A Quick Layover

We decided to make a quick stop to Madrid, Spain’s capital for one night. I’ve never been and was interested to see how different it is from Barcelona. Since it was just a night, we decided to stay at a hostel that was centrally located. I’ve never stayed in one in Europe so it was definitely an experience. We were spoiled and had a bathroom in our room. We eventually got a roommate and she was not sketchy at all. Phew!

Airbnb had a cute roof

Madrid is quite walkable so we ventured out and about. Our first stop was to La Mallorquina in Puerto del Sol, a famous bakery in Madrid. We got these 2 croissant like pastries – one that was filled with chocolate and the other was almond.

We wandered around and checked out Plaza Major. It had beautiful archways. Buildings here definitely felt a little more regal and business like. I’d say even less touristy than Barcelona.

Before we walked to the palace, we got some tapas at the food market. Compared to Barcelona’s food market, this is definitely more modern and indoors. It was quite fancy! Again, too much food to choose from haha.

As you can see, lots of good stuff to choose from! It was a little pricy, but tasty. After all the food, we walked it off some more and wandered down to the royal palace and garden.

Ok! This next stop was a definite highlight. Ang had found about these almond cookies that were supposed to be pretty good. They are located at this monastery and made by cloistered nuns. Once inside, there’s a sign to show you where to go. So pretty much there’s this window and you put your money on the lazy susan. They spin it and then cookies magically appear.

Secret cookie success! If you didn’t think I had enough sugar consumed this day.. it continues! This last place had been on my list. It’s Chocolateria san Gines for churros and chocolate. It’s 24/7 so there was no time crunch. There’s also a line to regulate seating, which I thought was really organized and not chaotic.

It’s definitely not the sugary churros at Costco. They’re a bit more bland and oily, but once you dip it into the chocolate. Yummmm. Okay after all that, we went back to the hostel to rest and chill before some real non sugary food. For dinner, we went to a small restaurant known for yummy tapas. Sangria looked prettier than it tasted. Salad was pretty good. The pork tenderloin was the best part – tender and delicious. We also went out on a limb to try the octopus. It was decent!

PROS:
Churros
Large regal buildings
Walkable
Less touristy
Secret cookies were so cool!

CONS:
Not enough time to check out museums

We got about 24 hours here and it was nice to walk around and check out the main area. We’ll have to come back for more! I know I say that about every city but it’s true.

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Hola hola Coca Cola

Next stop on the trip was Spain! Our first stop in Spain was Barcelona, the land of Gaudi! We got in and immediately went to La Sagrada Familia. Tip: make sure you buy tickets online ahead of time. It always sells out and this will ensure your entry. We opted to also pay a little extra to climb up the steps to see the top. Worth it in my opinion. You can see they’re still finishing the construction on it. The architecture and stained glass were breath taking!

We were pretty hungry after this so we hit up the famous Mercado de la Bouqeria on La Rambla. After the incident on La Rambla and my friend being pick pocketed recently, we were extra careful around that area. We caught the tail end of the market and there was still a ton of delicious fruits/veggies, and food around. They even had fresh pressed juices and smoothies. We decided to eat dinner at one of the stalls and it was pretty tasty. Fresh too!

The second day we got up early and checked out Park Guell before all of the crowds came. It’s located upon a hill and it’s quite convoluted to get there by public transportation so we opted for an Uber.. and they still got lost. It was early, but we got to see all of the mosaic tiles without so many tourists. We also walked by some of the other buildings designed by Gaudi.

After that, we met up with my good friend Angie, to get some grub. We were on the hunt for some paella and the place we found was just okay.. slightly disappointed. We walked along the beach and even up to Montjuic Castle. We also caught the Magic Fountain water show. Quite pretty and nearby to where we had stayed. Worth a visit if you’re nearby.

For dinner, we went to this teeny tiny hole in the wall bar called Quimet y Quimet. I wouldn’t even call it a restaurant because there is no seating and it’s all tapas. It was quite the crowded experience! I enjoyed the food and sangria. They’ve got a ton of tapas and mandaditos (small sandwiches pictured below) to choose from.

Some of the mandaditos we ordered were the salmon, yogurt, & honey; pate, mushroom, onion; mussels, caviar, & red pepper; prawns & red pepper; codfish & liver pate.

PROS:
Everything we wanted to see was pretty much in walking distance minus Park Guell
I love sangria and tapas
Art and architecture
Right by the water
I knew a little Spanish
Stayed in Poble Sec – tons of food everywhere

CONS:
Of course we had to be careful with pickpocketers
Spent about only 2 days there

I really enjoyed Barcelona and people were generally nicer than in France. Wish we had more time in our itinerary to explore more.

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