Recently a friend came to visit. Here is a hypothetical trip plan by Ugarte. Not Fodor’s, Frommer’s, or any other f named travel gurus.
Let’s say your guest arrives in Atocha (the beautiful train station) around 2pm and they’re ready to get a little crazy, you take them home first. Can’t go around Madrid with suitcases, that’s silly. Leave the bags, put on some decent clothing and then sit in your house and chat. It’s the Madrileño way. No one leaves their home until they have wasted time. No one.
After wasting the proper amount of time, you do Madrid:Greatest Hits. It goes as follow.
SOL- the plaza at the heart of Madrid and the Country. The Giant Whale Metro (what it looks like to us), is a feast for the eyes, along with the Oso y Madroño statue. Walk around, be awed. Are you awed? Good. Moving on, you quickly wander through the mammoth shopping areas popping up around Gran Via and the lovely Callao theatre area. Heading north along Gran Via, you’ll run into Plaza España, the giant fountain that houses Don Quixote and Sancho Panza! Take it in before the young hooligans come with their beer and their graffiti! Loop around to the Royal Palace, Plaza Oriente, and of course the Giant Church of Almudena. Bask in Spain’s former glory, then immediately go get drunk with the locals who are trying to forget Spain’s present.
San Miguel is your next stop- it is the most expensive place you’ll encounter, but it is an excellent welcoming mat. Food, Cheese, wine, ham, wine, food, wine-everything you need to begin your Iberian adventure. Once you’ve hit up the tourist hot spot, go join the locals in La Latina, I suggest Txakolina. These tapas bars offer you large portions for low prices and of course they perfectly accompany your wine. Once you have been fed, bee line it across town to the old punk neighborhood of La Malasaña. This is where your night should really heat up. La Ardosa is older than most cities in the States and has some of the best vermut around. Stumble over to La Bicicleta for the largest and most delicious gin and tonics hipsters have ever made. (no joke, one man bemoaned the influx of “jipsters” to the area, the curse of Williamsburg continues).
From here your night blurs. Just stumble around, you’ll find something.
The next day, wake up. This may be the best you can do. Your guest will be hungry, cook them a massive champagne breakfast. Hair of the dog and what not. Lounge around until 4, then head to Retiro the massive park in city center. Wander through and see the people and the pond, the Crystal Palace and the performers. Meander towards the Prado. After 6pm everyday, you can get in for free. This gives you about 2 hours to see the place, not enough time but you can see the highlights like Goya’s dark paintings. You’ll get hungry so head over to Casa Julio’s – some of the best croquetas in the city. This will whet your appetite and make you wander around until you find a place to eat. (We chose Barriga Llena, a mexican restaurant that always fills us up). After dinner, it’s drinking time. Head to the Cuevas de Sesamo for sangria, Plaza Santa Ana for terraza drinking, and end the night at Parsanillo del Principe. Wander into a bad club and then head home…
SUNDAY FUNDAY. Take it easy, you deserve it. Start slow, stroll though the Rastro, Madrid’s giant flea market. Grab some lunch in Lavapies, head over to Casa Granada, a roof top bar overlooking the beautiful city sky line. Stroll over to the Reina Sofia and stare at Picasso’s Guernica. A friend may call to tell you Fuel Fandango is playing later, go, buy some tinto and spend the day in a field drinking with new Spanish friends. The perfect way to end a perfect weekend.
BUT WAIT, there’s Monday! Wake up at your leisure and spend some time resting those legs of yours. Leave in time to get a good menu in. A menu is a prixe fixe type set meal in which you can get an entire bottle of wine and extras for under 10 euros. I highly recommend getting some dessert at La Mallorquina, one of the historical bakeries that serves the BEST napolitanas in the city. Stroll over to El Templo de Debod to catch some last minute sites of the city. You can also head north to the rose gardens of Parque Oeste and finish with a massive dinner at restaurant in a more “hood” like area (i.e. my school). Send your guest on to the plane tired, bloated, and happy.