It was a random weeknight in November, I was at home and grabbed my phone which was on silent and noticed a friend had called, left a voicemail and texted. I began to think something was wrong. Wondering where the fire was, I called him back to discover he wanted to let me know about discounted airfare to Spain he found on SkyScanner. He had booked a trip, his sister was booking a trip and within minutes we were booking a trip & so was my father!
Four long months later, my husband and I took a nonstop Iberia Airlines flight from LAX to Madrid. It was easily one of the best flights I’ve been on. The staff seemed like they actually enjoyed their jobs, the food was good, the seats were comfortable and the in flight entertainment well,… it kept me entertained. I don’t go to movie theatres on land because I don’t want to get shot or get in a fight with someone who is chewing their popcorn super loudly so I use my time on flights wisely trying to catch up on movies. On this flight I watched “Sing” about cartoon animals trying out for a talent show, “La La Land” which in my opinion didn’t deserve the real or fake awards it got, and a hilarious Spanish Language Film titled “Villaviciosa De Al Lado”. I found it amusing that this movie was based on actual events considering it was about a winning lottery ticket sold at a brothel and so the men who went in on the ticket couldn’t claim their winnings without outing themselves as brothel visiting Johns.
When we arrived at the Madrid airport we took an Uber to our hotel. Yes! There is Uber in Madrid. Locating the unmarked Uber pick up area outside the terminal was an adventure that made me feel like we were on the Amazing Race, but we figured it out. In Madrid you can request an Uber One which is a bit pricier but gets you a Tesla Model S with a fancy driver dressed up in a suit!
The first hotel I had booked was the NH Madrid Ribera del Manzanares in Arganzuela. I booked this hotel because I wanted our first few days to be in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood away from the bustling and loud city center. Although this hotel was within walking distance to a lot of attractions it’s considered to be away from the city center so price wise you can get more bang you get for your buck!
This hotels was beautiful. The lobby was spacious, the rooms were large by European standards, the beds were super comfortable, our windows opened so we could get fresh air and hear the birds. I really enjoyed staying at this hotel. I also have to give a special shout out to the staff here. I had to change booking details prior to our arrival and they had no problem accommodating my request over email and sending me a confirmation. We also forgot an item in the room which with a simple email they were able to recover and hold for us. The Vicente Calderón football stadium was a 5 minute walk away and we were able to walk to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, San Miguel Market and even to La Latina from our hotel too. We also had the added benefit of being among the locals and having our morning lattes in cafes void of tourists.
Our trip to Spain happened to be during Semana Santa, the Holy Week between Palm Sunday and Easter. Our first day in Madrid was Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday). A lot of streets were blocked for different religious processions during which a few different saints are brought out of churches and carried around town to the beat of drums. It seemed like all the locals were out and about or watching out of their balconies and windows. The sight of these processions reminded me of a hilarious scene in the movie I watched on the airplane where one of the guys in the procession kept farting. If you’re lucky you’ll see a procession that looks like this.
If you’re not so lucky, you may run into a procession that looks more like this.
I’m not quite sure why I found these KKK-esque costumes so jarring considering I’m Armenian and my holy people dress like this.
After a few days in our quiet hotel we moved to another hotel in the City Center right off the Gran Via. This place wasn’t nearly as nice as the first, yet it cost the same. We spent our days in Madrid walking around the city, taking siestas, visiting Plazas, drinking beer and sangria, admiring shop windows, dinning al fresco, listening to street artists playing Spanish guitar, observing the locals dressed in their football jerseys going to the stadium and local bars to watch their teams, and just absorbing as much of Madrid as we could.
I really loved Madrid much more than I thought I would. I wish we had planned to have 2 more days in Madrid. There were still so many places I wanted to visit. My biggest regret was not visiting the Temple of Debod considering we sat in the entrance of the park it’s in after visiting Plaza de Espana!
I didn’t want our time in Madrid to end. However, what softened the blow was that we were BARCELONA bound!