One of the best parts of having friends who live overseas is the excuse to visit them for a weekend. Given it was summer (and we were yet to see any in the UK), I hopped over to Madrid after work on Friday to visit my two friends Maeve and Ruairidh. They had moved to Spain a year before and were spending their final weekend in Madrid before a move south to Valencia. Given the time difference I arrived into Madrid at 9p.m and made my way into the city to meet Maeve. It was great to catch up after so long and we headed out to Toga for dinner. I had initially found the place on tripadvisor and Maeve and Ruairidh had loved it so decided to take me to try it out. We each picked a dish to share which worked really well. We started with a fresh ceviche (one of my absolute favourites), then had this amazing Uruguayan chivito sandwich with grilled beef, lettuce, tomato, egg and bacon and finished with some orecchiette pasta with truffle oil, spinach, mushrooms and of course cheese. The menu was fusion and delicious and we washed the lot down with a fab wine. Given I had been at work and was flying I was happy to retire back to Maeve and Ruairidh’s apartment around midnight for a jam-packed Saturday.
We took the opportunity to sleep in on Saturday and then picked up some pastries and coffee from a nearby bakery to enjoy for breakfast before starting the day. The main goal of the trip was to experience the best of Madrid that Maeve and Ruairidh hadn’t experienced yet in their year in the city. No mean feat, especially when the whole of Spain closes in the last few weeks of August to vacation and so everything is closed. Nonetheless, we accepted the challenge and started the day with our best friend – alcohol! We started out with a vermouth bar – a traditional Spanish drink to have in the morning. Bar Pavon was very old-fashioned and pretty authentic with a musty smell and some old men sipping away at the old tables. We gave it a try (pretty strong and medicinal, although it improves the more you drink) and ticked off our first task off the list. Next up was cava sangria after the wonder of tasting it in Barcelona. Unfortunately, Madrid is not big on hammocks and so we settled for this instead. Cava Sangria is a thing of beauty – fresh, fruity and delicious we found a courtyard with enough sun for me and enough shade for Ruairidh and it was almost like being back on those Barcelona beaches.
After a leisurely morning of bar-hopping we made our way down to the public swimming pool next to Casa de Campo. First, however, we made a short cava pit stop to pick up some pool beverages and then headed down to el Urogallo for lunch. It was a lovely spot right next to the lake and we sipped on some cool wine and stuffed our faces with black pudding and honey drizzled black pudding balls, a lovely light goats cheese salad and . It was delicious and a perfect location to relax. After our late lunch (it was almost 6p.m by now) we headed round to the pool for a chilly dip (the water, despite the heat of the sun is not heated and so is very refreshing) and a lovely late afternoon of chilling out and meeting one of Maeve and Ruairidh’s friends Eva. For those who have explored some of the more famous sites of Madrid, this is a lovely way to spend a few hours relaxing, particularly in the heat of summer. After finishing our cava we headed back into town and made our way to a fantastic rooftop bar location – Apartosuites Jardines de Sabatini to have some cocktails and watch the sun set. Madrid sunsets are some of the best I have seen outside of Africa so this is definitely a must see. The bar was overpriced however, and so once the sun had faded we finished up and headed back to Cheuca for some dinner. We decided on Chan Street a Asian styled restaurant and ordered some dumplings and noodle soup and rice mains. The food was ok but by this point we were pretty far gone and so we had a hilarious time, with Maeve making Ruairidh switch mains with her. We spent the rest of the night bar hopping, ending the evening in a El Parnaso where they sold Flor de Cana – my all-time favourite rum (this is caveated by the fact I have yet to visit any of the Caribbean islands and I reserve all rights to update accordingly). What a fun night!
Thankfully Ruairidh ensured that Maeve and I made it to bed safely by taking all ice tea cans out of our hands and generally putting us to bed (Thanks Ruairidh!). Next day we awoke late and had been feeling better. We were due to meet Adrian – one of Maeve’s work colleagues for brunch but were late and we both ended up in different locations. When we had all finally assembled at Federal we ordered all the drinks (rehydration is key to preventing hangovers people!) and did the standard introductions. They have a pretty extensive brunch menu with Maeve going for baked eggs and someone else for a breakfast burger. I instead opted for the eggs with extras including – halloumi, mushrooms, chorizo and avocado. It was phenomenal! We had time for another quick beverage – this time of the Cava variety at a nearby bar too. Given the short turnaround for the weekend I had to head for the airport straight after brunch and fly home since the only direct flight left at 4p.m. It did allow me to get home early and prevent excessive day drinking. I love Madrid and will definitely be back again soon for a fun weekend of drinking and sunshine.