Thursday, November 5, 2015

Take Us Back To Madrid!

Our recent launch of Tartaleta at Chichi Mary made me look back at our summer trip to Spain last year. Our first destination was Madrid, one of my husband’s favorite city to date. The stunning architecture, mouth-watering food, vibrant city vibe and the warm reception of the locals make any visitor in this city wanting to go back again and again.  And if you’re travelling with kids, this is a very kid friendly city too. With playgrounds found in almost all corners -- even at some good dining spots in the city --  this is a perfect place for parents who want to dine out while your kids happily play within your sight. On this blog post, I'm sharing our favorite experiences in Madrid. Just beware, food posts can make you hungry ;)

Gran Via | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Gran Via, the landmark of Madrid.  It is Madrid's  most famous street.

As they say, Madrid is not only the capital of Spain but it is an art city.  We stayed within Madrid's Golden Triangle of Art -- so-called because three major museums are within a few meters away: The Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza  and Reina Sofia National Art Museum.  Ironically, we were not able to go to museums in Madrid during our last trip because I had to prioritize attending kids fashion week.  So admittedly, we missed a lot of Picassos and Velasquez ;)

On the other hand, our hotel was easy walking distance to the tourist destinations like Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol,  Retiro Park and Santa Ana Square.  Since we were literally a 5 minute walk away from Santa Ana Square, we were spoiled with numerous dining options.  Our first dinner in Madrid was very satisfying while my daughter played endlessly at the playgrounds in the square itself.  A good thing we really appreciate about the locals here was how they tried to accommodate and play with Mary despite the language barrier.

Tapas | Santa Ana Square | Chichi Mary Blog

Tapas | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Arugula salad with burrata cheese and pesto dressing, jamon Iberico, blood sausage with quail egg, and callos.  All were really good and memorable for us.

Playground | Santa Ana Square | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Mary playing "futbol" with the locals. A lot of parents eat at the al fresco seating of the different restaurants while letting their children have fun at the playground.

Santa Ana Square | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
A typical day in Madrid.  A playground stop and Mary feeding pigeons.

After attending a series of kids fashion shows in Madrid, my family got to start exploring the city. We took the open top tour bus to see all the important sites in the city and took extra time to visit Catedral de Santa MarĂ­a la Real de la Almudena (Madrid's Cathedral), Palacio Real, and Plaza de Oriente.

Catedral de Santa Maria | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Madrid's Cathedral
Palacio Real | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Royal Palace - the largest royal palace in Western Europe.
Plaza de Oriente | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Plaza de Oriente is located on the east side of the Royal Palace.
Plaza de Oriente of Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Plaza de Oriente
Playground | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Playgrounds are scattered all over -- this one is right beside Plaza de Oriente.

Our favorite sight so far was Retiro Park. Its manicured gardens were very impressive and cruising around the pond was just a happy experience for the whole family.

Me Too Clothing | Retiro Park | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Mary in her Me Too dress.

Retiro Park | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog

Manicured Gardens | Retiro Park | Chichi Mary Blog

Pond | Retiro Park | Chichi Mary Blog

Paddle Boat | Retiro Park | Chichi Mary Blog

Madrid is not only a charming city but it is definitely a great food destination. One of the must visit markets in Madrid is the Mercado San Miguel.  It is a market where you can see all the local food of Madrid.  Seriously, I wanted to stay in this place for a couple of days to try almost all the food offerings.  And for a fish lover like me, this is a haven because of so many variety of Bacalao available.  

Mercado San Miguel | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Facade of Mercado San Miguel
Hors d'oeuvre | Mercado San Miguel | Chichi Mary Blog

Jamon | Mercado San Miguel | Chichi Mary Blog

Croquettas | Mercado San Miguel | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Different kinds of croquettas
Seafood | Mercado San Miguel | Chichi Mary Blog
Local Madrid seafood.  My favorite are the razor clams.
Paella | Mercado San Miguel | Chichi Mary Blog
Paella everywhere! :)

We also ate at the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin.  The restaurant is known for their suckling pig and roasted baby lamb .  But the one that really impressed me was Botin’s garlic soup.  It was so good!  This is probably the Spanish version of the French onion soup, and the taste is at-par with the best French onion soups I've tasted.

