The Unplanned Trip to Madrid

We didn’t have much lead time to plan our London trip, since it kind of sprung up on us, but we did decide that we’d like to visit one or two additional places with Alan while in Europe. He had always wanted to go to Prague, and Bridge has dreamt of visiting Germany’s Christmas markets, so Germany and Prague I booked!

Ofcourse, based on the title of this blog, you probably already know that neither Germany nor Prague worked out for us. While in London, I read on the news that both countries were on the verge of another COVID lockdown, with Christmas markets being canceled. I dreaded the thought of canceling, since everything was booked already, but at the 11th hour, I decided it would be for the best. The question was, where would we pivot to?

After some quick research, Spain felt like the safest place to be at the time, in terms of COVID numbers. It was also less cold there, and that was appealing to me, because I was freezing my butt off in London already. We had been to Barcelona previously, so it only made sense to choose another part of Spain to visit this time. Madrid it was!

Given that we booked Madrid at the very last minute, no planning was done beforehand. I hopped onto my Airbnb app the day before we left London to see what kind of activities would be interesting to do while in Madrid and selected a cooking class and a history + food tour.

Arriving to Madrid, we were already awe-inspired by the massive amount of Christmas lights everywhere. It felt like a dreamy wonderland!

We did the cooking class on our first day there, where we got a private lesson on a number of Spanish tapas, such as ham croquettes, potato omelette, honey eggplant, and more. It was so much fun to do it as a family, since Alan doesn’t usually cook at all. He demonstrated some excellent egg flipping skills though, so I do feel like he’s now qualified to be our chef at home from time to time. 😁 After cooking all the tapas, the best part was getting to sit down to enjoy all that delicious food along with some local wine!

During our week in Madrid, we mainly explored by foot, and we certainly did a good job walking off all the calories we consumed. We discovered that tuna is a specialty there, even more so than Japan, and we were so surprised when we tasted the absolute best grilled tuna that we’ve ever had while in Madrid. It was grilled to perfection, with just the right amount of melt-in-your-mouth effect while maintaining some texture. Pair that with Spain’s famous basque cheesecake and we just might never want to leave!

The history and food tour that we booked in Madrid was fantastic! Our guide, Abel, took us around town to some of the best food places, including the Restaurant Botin, which is the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. We especially enjoyed the variety of food that we got to sample at the San Miguel Market, and the decadent hot chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés. Besides consuming a ridiculous amount of food with Abel, we also obtained an abundant amount of knowledge about the history and culture of Madrid as Abel took us to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, and other notable places around the city. It was definitely an afternoon well spent, and we’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Madrid!

For the remainder of our time in Madrid, we kept it pretty chill. We loved feeling the Christmas vibe around the city, although some parts of town were overly crowded. We indulged in paellas, tapas, seafood, and way too much basque cheesecake. We found a couple small Christmas markets to stroll through. We admired the twinkling holiday lights all over town. And we just really enjoyed spending quality time as a family.

For our last day in Madrid, we took a day trip to Toledo, which was less than hour away by speed train. Toledo is an ancient city set on top of a hill and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive monumental and cultural heritage. While there, we navigated through the maze of streets and alleys that made up old town and caught a beautiful view of the city from up high.

Madrid was definitely an unexpected destination for us, but if COVID has taught us one thing, it is to be flexible for unknown changes! We ended up really loving our time there and Alan already says he wants to go back for the tuna, lol.

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