Spanish food & how to eat it! Spanish plonk & how to drink it!

Paella in Spain is all you really need!
Paella in Spain is all you really need!

It’s May!

And therefore Spring.

Thank goodness, as in the last few weeks in Germany, you might be forgiven had you thought it was October!

Yep.

Around here it was Autumn!

Around here it was Autumn!
Around here it was Autumn!

As you know, my family and I went to Spain and Portugal. Here are the last few posts in case you missed them:

If you’ve been following me for the merely two years that I’ve been blogging, you’ll see that I like travelling and experiencing the local gastronomy. I mean, just take a look below and you’ll see what I mean…!

Belgian mussels flowing in lemon and wine!
Belgian mussels flowing in lemon and wine!

BELGIUM:

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

A portion of chips in Bristol.
A portion of chips in Bristol.

ENGLAND:

ESTONIA:

Have you ever seen such a fantastic creme brulee? So creamy, so delcious, so....!
Have you ever seen such a fantastic creme brulee? So creamy, so delicious, so….!

FRANCE:

FINLAND:

Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!
Yummy delights for you and you and YOU!

GERMANY:

HUNGARY:

Pelmeni served with sour in Latvia.
Pelmeni served with sour in Latvia.

LATVIA:

The magic drink of Latvia is basalm and I drank it!

LITHUANIA:

My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.
My fantastic pierogi with a smattering of bacon pieces, sprinkled with parsley.

POLAND:

SCOTLAND:

Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf - Bangkok, Thailand.
Sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf – Bangkok, Thailand.

THAILAND:

Yummmy Yum Yum!

So without further ado, let’s talk about Spanish food.

Here we go!

SPANISH FOOD AND HOW TO EAT IT!

Spanish food for everyone!
Spanish food for everyone!

We spent three (3) days in Madrid and three (3) days in Seville and we were really able to get a good insight into what the lovely Spanish cuisine is made of.

Food in Spain is important.

It’s a message of love, desire, fun, and good fortune. It’s something that is shared, divided and passed around among friends, families, neighbours and strangers.

Many a time, I have been to the Mediterranean and there has been one street festival or the other. And what did the locals do? They invited us in and shared what they had.

That is what food is all about.

A message of love!

A message of love!
A message of love!

Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by geography, climate and local culture. Food has a great amount of influence on cooking methods, local ingredients, and a complex history of traditions, religion, art and music.

When we think of Spanish food, we don’t necessarily think of gourmet, and as for vegetarian food? Well, it exists in vegetables of course, but beef, pork and seafood still reign, as the local eating monarch!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” who, as a male 14-year-old tween, spends much of his time eating, grew tired of devouring long slabs of ham and pork!

I mean whaaaaaat!

A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!
A hostal is Spanish in style but does the job!

While we were in Madrid, we stayed in a Spanish-British run hostal.

A hostal is a type of lodging found mostly in Spain and Hispanic America. They are often family run independent businesses with a strong involvement, with the local community. They’re also very reasonably priced.

Madrid! Madrid! In Spain!
Madrid! Madrid!
In Spain!

Madrid is expensive so it’s best to stay in the centre rather than the suburbs. I finally managed to find a hostal that could fit the three (3) of us into one (1) room, was within walking distance of the sights, and only cost €88.00 per night!

It wasn’t of the quality that I’m used to, but was Spanish in style, and definitely did the job! I’m not going to write about the hostal on my blog, but if you want the name, just contact me via the usual way!

Get ready to lick your chops!

A SPANISH BREAKFAST

Spanish cold cuts and cheese. Plenty for breakfast!
Spanish cold cuts and cheese. Plenty for breakfast!

Breakfast wasn’t provided so we went out to eat. Our hostal was on C/de la Cruz not far from Puerto del Sol, and there were absolutely loads of restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from.

Bear in mind that a lot of restaurants didn’t actually open until after 10:00!

Eeeek!

A local Spanish baguette sandwich filled with slices of Serrano or Iberian ham accompanied by very, very squashed and sqeezed tomatoes!
A local Spanish baguette sandwich filled with slices of Serrano or Iberian ham accompanied by very, very squashed and squeezed tomatoes!

We tended to have a local baguette sandwich, filled with either slices of Serrano ham or Iberian ham, and accompanied by parmesan and very, very squashed tomatoes!

I love tomatoes and in pretty much every sandwich shop we went to, they squashed them so that every ion of liquid was squeezed out, resulting in a bit of a mush!

We also had Spanish Croquettes that were stuffed with more ham, cheese and sometimes pork.

The highlight of breakfast however, were the churros.

Lovely churros made ready for the morning punters!
Lovely churros made ready for the morning punters!

