If you can believe it, I had the very rare opportunity to meet one of my besties for a girls getaway to Europe in June. While I'm lucky enough to go on a girls weekend getaway at least once a year with my tribe, heading out of the country was out of the question until now.
First, my husband and I have 2 young ladies who have really busy schedules that require us to drive them around at different times of the day. While they are somewhat independent, they do still require a driver. As much as carpooling would help, it doesn't really help us that we are at the end of town, out of the way of potential carpool opportunities. Plus, being able to drive them around allows us some time to catch up on our days. Second, the first two weeks of our summer turned out to be pretty mellow in terms of commitments so it was a good opportunity for my husband to take a few days off to hang out with the girls and catch up on some home projects...we took our homeschool room apart so our girls could have their own rooms! He manages to make big transitions like this easy...like ripping a Band-Aid off. Third, , my friend, Eb, has traveled all over Europe for work and fun. Spain is one of her favorite countries so experiencing it for the first time with someone who speaks Spanish and is familiar with the area and lifestyle made meeting her there less stressful.
With that, she was the tour guide for the 3 whole days I was there. The day I left was a doozy because, as you might know, it takes ALL DAY to get there. Took an evening flight out of LAX and arrived there in the late evening at about 9pm, just in time for dinner in Madrid. We arrived at our cute place right in the heart of Madrid giving us the flexibility to walk everywhere we needed to go including our first stop, Taberna el Leon de Oro for jamon, cheese, and wine. It was just what I needed before dinner at Lamucca de Prado.
We started Day 1 with coffee at our place before heading to a breakfast of tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelette at Pez Tortilla. It's a small chain and believe when I say it was a very busy spot because it is so good. Most stood in small groups enjoying their meal if you weren't lucky enough to snag a small table. We grabbed a spot at the counter, people watched, and enjoyed our breakfast with small beers. Afterward, we walked it off by heading to Museo Nacional del Prado which, according to Wikipedia, "is widely considered to house one of the world's finest collections of European art" and "the single best collection of Spanish art." To our surprise, it also houses the earliest known studio copy of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa said, according to Wikipedia, be painted "simultaneously by a student of Leonardo in the same studio where he painted his own Mona Lisa, so it is said to be the copy with the most historical value." We spent most of the hot day enjoying the museum before heading out to explore the city a bit on our way home for siesta before dinner. My favorites were finding beautifully graffitied garages lining historical buildings and wide, tree-lined city sidewalks before ducking into little dive bars for a beer and snack break. If you're wondering, the patatas bravas at Taberna Chanquetes stole my heart (and my appetite!). It was the perfect pick-me-up and came gratis with our beers.
We started Day 2 with a lovely breakfast at Plenti cafe. I ordered the lox toast with one of their fresh squeezed juices while Eb opted for a slice of quiche and a coffee. It was simple, delicious, and gave us all of the good energy before heading to the Real Jardin Botanico where I couldn't help take a ton of photos of us and our surroundings. It was a cool, peaceful, relaxing spot amidst the bustle of the city. After spending the morning there, hunger for food and shopping hit us so we made our way on foot to Gran Via for some tapas and beer at Tapa Tapa Montera. The food was fine, but the people watching was incredible. This seemed to be a popular tourist spot being in the middle of familiar brands like Sephora, Starbucks, Uniqlo, and Zara. The best was coming upon the Adidas store which had the Sambas I'd been eyeballing for months! At the time, you couldn't get it in the States so you better believe I picked up a pair there since they had my size and I thought it to be the perfect souvenir. After siesta, we decided we were wiped from a day walking miles and shopping so we stayed just in our neighborhood for a casual Mediterranean dinner at Egeo Suvlakeria Griega. The chicken was so delicious.
We decided Day 3 was officially our souvenir shopping day with a trip to Mercado de San Miguel, a covered market offering local food and delicacies circa 1916. It was a feast for the eyes and appetite. We sampled everything from bao, fresh oysters, jamon, and olives before settling on an assortment of fried seafood for lunch, washing it down with glasses of white wine. I decided this would be the perfect spot to pick up Iberico jamon and sausages as my husband's souvenir where they so kindly vacuum-sealed everything for safe traveling. We walked all of the food off wandering through Plaza Mayor and catching dessert at the infamous Chocolateria San Gines known for their chocolate and churros since 1894. This definitely put me in the mood for siesta. Well...not really. In truth, since I never made the time, and we were headed to Paris the next day, so I decided to binge Bridgerton and it was SO WORTH IT! But all of that is for my next post...
Finally, our last meal in Madrid is a memorable one. First, it wasn't an easy reservation to get. We literally had our fingers crossed hoping to get in some time (any time!) before we left. And we did...we got in on our last night there and it was wonderful. Marina Ventura Restaurante is known for their many fresh seafood dishes, but we were there specifically for their seafood paella, made to order per person. It was the best I've ever had with a variety of clams, mussels, prawns, and squid in a perfectly cooked and seasoned rice. I'm not sure how anyone can order anything more than that as we were stuffed. It was so delicious I couldn't tell you what bottle of wine we ordered, only that it went with it perfectly. Thankfully, we walked home savoring each step on our last night in Spain.
(With all the walking and heat, you might wonder what I packed for this trip...check out the photos and scroll down for tips and links!)
What did I pack to wear in Spain?
Well...I didn't expect it to be so hot in early June, but temperatures were definitely above normal and you'll be lucky to come across any air-conditioning in these historical buildings. Things I considered when packing was how European airline carry-on limitations are smaller than for U.S. airlines, how versatile each piece was, and whether or not I would mind leaving it behind should my souvenirs take up too much space. I also made sure to pack so every top went with every bottom and I could change up the vibe of my outfit with a switch of my shoes. I also didn't want to look too much like a tourist so I didn't bring anything that looked like workout clothes since I didn't plan on hitting the gym while I was there.
I really loved the polka dot Clare V. jacket I packed because it was a fun shape and reversible. It's a great cotton jacket that worked well in the museums and during the evenings when it cooled down. Before finding the Sambas, I packed a white pair of Vejas tennis shoes, Vivia ballet flats in nutmeg and Munro block heeled sandals in black which I tested for comfort and versatility for walking cobblestone, concrete, and marble streets. Tops included various neutral colored tanks and ribbed t-shirts from Target while bottoms consisted of elastic waist skirts made of linen and other lightweight fabrics from J. Crew and Topshop (similar) for total comfort. And don't forget sunglasses! I wore this pair from Chloe (similar) for most of the trip just because they are fun.