Our final city in Spain was Madrid. We opted to take an early morning 2 hour train ride from Alicante to Madrid. It would have taken about the same amount of time to fly after accounting for security and waiting for checked bags. This way we could see the countryside as we made our way inland.
We stayed at the NH Madrid. It is only a few blocks from the Renfe train station and is right in the middle of plenty of shops and restaurants. My room was on the top floor and had amazing exposed beams and natural light. I opened up the skylight to let in a nice breeze and listen to the bustling of the streets below.
It seemed like everywhere we walked there were shops, boutiques and cafes. We walked trough the Justica area, through Colón and up to Salamanca. In Justica there were small streets lined with boutiques that led to a square where El Corte Ingles had a few separate massive stores.
Calle de Augusto Figueroa in Chueca is a small side street lined with shoe store after shoe store. Lesac, Ambar, Kamakura (great unique espadrilles) and Adelagil were some of my favorites.
Living International felt like it belonged on a beach somewhere. They carry all fair trade items from around the world. I bought the cutest wooden pineapple that was made in Bali from them. The owner gives out a handmade bracelet with each purchase and tells you to tie it around your wrist and make three wishes. When the bracelets falls off, one of those wishes will come true.
This was the Palacio de Biblioteca y Museos Nactionales that we walked by in Colón.
& Other Stories has become one of my favorite stores to visit in Europe. I always find something fun and inspiring. This one in Madrid was built in an old theater. There were marble staircases and some incredible vaulted ceilings where the stage used to be.
For dinner we wandered around the Plaza de Santa Ana area (near the hotel) and went in to a few places for tapas and drinks. After dinner we walked into a restaurant and went to the bar. My coworker saw sangria on the menu and made a comment about ordering it.
“Don’t order the sangria here,” said a guy sitting next to us at the window. He was a fairly drunken Belgian man who spoke fairly terrible Spanish. But after a roundabout conversation he recommended a place that specialized in sangria in a basement “somewhere around here.” Challenge accepted.
I don’t quite remember how we found the place, but you’d never know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. The lighting was dim, the tables were low and the chairs were tiny. But the waiters were were all in burgundy sport coats and bow ties and they served their sangria by the pitcher. There was a live piano player who played from his heart and you couldn’t help but sing along.