Summer City Break: Madrid

20170708_Madrid_Day2_0022After three great days at Mad Cool Festival we had a few days to explore Madrid before heading on to Portugal for our next city stops.

We headed straight for the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Cathedral which faces the palace across the plaza. 20170709_Madrid_Day3_006120170709_Madrid_Day3_0072The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest royal palace in Europe with 2,800 rooms. We explored about 23 of them on the ticketed tour and that was a long trek!

It certainly felt huge. We spent most of the morning looking through the throne room, crown room and the Royal Armoury which is all worth seeing.

We then walked up to the Egyptian Temple of Debod. The temple was originally from Aswan in Egypt and had to be moved for the Aswan High Dam to be built as it would have flooded. It was gifted to Spain supposedly to thank Spanish archeologists who had helped to save monuments in Egypt. 20170709_Madrid_Day3_0185The temple sits in a big park so we stopped for a while to have a picnic and read our books in the sun. It was weird to see an Egyptian Temple in such a different setting, but nice to know it was gifted to Spain. There is an Egyptian obelisk in Paris that, according to our bike tour guide, the Egyptian government keeps asking to be returned.

We then met back up with Harry and Jodie at the rooftop bar of the San Anton market. We had a cocktail as the sun set but it was a bit too trendy for us so we decided to move on.

We ended up going on to Muniz, a tapas bar Harry and Jodie had found earlier. We spent the evening drinking beer and eating so many tapas while celebrating the birthday of the bartender. 20170709_21472120170709_214619Muniz was a little family run bar on Calle Calatrava in the tapas district. If you do find yourself around there, pop in for a local tapas experience.

After finishing up at Muniz we decided to try one of the ‘best’ tapas bars as recommended by The Guardian, El Tempranillo. We managed to squeeze in and order some Spanish wine which was served with delicious Iberian ham. This was a much fancier place than Muniz and had much more of an atmosphere. This bar is on Calle Cava Baja which seemed like a whole street of tapas places.

On our last day in Madrid we got up early and headed for Buen Retiro Park which was calling out to me as a huge green space on the city map. But before taking off on the Metro we stopped for a quintessential Madrid snap, in front of the Bear and the Strawberry tree in Sol plaza. 20170710_Madrid_Day4_0012We had a gorgeous morning for the park and wandered as long as our legs would take us, feeling righteous for getting up so early on holiday.

20170710_121249^^ practicing our selfies.

We were a bit obsessed with this ornate tiled seat, too. #poser

For our last meal in Madrid we met up with Harry and Jodie to have a giant omelette at La Buha. Ben had been recommended this place by a colleague before leaving and I got a bit obsessed with trying it.

There were about 10 options to try off the menu and we chose a caramelised onion and cheese omelette. It tasted amazing but being filled with potato and served with a side of bread, even four of us didn’t get through it.

With full bellies we said goodbye to our flatmates and headed out to the airport to fly to our next stop, Lisbon, Portugal. I’m glad we spent some time in Madrid, it’s not as flashy as Barcelona but definitely worth a weekend break, if only for the delicious tapas.

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Madrid & MadCool Festival

20170708_222623It’s so nice looking over photos of  our summer holiday while rugged up in woolies and slippers. It’s making me so excited about what this year will bring for sure, I’m in full holiday planning mode. Bring on spring and summer!

But for now here is my recap of Madrid. We travelled here for the Mad Cool Festival in July 2017 with our flatmates Harry and Jodie. Madrid is not somewhere I ever planned on going, but I’m glad we did as it’s a great city and a great festival. Here is what we got up to..

Day 1

19756487_10154446159606222_4748958270739578986_nWe arrived to a storm in Madrid. As our taxi from the airport passed through the city, with windscreen wipers going hell for leather, we all looked at each other like ‘how it this going to go down?’ we had only planned for the sunny Spanish summer.

Although we ended up having huge rainstorms for all three days of the festival, the rain would always ease off around 6pm which is around the time the festival starts. Perfect! There was no Glastonbury style mud pits either as the festival is at a tennis complex all the ‘fields’ were actually fake grass over tarmac. No gumboots required!

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We started with so chilled out sounds from The Foals and the discovery that drinks at this festival were sold by the litre. Gulp! What is great though is that rather than using fresh cups for every drink they give you a lanyard to hold onto your cup and refill it at a discounted price. Such a good way for a festival to be.

We had a wander around, then Ben and I settled in for the night at the Foo Fighters who were headlining the main stage. Such a good show and great way to kick off the festival.

We regrouped after the Foos for a dance along to Kurt Vile and the Violators. Then hung around to see Catfish and the Bottlemen who were brilliant! I spent the rest of the summer listening to their albums. 20170707_021735

Deciding not to stay on for the closers Boys Noize we ventured out into the night. Although ended up wandering around for about an hour trying to figure out how to get a taxi then seeing the queue deciding to try our luck flagging one down just outside the festival area as taxis were on the way in. Dirty but it had to be done – we ended up doing it for all three nights of the festival.

This would be my only gripe about Mad Cool. They had buses you could book for the end of the event (at about 5am) but if you wanted to leave at a more reasonable hour (like 3am) taxi seemed to be the only option. A few more buses shuttling people to the city centre would have been helpful.

Day 2

After rain in the afternoon the sun came out hot!

Today we tried out all the little activities the advertisers put on including bull riding..

Trampolining!20170707_194056Today the headliners were Green Day and for me, they were the unexpected highlight of the festival. They put on such a good show and I forgot how many absolute tunes they have written throughout the years. Definitely see a Green day gig if you get the chance, even if you wouldn’t call yourself a fan.

Day 3

Today we discovered the Aperol tent and got free pairs of sweet orange sunglasses. I briefly switched to drinking an Aperol spritz then remembered that although I love the colour of the drink, I really don’t like the taste. I went back to Tinto de verano, my wine and lemonade combo I had been drinking all festival.

The Aperol tongue!

We chilled out in front of Wilco during the afternoon.

The headliners for the closing night were Kings of Leon. The put on a belter of a show but there is something I always find lacking in their live performances. They’re not super interactive and after Green Day the previous night they really didn’t measure up.

20170709_000546We closed out the night by seeing MIA. A big change from the mainly indie rock bands we had seen all weekend. She was fabulous! Owning the stage in a brilliant red suit!20170709_005936All in all great fun for our first European festival, and our first proper festival since Glastonbury.

We still had a few days in Madrid to explore before Ben and I moved on to Portugal. That’s coming next.