I woke up at my normal going to work time to finish some last minute packing, but instead of doing so I was airport bound and for the first time in 2 years I was doing so jobless (at least until Monday anyway). What freedom! I was travelling to Madrid with Iberia who have only recently opened the route to Edinburgh and in typical Spanish style yet to update their online check-in with the airport details which meant spending an extra 10 minutes queueing to check-in at the baggage drop counter. However, given their completely chilled stance on baggage (you can check a bag without paying any extra money??) and there is certainly none of this you must squeeze all your stuff into one bag and even when you do I am going to take the bag off you to put in the hold – I am looking at you Easyjet. So all in all I would give them a huge thumbs up! When travelling I always find the busiest time is pre 8.00a.m when the security queues can sometimes be huge with people flying out for work for the day but at a respectable 9.30a.m everything is breezy and I didn’t even have to wait in a queue. There was just enough time for some champagne and a mediocre smoked salmon bagel from Flutes and Tales before boarding and jetting off.
I of course slept for most of the flight which was disappointing since I had been hoping to get through a bit more of Girl on the Train. On arrival we had to walk for miles through the terminal, clear security and then walk for miles again to the exit for the metro. When picking our hotel we had decided to push the boat out and go for a luxury place with a pool (pretty hard to come by in Madrid and so eventually settled on Hotel Exe Moncloa. I got to the Moncloa stop easily enough but finding the right exit proved to be a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. Thankfully in Europe you have data and google maps to fall back on and so after 10 minutes or so I managed to find the hotel – which was directly opposite one of the exits, just not the one I had used. I checked in and took the opportunity to have a half hour of downtime enjoying a chorizo empanada I had picked up in the metro station for one euro!! (I love Spain). After getting freshened up though it was time to head out and meet Ruairidh, one half of my two best friends who had recently decided that Spain was a much more exciting prospect than law, and who can really blame them?
We met just outside the Apple shop in Sol which is situated in a massive square where it is said every road in the city leads out from and then to everywhere else in Spain. It is a bustling area with characters dressed up for pictures, people selling glasses and leather goods, and a bunch of tourists and locals milling around. Our first stop was a of course going to be somewhere we could get some wine and so we headed to the Mercado San Anton a cool three floor market selling fresh goods, prepared food as well as the all important wine. We settled on a small bar on the second floor right in the corner where we enjoyed some free olives, most bars will give you a small tapa to eat if you order a drink in Spain. We caught up on life while drinking some lovely cheap Spanish wine. After we had finished our drink we decided to head to another bar in the Chueca area called Café Acuarela. This place was as kitsch as you could find, full of grand religious statues, clocks and interesting chairs. We ordered some more wine but unfortunately no free tapa here. The bars intriguing décor and lighting more than made up for it and there was a dog wandering around which for me has to result in giving the place no less than 5 stars!
It was almost time to meet Maeve – she was the other half of the Spanish besties – who had been at University all afternoon. We wanted to pick somewhere central and so left Chueca behind and headed back to Sol. Just across from the main circle was a side street where there was a specialty of Spain, a one euro bar called +KCopas. Every drink they sell here is one euro and so we enjoyed some more wine before the big reunion (after I might add one whole week apart). It was so nice to catch up and hear about Spanish life but unfortunately after an afternoon of drinking a LOT of wine and not eating much food Ruairidh and I were definitely in need of some food. We wandered up Gran Via – one of the main streets of Sol and full of prostitutes, heading back up to the area Ruairidh and I had been drinking all evening to La Lateral, which Maeve introduced as her favourite place – it had to be a winner then right? SO RIGHT. We waited at the bar for less than 5 minutes before being given a seat outside. Even in mid-September the temperature was still in the late teens late evening and perfect to sit outside and enjoy some fantastic food and wine. Given my inebriated state and the fact my phone had died I don’t have many photos but we had; the seabass ceviche, chicken salad, croquettas, potatas bravas and a really nice bottle of red wine to wash it all down. It was a really good spot for a mixture of Spanish classics with some more modern dishes mixed in and somewhere I would definitely recommend. It was quite late when we finished up and so we bade Ruairidh goodnight before Maeve and I headed back to Moncloa on the metro for a night of luxury.