Mmmm!

I can’t stand coffee as I must have my daily cup of tea! However, I do enjoy a hot cup of chocolate, with a swirling of whipped cream, sprinkled with white chocolate flakes!

Ahem!

In Spain, locals tend to go to a chocolatería, so why not do likewise?

"The Tall Young Gentleman" devouring his morning churros con chocolate!  Delish!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” devouring his morning churros con chocolate!
Delish!

Savour in the delicious taste of goodness, and get yourself a local titbit known as a churros con chocolate. This “meal” is a fried churro dipped in a lovely thick cup of dripping hot chocolate!

And you do need to dip the sweet churros in your drink, ‘cos the hot chocolate is extremely thick and slightly sour!

SOUPS AND SAUCES

Soups & sauces!
Soups & sauces!

Stews, broths, soups and sauces have always been stables of any cultural tradition.

Spain has a large variety of soups and sauces made with beans and tomatoes, full of spice and full of flavour, available to eat in both hot and cold varieties!

Spanish traditional dishes!
Spanish traditional dishes!

The dishes above are called pisto. They are traditional dishes made from tomatoes, onions, eggplant or courgette, green and red peppers and olive oil. Similar to ratatouille, they are usually served warm with a fried egg on top!

A lot of the sauces have spicy beans in them.
A lot of the sauces have spicy beans in them.

The stew above is pretty spicy served with seafood. Eat with a crusty loaf of bread.

Vegetable stew.
Vegetable stew.

Vegetable stew filled with all the goodness of Spain! Serve hot. Or cold!

PAELLA!

Paella is Spain's national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!
Paella is Spain’s national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish street food too!

OMG!

If you haven’t had paella, you haven’t lived!

Paella is a rice dish invented in Valencia and consisting of white rice, green beans, chicken or rabbit, white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Sometimes also including artichoke, seafood mixed vegetables and olive oil.

Spain has a large collection of rice dishes but it’s important to note that paella is the national dish of Spain!

Paella with sausages, rice & peas!
Paella with sausages, rice & peas!

There’s a lot of paella to go around.

Made in huge pots on large open-air stoves, it’s a meal made for the world and it’s mother!

TAPAS OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SPANISH SNACKS!

Tapas otherwise known as Spanish snacks!
Tapas otherwise known as Spanish snacks!

A few weeks ago, I spoke at length about tapas and how you can order them at a local bar. 

Simply put, a tapa or tapas are a wide variety of food served as an appetizer or snack.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar,” meaning “to cover,” and also “on top of” or “a lid” and even to mean “small portion” and there are many stories, depending on which Spanish city you happen to be in lol!

One theory is that the tapas were slices of bread or meat which punters in taverns used to cover their glasses against dirt, dust, and fruit flies, between sips. The meat used to cover drinks was usually ham or chorizo, which were both very salty and activate thirst.

Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with alcohol, thus increasing their alcohol sales.

A nice plateful of tapas is well served.
A nice plateful of tapas is well served.

A nice plateful of variety is well served.

On the left-hand side, you have a bowl of potatoes which they describe as “roast” potatoes but are actually fried, covered with a tomato and pepper sauce called Xató or Romesco. On the right-hand side you have a bowl of fried squid, and in the middle, a bowl of chistorra which is a type of sausage made from minced pork, or a mixture of minced pork and beef, flavoured with garlic, salt, and paprika, and usually baked, fried, or grilled.

OTHER SPANISH STUFF. LIKE EMM. DESSERT!

Tortilla Española or a Spanish Omelette.
Tortilla Española or a Spanish Omelette.

A Spanish omelette is the English name for a traditional Spanish dish called tortilla española, or tortilla de patatas. This dish consists of an omelette made with eggs and potato and fried in oil.

It can be eaten warm or cold.

Speaking of cold. Let’s not forget dessert.

Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!
Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!

Enjoy this Spanish crème caramel or caramel custard, with a huge dollop of whipped cream!

Go for Spanish strawberries & cream!
Go for Spanish strawberries & cream!

Or stay “healthy” and go for strawberries and thick swirly cloted cream, instead!

SPANISH PLONK AND HOW TO DRINK IT!

Spanish beer.
Spanish beer.

And lastly, you can’t be in Spain if you haven’t at least tried, and tasted some good ol’ Spanish plonk!

That’s right. If you’ve ever thought about whether to start drinking beer or not, Spain is the place!

Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

You can’t compare the quality to German beer of course, but at 50 cents per glass, you really can’t go wrong!

Drink a few glasses of beer washed down with tapas to start your evening!

How about a glass of Spanish Tinto de Verano otherwise known as sangria?

