from a can, baked beans from a can, and homemade chili…again, using beans from a can. Here in Spain, they use dried beans, soak them in water over night and then throw them in the pressure cooker with many different forms of cured ham and magic, you have some sort of bean stew! After all this bean talk, you can clearly tell that my family and friends got to enjoy some stews while here in Spain!
From the street, it’s hard to get a good view of Madrid, make sure you find some sort of terrace to take your guests to! I think any bar would be great! I usually like to go up into the old correos building in Plaza de Ciebeles. I also like to go to the Gourmet floor (floor 9) in the Corte Ingles in Plaza Callao. Also, learn what the tops of the buildings look like so you can show your friends all the places they’ve been! From the Corte Ingles in Callao you can easily see the Palacio Real, the Almudena, Opera, the tops of the four corners of the plaza Mayor and many other things, including the newly reinstated Tio Pepe sign in Sol! (During Christmastime you can see the top of the Christmas tree in Sol too!)
Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a sports fanatic, nor a fan of bull fights, however, they are a big part of Spanish culture. Soccer and bulls that is. So, why not join the crowd? Who wants to be an independent when you can join the Frente at an Atleti game or go to Las Ventas to see a bull fight? Soccer is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, thing that unites Spaniards, but, bull fights, not so much. Bull fighting seems to be up in the air, people love it, people hate it, people don’t care. I personally think that if I’m willing to eat the meat, wouldn’t it be hypocritical to be opposed to watching the animal die? It is what it is. Anyways, immerse your friends in something Spaniards love, (even if you don’t love it yourself) so that your friends and family can get a better idea of what Spanish culture is all about!
Any town that is within a couple hours could be great for a day or weekend trip! With my mom and Aunt we took a train for a day trip to Segovia, with my sister we went hiking in Cercedilla and with Sophia we spent a couple days in Valencia. Any of these trips are easy and worth your time if you have it! Don’t forget your cochinillo in Segovia (we went to a restaurant called Lazaro off the Plaza Mayor, I highly recommend it!). Lastly, enjoy some agua de Valencia while in Valencia!
Really, there are so many more things to do, these are just a few! What kinds of things do you like to do when you are showing your friends around the city? To be honest, with all said and done, my favorite thing to do is to just walk around the city. The beauty of Madrid never ceases to amaze me and I love to share it with others! I hope you share it with your friends and family too!