I had luck to be able to spend four years living in Madrid, working at the headquarters of the Cervantes Institute, and whenever I have an opportunity, I like to escape to that city and get lost in its streets, even if only for a day.
When it comes to food, it may sound like a cliché, but Madrid really has countless venues of the most varied styles where you can try everything. One of my favourite places is certainly La Ardosa, where it is obligatory to try artichokes if they are in season, and it is hard to find a better potato tortilla. In the same neighbourhood is also Navaja, which has an excellent fusion of different styles and cuisines, and the creative range of tortillas prepared at Bico is worthy of every recommendation. As I am a vegetarian, I particularly like eateries such as Vega or Rayén Vegano, which offer original and very tasty combinations. Of course, it's always advisable to reserve a table in advance, because word spreads very quickly when it comes to good food in Madrid, so crowds are sometimes unavoidable.
Excellent choices for drinking coffee during the day include Cafelito or Plántate in the Lavapiés neighbourhood. Both venues are small but charming, and besides coffee they also offer very tasty home-made cakes. However, for those who prefer drinking tea, the cosy venue of Tekoe offers a colourful selection, and is located in the even more comfortable Bario de las letras neighbourhood.
A glass of good beer is always desirable, and I find it most pleasant to drink beer at one of the many gardens that are abundant in Madrid's cafes. You won't go wrong if you choose any of the gardens on the Plaza del Dos de Mayo square, and I would recommend the wonderful garden of San Idelfonso. I also adore the gardens of the Plaza de las Comendadoras. Although you are in the very centre of Madrid, it feels as though you've relocated to a quieter setting in some cute, small Spanish village.
Relaxed summer evenings are ideal for strolling through Madrid Río Park or taking in a sunset while enjoying the view of Madrid from one of the hills that make up the Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío. And, when evening falls – provided you speak Spanish - the Microteatro por dinero has a theatrical offer that's more than original. Short works are performed there, lasting ten to fifteen minutes, and are performed right in front of you, in spaces that cover less than a dozen square-metres!
And if you already find yourself in Madrid, don't miss the opportunity to explore the cultural offer of this city, because the Madrid art scene is known as one of the best in Europe! Whenever the opportunity arises, it's mandatory for me to visit the various exhibitions organised at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. However, neighbourhoods like Lavapiés are also packed with places that have numerous interesting events every day, which are often very alternative. Swinton & Grant is one of them that always amazes me afresh!
And if you're lucky enough to awaken in the Spanish capital on a Sunday, then let that be as early as possible, and ensure your plan for that day includes El Rastro, the widely-renowned flea market that has a special status in Madrid. Of course, if you get tired of sightseeing and touring hundreds of stalls, I always recommend that you freshen up with a beer! La Paloma, Los Caracoles or Mercado de San Fernando – you won't be mistaken with any of these places.
Source: ELEVATE, Air Serbia Inflight magazine