It’s not like the cheap stuff you would normally get at a packaged beach destination on the Spanish islands, but is rather quite nice and refreshing!

More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!
More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!

If you drank it with a few cubes of ice and slices of fruit. You’d be in clover!

Now I didn’t know this previously, but were you aware that gin and tonic is a huge thing in Spain?!

A huuuuuge thing!

Drinks & nachos on me!
Drinks & nachos on me!

We found out by accident as we went to a tavern and were served jars of clear liquid, which we thought was water.

At first!

But it wasn’t!

It was Gin and Tonic!

And the first time we knew of it was when “The Tall Young Gentleman” took a gulp of icy “water” and instantly spat it out, declaring that the “water” had gone off!!

Ooops!

Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!

We were supposed to try out the traditional Asturian Cider, but for some reason, we were served Spanish red wine instead!

I’m not complaining though.

A few glasses or bottles of wine drunk while people-watching, snacking on tapas, or generally “going out for a drink” is not to be sniffed at!

Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous!
Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous!

Oh yes, lest I forget,

Prices for freshly pressed fruit juice are outrageous. And in some cases, as much as €4.00 per glass!!

Yikes!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hola!

Spain's most famous snack - Tapas!
Spain’s most famous snack – Tapas!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the heavenly sangria and splendid wine, are my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

Next week, I’ll be focusing on Portugal!

On May 5th, I’ll be at a Travel Massive & DNX Mingle so if you’re a blogger or just interested in travel, lifestyle or travel technology, then come and meet us! Registration and attendance is free of charge!

From May 18th – May 22nd, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Award ceremony.

May is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you must be off your Nelly!

Watch this space!

Spanish food & how to eat it! Spanish plonk & how to drink it!
Spanish food & how to eat it!
Spanish plonk & how to drink it!

Have you ever had Spanish food or drink? Tortilla or Hot Chocolate and Churros?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Oranges & Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement’s. Say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Oranges in Spain!
Oranges in Spain!

So the last few weeks, I told you about our trip to Madrid, but did I tell you that we went to Seville too?!

Seville!

Ah Seville!

Let me just say that our visit to Seville was the first of its kind!

I know!

We were lucky then that one of our blogger friends KemKem and her Italian husband from – Next Bite of Life – very kindly offered to host us while we there.

Thank you so much guys!

The "Tall Young Gentleman" on his birthday, in Spain. Gosh! He's 14 now. Yikes!
The “Tall Young Gentleman” on his birthday, in Spain.
Gosh! He’s 14 now. Yikes!

When travelling to destinations, I don’t make it a part of my trip to particularly follow a festival, on the other hand, I have followed a piece of Art around the world, but that’s another story..!

In this case, not only was it during the birthday of “The Tall Young Gentleman” who happened to be 14 years old (proud mum here!), but it also happened to be the Easter holidays too.

Now I’m not particularly religious, but the people of Spain are, and we happened to be in Seville right slap in the middle of a most important festival.

That festival called Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week or Easter!

But firstly, let’s talk a little about Seville!

SEVILLE IN GLORIOUS ANDALUSIA!

In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.
In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.

Seville is the capital city of Andalusia and was previously known as the Roman city of Hispalis although, according to legend, Seville was founded by Hercules!

Seville has a population of about 703,000 people and is the fourth (4th) largest city in Spain! It’s Old Town is marvellous and is an area of only 4 square kilometres but has three (3) UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!
On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!

Seville is a river destination leading to the Atlantic Ocean and in fact, is the only river port in Spain! It’s a beautiful city deriving its exotic nature from its Moorish roots and the trans-atlantic trade after the discovery of the Americas, art, literature, and architecture, and the Spanish Golden Age.

I’d always known that Seville was a place of history, but I had no idea how much interest and importance Seville had, and this was revealed by our friends.

They took us on a private tour of a hidden place called the Italica Archaeological Complex.

THE ITALICA ARCHAELOGICAL COMPLEX

Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

Wow!

I had no idea!

I had absolutely no idea that hidden in Seville was the first permanent Roman settlement in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and the cradle of the emperor Trajan, who was born there in the year 53 AD, and his successor, Hadrian!

If I’d known that a Roman settlement was in Spain, I’d had gone to Seville much sooner!

Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

I mean, my interest was piqued as I’m from Manchester – a Roman civilian settlement called Mancunium in 79 AD. I went to the University of Chester – a Roman fort called Deva Victrix in AD 79. And even my husband from Osnabrück, was born in a city which successfully won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest against the mighty Roman army, in 9 AD!

It was surely meant to be!

