Regular G Spotters will know that I like to go ‘on tour’ to locations outside NI and report back on places of interest. Although nobody believes its work, (!!) I like to share a few ideas or tips to make life easier for you if you go. One of my favourite trips this year was Madrid and I was very excited to check it out considering every time I mentioned I was going most people asked if there was room in the suitcase to come with me!
So being the capital of Spain, a former city of culture and third largest city in Europe after London and Berlin, I knew Madrid had a lot to live up to. That was about the extent of my Madrid knowledge, well apart from knowing the name of the city’s football team. I’m usually a woman with a plan, even on holiday, but I decided I would let the buzz of the city decide on what I should do.
Being a sun worshipper I needed to book a hotel with a pool – something that is not commonplace in Madrid but definitely worth it once the heat got up. We stayed in the Emperador Hotel on Gran Via. It had a great central location, in one of the main shopping/entertainment areas, incredibly friendly staff, and we stayed in a beautiful room on the fifth floor with a window that opened right over the hustle and bustle of the busy street below.
These were definitely the benefits as was the breakfast, toiletries provided in the room and the roof top pool with split-level and as many sunbeds as you can shake your selfie stick at. However, it didn’t open to 11am, which was my only gripe but it did stay open until the sun went down which is good if you like a holiday siesta.
Believe it or not, but it was actually cloudy for the few days we were there (not the norm) but it did give us a chance to get out and explore. Madrid is the place to visit if you are a culture vulture. I did cheat a bit with the help of a hop on hop off bus – which was an easy way to see the city if you are in a hurry (we had 2 days). It has elegant sweeping boulevards, galleries filled with works from Spanish greats like Goya or Velázquez, pristine parks nestled amongst stunning architectural masterpieces.
Don’t get me wrong, although full of history, the city marries it well with the fast-paced excitement of a major city. In fact it would put you in mind of New York with thralls of people as far as the eye can see, street style that belonged on the cover of Vogue and a cuisine to keep you eating a different menu every night. Who am I kidding? There was no getting me away from the tapas that Madrid is famous for – is it the tapas capital of the world? Well this could be an urban myth but it should be true.
No trip to Spain is complete with a bit of flamenco – I used to learn it when I was in school, but resisted the urge to get up on the stage. After much scouring online reviews that day, we went to Villa Rosa as it offered music and dance, but stayed away from the cuisine side as it didn’t look like something I wanted to eat. It was definitely one of the trip highlights especially if you can get up close and personal at the front.
My drink of choice was Tinto de Verano – Sangria to the uneducated. Not sure why, but it always tastes better on holiday than in my front garden!
Although we had a real whistle-stop tour, we managed to pack in enough to want to go back to sample some more of the Madrid magic. It’s definitely one of those cities to put on your bucket list or ‘lista de cubo’ if you want to get down with the natives! …Ole!
Spotting local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com