Botin | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kids Boutique | Blog

Garlic Soup | Botin | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
My unforgettable garlic soup!
Roasted Suckling Pig | Botin | Chichi Mary Blog
Roasted suckling pig and roasted baby lamb.  I think it's better to order one whole suckling pig especially when you come in a big group.

Suckling Pig | Botin | Chichi Mary Blog
I couldn't help myself from peeking at the kitchen where you can see all the suckling pigs being prepared.

It is undeniable that we had an awesome time eating out at Madrid. We usually had chocolate con churros  and jamon for breakfast, paella for lunch and tapas for dinner. And because I originally came from the Philippines, I found their food very similar to Filipino food. It is no surprise because the Philippines was colonized by Spain for 300 years. To top it all, I was extremely happy eating some fresh chorizos, which is very similar to Philippine longganisa. And because longganisa is my favorite, I ate these fresh chorizo almost every day ;)  In addition to that, I also enjoyed Bacalao mostly during dinner to offset all the calories during breakfast and lunch.  :)

Fresh chorizo | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
Fresh chorizo and bread but I would prefer to have chorizo and white rice instead ;)
Bacalao | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog
One of the many Bacalao dishes in Madrid.  My favorite is Bacalao with caviar, which is also available in Mercado San Miguel.

Aside from drinking Sangria almost every meal, we also enjoyed this local Madrid liquor served in cups with chocolate coating.  It was so good!  We brought home a few of these liquors with the special cups but unfortunately, we later found out that Mary ate all the cups  :)

Spanish Liquor | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog

Plaza Mayor is another venue where you have multiple dining options while your kids are being entertained with so many street performers. Mary had lots of fun interacting with them and at the same time feeding pigeons in the square.

Torero | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog
Mary with a Torero :)
Plaza Mayor | Madrid | Chichi Mary Blog

Plaza Mayor | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog
Figuring out where to eat at Plaza Mayor.
At Puerta del Sol, which is one of the busiest squares in Madrid, Mary didn't miss interacting with the performers and live statues again.

Puerta del Sol | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog

Puerta del Sol  | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog
A stranger couldn't help but touch Mary's face while we were taking her pictures.  
Live Statue | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog
One of the many live statues at Puerta del Sol. This person's gimmick is that he looks like he's floating off the ground.

One of the things we definitely planned beforehand was to go and watch a flamenco show.  It was my first time watching flamenco and I can say that it was really worth the experience.  My daughter was also entertained! The dancers were so skillful that we could feel the intensity and passion throughout the show.

Flamenco | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog

Flamenco | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog

In Madrid, the locals both start and end their day late, which is why the night life is very vibrant. Madrid has a very festive atmosphere even on weekdays (and it goes up several notches during the weekends) and because of this, I couldn't help having a midnight snack even after just a few hours of eating a full dinner :)

Gran Via at Night | Madrid | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique

Madrid at Night | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog

Puerta del Sol at Night | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog
On the way back from watching Flamenco, we passed by Puerta del Sol, where the energy of the crowd made me so hungry that I just had to get myself a very yummy looking pizza.  The time?  Midnight.

We also enjoyed walking around small alleys and squares and found so many specialty shops very interesting. There are lots of shops where you can appreciate how beautiful the wares are, especially the leather which is so soft.

One thing we didn't see in Madrid was a real bullfight -- my husband and I were debating whether Mary was old enough to witness a bull's demise in front of her, and in the end we decided to skip it. This plus not getting to browse the collection of  the three major art museums gives us a lot of reasons to go back, right? Most importantly, our Chichi Mary customers both love Oca-Loca shoes and Tartaleta, which encourages me to hunt and explore for more Spanish brands ;)  Hope to see you again soon Madrid!

In the meantime, stay tuned for the continuation of our summer vacation in Spain.  Hola Barcelona :)

Speed Train | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique | Blog



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