In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

The Roman city of Italica was established in 206 BC for the soldiers injured in the Battle of Ilipa, and soon became a city of capital importance between 206 BC and 138 AD, after the reign of that most significant Roman emperor – Hadrian – of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England!

The Italica represented the majesty of the Roman city, clearly visible in the layout of its’ streets, and its’ public and private buildings, which were integrated into an exceptional landscape that was Roman town planning.

All roads eventually, lead to Rome!
All roads eventually, lead to Rome!

Even as a little girl, I had always been impressed by the ingenious of the Romans, and the Italica was no exception!

I mean, there was a Roman amphitheatre, the fully existing tiles of quite a few Roman baths, Roman streets, Roman courtyards, even a House of Birds and a Planetarium.

Astounding!

WHAT SHALL I DO IN THE “OLD TOWN” OF SEVILLE?

 

At the Cathedral in Seville.
At the Cathedral in Seville.

Sadly, we only had three (3) days in Seville and so on our last day, we spent all day and pretty much most of the evening, in the Old Town of Seville. And this is what we did:

  • Use public transport: Our friends lived in the suburbs of Seville, so we took the underground metro into “town.” It was pretty easy to use so we bought one way tickets costing just €1.60 each.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
  • Join a free walking tour: I’m a sucker for free walking tours as well as paid tours…! so we contacted a company in Seville called Pancho Tours. Our guide was called Rafael and he was great and rather funny! When it comes to free walking tours, I have my favourites, but it’s always good to mix and match so that everyone gets a free chance, and as many local people as possible, get our custom!
  • Learn about the history of Spain.
  • Go gaga at the fact that Seville has not one (1) but three (3), UNESCO World Heritage buildings!
  • Visit the official tomb of Christopher Columbus, or so they say….!
Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!
  • Drink! Seville is a hot place!
  • For goodness sake, wear a hat and cover yourself with suncream! I’m dark-skinned, but even I wouldn’t mess about with the sunshine!
  • Go all romantic and hire a horse and carriage. Oh go on! You know you want to!
  • Visit the Cathedral.
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville. Go on! You know you want to!
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville.
Go on! You know you want to!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
  • Admire the many churches and chapels in the city.
  • Take lots and lots of photographs!
  • Go swimming in the Guadalquivir River.
Hire a rowing boat.
Hire a rowing boat.

 HOLY WEEK IN SEVILLE!

Jesus at Easter. In Seville.
Jesus at Easter.
In Seville.

If you’ve never seen a group of people, in hoods, and walking all over town, you’re in for a shock!

I observed this personally, when I first visited Spain, many, many years ago.

I’m not American. I’m British, but I’ve seen the films and read the history of the atrocities of slavery. And believe me, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all those hooded parades, and people were smiling and playing instruments!

I was shocked!

The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville. I was shocked!
The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville.
I was shocked!

So this time around, I wasn’t in the least surprised, still slightly uncomfortable mind, when I observed a whole array of hooded people in Seville. In a variety of colours. Some of them children. And many of them members of the Spanish priesthood! I even saw a few of them queuing up to take a bus!

All of this, was a result of Holy Week.

GOLLY! WHAT’S HOLY WEEK ALL ABOUT THEN?

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Well, Holy Week or Semana Santa in Spain, is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town, during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

Phew!

The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety, relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities, stemming from the late Middle Ages (1350), to date. Think the Illuminati, Free Masons, etc. Membership is open to any Catholic person, and family tradition is an important element to become a member or “brother.”

Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla and is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals, the other being the Feria de Abril (April Fair), which follows two weeks later.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Semana Santa de Sevilla features the procession of pasos, floats of life-like wooden sculptures, scenes of the events of the Passion, and images of the grieving Virgin Mary. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces, as well as being culturally and spiritually important to the local Catholic population.

Members of the brotherhood can be recognised by the distinctive cloaks and hoods of each procession. The ones we saw had tunics and hoods with conical tips, that were used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. Most of the robes tended to be purple, black and alarmingly, white!

Historically, the robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla! © Peter Turnley/Corbis.
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
© Peter Turnley/Corbis.

After exploring Seville, we noticed a high number of Spanish people smartly dressed and full of excitement.

The women were wearing black dresses with a mantilla which is a black lace, silk veil or shawl, that is worn over the head and shoulders, in a high comb called a peineta, and black shoes. All the men wore suits and even the children were smartly dressed, with practically every girl wearing a Sunday Best dress, tights and shiny patent shoes, and almost every boy wearing a suit, a tie and suede shoes. Honestly, it reminded me of my old independent private school uniform!

We decided to follow them.

