With the weather turning decidedly chilly it’s bittersweet to look back at photos of trips to sunnier climes. I had intended to write this post weeks ago, but the photos were on several devices and technology hasn’t been my best friend lately…well that, and also another trip abroad took my attention elsewhere! Anyway, let’s rewind a couple of months because at the very end of the school Summer holidays we managed to squeeze in a long weekend in Madrid.
It may be hard to believe, but I had never been to mainland Spain before. Travelling to somewhere for the first time, especially a big city, presents all sorts of sartorial dilemmas, well it certainly does for me! Deciding what to pack when you’re trying to travel light is never easy for me. I’d checked the weather forecast in the week leading up to our trip so I knew it was going to be hot…and I mean really hot. In some ways that made it a little easier but I still needed to be stylish and comfortable in the heat.
I had intended to take only hand luggage, but a few days before leaving we made the sensible decision to take a case for the three of us. This proved to be a wise decision, but it also tempted me to over pack. With hindsight I should have just taken the lightest, coolest clothes I had because the temperature was in the mid to high 30s! I travelled in jeans and some new silver slip-on Fitflops, but the heat made my feet swell up quite badly so I ended up wearing my red and white FitFlops during the day. They are the most comfortable flip flops I’ve ever worn and I was so glad I’d packed them.
We stayed with a friend, who we’d only actually met IRL once…the power of social media! We met our lovely host and friend Raphy almost eight years ago when I was pregnant with Isobel. Raphy briefly dated a friend of my husband’s and they came to Nottingham (where we were living at the time) for a football match. We met for dinner that evening, and as I’d just had my first scan we broke the happy news to them. It turned out to be quite a memorable night because throughout the course of the meal my back seized up and by the end of the evening I could hardly walk! We stayed in touch on Facebook, and all these years later Raphy finally got to meet the cause of my backache and abstinence from alcohol. The two of them hit it off straight away, as I knew they would.
As soon as we arrived we got changed and headed out for lunch, followed by a trip to the Parque de Atracciones – a massive amusement park for kids that has all the usual fun rides…think Alton Towers only with better weather. I tried several different outfits on before deciding on a pale blue skirt from Warehouse and a black vest that I’ve had for ages. The skirt is a lovely lightweight and cool material. I bought it especially for the trip in a little House of Fraser shopping spree. We did a lot of walking around in the sweltering heat and my usually comfortable Clark’s gold wedge espadrilles were rubbing my toes a little by the end of the afternoon. That gave me the excuse to sit out a few rides and have a rest under the shade of the trees. I actually bailed out of the roller coaster ride at the very last second, much to my husband’s amusement…I’m such a coward! I did manage a genteel boat ride though 😉
We left around 6pm – just as all the Spanish children were arriving. The park is open until 10pm, and of course it’s cooler in the evening. Later on we all went out for dinner which was delicious. The seafood dishes were simply divine. I could really get used to all that yummy food and Cava!
On the Saturday we went out sightseeing (after a dip in the apartment block’s pool 🙂 ) and headed to the Mercado San Miguel for lunch. It’s the most spectacular food market selling a vast range of delicious nibbles. Unsurprisingly, it gets exceptionally busy and table space is limited, but it’s definitely worth the hustle and bustle. We tucked into fried and salted asparagus and peppers, anchovies and tortilla..with a nice glass of Cava of course!.
The frozen yogurt was too good to refuse…especially when topped with caramel sauce and chopped nuts!
The famous Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue.
This White Stuff dress (similar) was so comfortable I wore it two days in a row for sightseeing. The jersey material is lightweight and doesn’t cling, yet still creates a flattering outline. Oh and it has pockets too 😉 I’m never without my trusty straw hat from Matalan in the sun…it’s clocked up some airmiles over the years! Later that evening we had dinner at Ramses Life overlooking the magnificent Puerta de Alcalá.
We kicked off Sunday with brunch at the Bernabeu Stadium (Real Madrid’s home ground). I have to admit that I’m not a football fan but it was still a fabulous touristy thing to do. The food was good too! Afterwards we did more sightseeing, with a boat ride around the lake in Retiro Park followed by a visit to the Prado Musuem. Top tip: admission is free Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 5 pm to 7 pm. Don’t be put off by the very long queue – it moves very quickly.
To finish off a fabulous weekend we had dinner at Azotea del Circulo, a rooftop restaurant and bar. Again, the food was wonderful. I’d go back to Madrid in a heartbeat. The city is clean, there are plenty of free things to do and the weather was great. Oh, and if you love Zara and Mango (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) the prices in Spain are significantly cheaper than in the UK. We managed to squeeze in an hour of shopping and I picked up a gorgeous military style jacket (which I’ll be featuring on the blog soon) and a cute little bag which I’ve worn here.
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