To say that I was exhausted after a week of travel jumping from one amazing city to the next was an understatement. I slept 11 hours straight and woke up feeling refreshed to enjoy a week in Madrid! Sra. Perry and I are staying at Espahotel which is right on Gran Vía where all of the hustle and bustle (and shopping) occurs in this capital city of 3.5 million people! It is exciting because I spent a week here last year as well so I feel familiar with general locations around the city as well as with the metro system. Believe me, I started a checklist last year of must-sees on this visit!
Today we started our day as any American would, at Dunkin Coffee. It’s the same as Dunkin Donuts just a different name, three stories tall, different donut flavors and a bathroom with a keycode lock that appears on your receipt! I had never seen such a bathroom and was quite confused on how to enter initially :).
We then headed to Pablo’s father’s house, Juanxu, for a paella lesson! Seriously, how many people get an in-home lesson from a native Spaniard on how to make paella?! I felt very fortunate! We had patatas (potato chips) and sardines as appetizers along with an Agua de Valencia drink (think mimosa) before going in the kitchen for our lesson. He used an electric paella pan versus the traditional paella pans you see in restaurants. Tasted the same to me, delicious! It was fun to talk with Juanxu about life in Spain as he showed us each step in the process. He served us all at the dining room table and it felt just like a family meal. Home away from home. We ended the meal with a tarta de manzana or apple tart, that may have been one of the best things I have ever tasted. I have never even eaten apple pie in the states and could have devoured this entire tart! Vanilla ice cream melting over top of caramelized apples…mmmmmmm. Take me back!
We passed four hours (yes, lunch is very long in this country) at his flat in the city dining and visiting before heading back to the hotel. We couldn’t have our first day in Madrid lack some exploration! Strolling casually down Gran Via, we ventured to Plaza del Sol to see the street performers and simply take in the sights. It is so fun to see all of the street talent ideas here. Some are truly impressive to see, especially the musicians. Due to lunch being so late we caught a restaurant just before closing for some BBQ chicken empanadas and a chicken caesar salad along Gran Via. I needed something different than paella for this meal.
Although still catching up on sleep from the trip so far, I cannot wait to see what experiences are to come in the next five days. Madrid, I’m ready for you!