After the fun of the night before I woke to feel – well not great. However, there was no time for a hangover and so after one emergency puke run I made it to La Taberna de Moncloa for a breakfast of toast with bacon and eggs plus a coffee and orange juice. The Taberna was a great choice and the menu had a lot of options which made mine and Maeve’s decision pretty tough. It was very local and nice to see a bit more of the Moncloa neighbourhood which is away from the main tourist trail of the city. Feeling full and ready to take on the day we headed back to our hotel for a chilled day of pampering.
As you may recall from the previous blog we had decided on the Hotel Exe Moncloa because it was one of the only Madrid based hotels with a swimming pool which was in a central enough location. I was enjoying a few days off before starting a new job and everyone was generally in consensus that spending a few hours in the sun chilling out by the pool each day would be a great way to relax and enjoy the mini break. So, with this is mind Maeve and I headed back to the hotel and changed into our swimwear, making sure to put sunscreen on for added protection before heading up to the rooftop of the hotel to go to the swimming pool. However, when we arrived the door was locked shut to get outside. How annoying, you must have to ask to get outside and so we stomped back to the lift discussing how annoying it was. On our way down to reception we met a workman and decided to ask him why on earth the door leading to the pool would be locked – it was 30 degrees outside! He looked at us strangely and said the pool was closed. We couldn’t understand why that would be and not being very trusting decided to check out the situation with reception anyway. We were informed that in fact all the swimming pools in Madrid (including all private hotel ones) will only be open from May 31 to September 7 regardless of weather. I was pretty annoyed – firstly my chilled day of reading by the pool in the sun had been thwarted and secondly we had paid a LOT of money for this hotel which was a tube ride away from the centre and we certainly would not have done so if we had known the pool facilities would not be available. We weighed up our options and decided to make do with the sauna and steam room in the basement which while not out in the sun at least allowed for a relaxing hour or so after we requested for them to be switched on!
Having had our swimming pool day thwarted by some stupid Spanish bureaucracy we had a look at google maps and noticed an absolutely massive park nearby and so decided to walk and check it out. Parque del Oeste was absolutely massive and only a few minutes from the hotel past the huge spaceship-like tower. We spent a good couple of hours wandering here past fountains and managed to walk almost right up to the palace and cathedral in the centre of the city before rounding our route back to some interesting sites. The park is absolutely littered with statues but one of my favourite parts was the Egyptian Temple of Debod which was gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government with thanks for Spain’s help in the restoration of the Abu Simbel temples. It is one of the only examples of Egyptian architecture outside of Egypt in the world and has some arches leading up to the temple proper adding a sense of suspense. It was closed when we visited (and I am not actually sure if it is ever actually open to go inside) but even just sitting around the edge of the surrounding water looking at the carvings made for a nice afternoon. The top section of the park provided some spectacular views out over Madrid and had quite a few pools of water with fountains etc. which we dipped our feet into while soaking up the hot sun.
Robyn was due to arrive around 4.30 and so we headed back to the hotel – making a quick stop off at a really nice wine bar just a few minutes from the park called Entrevinos and had a lovely wine and tapa. After our refreshment we made our way back to the hotel (running for the last 10 minutes) to meet Robyn who had arrived. After getting her all checked-in we headed downstairs to the Mercado de Moncloa – a market right under our hotel for some catch-up wine and some snacks. After learning the hard way this morning what lots of wine and not so much food can do I ordered a really good potato salad with tuna and a crab croquette while Robyn had the spinach and cheese which we then shared. It was a great light snack to line our stomachs before we headed off on another wine bar tour.
We took the metro to sol again – the most central stop and easy enough to get around the city from before heading back up Gran Via to check out a bookshop with a bar inside called Tipos Infames. We ordered some wine and sat back to bask in just how hipster we were drinking wine in a bookshop and being oh so cultured. The shop itself seemed lovely although I have to admit I didn’t actually browse through any of the merchandise, and was a nice spot to chill out just outside of the main hustle and bustle of the city. From here we headed over to very cool cocktail bar called 1862 Dry Bar which was also in the Malasana district and was so cool. Even at the early time of 7p.m the customers were spilling out into the street although we managed to grab a standing table in the main section of the bar. The cocktail list was huge and intriguing and while the one I opted for wasn’t great (super strong and not very tasty) everyone else’s were lovely. I really need to work on my cocktail picking skills. The bar also had a cellar area with spirits kept in a sort of cage downstairs where there is more seating but less atmospheric. Another great bar choice to shake up our wine addiction for a bit.
It was still only 8p.m but we had again been enjoying just a bit too much wine and so opted for the sensible choice of an early dinner at nearby Abrasame a Caribbean inspired restaurant in the area which had received some great reviews. We arrived just as they were opening up and so were of course the only people in the place since most Spaniards will not venture out for dinner until around 10p.m. We ordered a pretty phenomenal bottle of Ribera del Duero (a region close to Madrid producing some fabulous red wines) with the famous barbecued spicy chicken with some ribs and some mixed arepas to share with a side of Yucca – a sort of potato like root vegetable. The food was fantastic – really tasty and a bit interesting but ordering the 2 half portions between 4 people was definitely not enough food. Still feeling slightly peckish and given Robyn’s sweet tooth we decided a trip to San Gines Chocolateria for churros would be the perfect way to finish off the night. The churros here are fantastic and are served with a small cup of chocolate which is of course just delicious. This is definitely a must visit place while in Madrid and has been frequented by a bunch of celebrities whose pictures fill the walls. It was still relatively early and so we managed one more drink at +KCopas the one euro bar right next to Sol again which was absolutely packed and so it took a long time to get served. It also turned into one of those cheap student bars in the evenings where everything is sticky and metal to help with cleaning. It did the job though and after one drink – during which we were glared at by a group of young Spanish people who wanted our table – we headed home to sleep and managed to still not be able to locate the correct metro exit (perhaps by the team we leave).