They led us back into the centre of Seville where practically every road and side-street was closed to traffic. Chairs were lined across the roads, screens were put up, and TV cameras and stages were set.

Why not climb up the Cathdral Tower, in Seville?
Why not climb up the Cathedral Tower, in Seville?

We wanted to climb to the top of the Tower for the sunset view, but due to security, everything had been closed down, police officers were everywhere, and if you hadn’t got a ticket, you wouldn’t be allowed into the cathedral.

However, I managed to sneak in with the flow of the congregation, and observe a little bit of the ceremony and service, before it got too crowded!

The atmosphere was electric, and the streets were buzzing.

Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.
Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.

At one point, we were on the front row of the procession and watched the brotherhood as they held candles and went barefooted, on the warm streets of Seville!

In centuries past, these people would also carry shackles and chains on their feet as self-punishment and penance!

It was all rather interesting but as it began to get dark, we decided to leave the locals to it.

Ah well!

 IS IT WORTH GOING TO SEVILLE?

The bells of Seville.
The bells of Seville.

The city of Seville has beauty, Arabic architecture and both Jewish and Moorish influences. It has brilliant weather and fabulous food. It also has a river to recommend it. And bells!

Seville is pretty awesome.

And you heard it here first!

Spanish monuments of yore!
Spanish monuments of yore!

This article isn’t sponsored and the fruity time that I had in Seville, is my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on Britain!

Sometime between now and May 1st, I’ll be visiting the interactive exhibition Discover Mexico or Entdecke Mexiko taking place on Washingtonplatz. It’s free to the public. Go see!

On April 18th, I’m going to be interviewed by a German TV station, about the 5th wedding anniversary of our very own William & Kate!

On April 21st, Queen Elizabeth II will be 90 years old. Hurrah! Ra! Ra!

To celebrate this most prestigious event, I’ll be attending a Gala Show Celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. A Dinner for the Queen performance at the Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin with the talented Jack Woodhead and “a hint of gin and tonic!”

It’s going to be ridiculously exciting, so you’d better hurry up and get your own ticket!

April 23rd will mark William Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death with a very special event – Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, hosted by David Tennant! There will be live broadcasting all over the world and Berlin is going to be one of the lucky cities. Yay!

On April 27th, I’ll be attending STRICTLY STAND-UP – The English Comedy Night Show!

I can hardly stand it!

Berlin is going to be so much fun, so if you’re in town, come and join us!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you must be bonkers!

Watch this space!

Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!
Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Have you ever been to Seville? Would you choose an orange or a lemon?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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72 hours in Madrid – 72 things to do! Oh God!

The magnificent Don Quixote in Madrid!
The magnificent Don Quixote in Madrid!

I’m back in town!

I returned from our Spring trip to Spain and Portugal.

Just a week ago.

It feels like a month!!

That happens to you when you travel as much as I do and then return home, ‘cos there’s just so much to dooooooo!

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There's just so much to dooo!
The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done. There’s just so much to dooo!

Anyhoo, just in case you missed it all, here’s a reminder:

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.

Now if you recall, I told you that last year, I had been to Spain too and

It.

Was.

A.

Disaster!

What. A. Disaster!
What. A. Disaster!

Here’s why:

Now returning back to Spain was doubly important ‘cos it was pretty traumatising.

Not only did I have to go through a flight delay with Vueling before I got to Spain last year, but I went through a horrendous flight delay with Norwegian, on the way back to Germany too!

You really couldn’t make it up.

You really couldn’t make it up. I had a most unpleasant time!
You really couldn’t make it up.
I had a most unpleasant time!

The fact is, whenever you go through an unpleasant time, it leaves a slight taste in your mouth and then you have a negative image of that destination.

The fact is, you begin to think it was that place rather than that airline!

Spain is a great country to go to, and Barcelona is just a thrill.

I reeeeeally do like Barcelona and didn’t want last years’ drama, to spoil the good time that I DID have in Spain, cue Spain again this year!

Oranges in Spain!
Oranges in Spain!

Spain deserved a second chance!

Now, I’ve only actually been to Madrid once before, and when we did. We almost got robbed!

This time around, we were only in Madrid for three (3) days or 72 hours, and things were much better!

Read on!

72 HOURS IN MADRID – 72 THINGS TO DO! OH GOD!

Madrid! Madrid! In Spain!
Madrid! Madrid!
In Spain!
  1. If you’re flying into Madrid, take the Línea Exprés or the Airport Express bus which is easy to use. It costs just €5.00 per passenger and you can pay for it on the bus! The express bus runs from the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport to the Atocha-RENFE transport hub in Madrid city centre, and takes roughly 40 minutes.
  2. Check into your hotel. Even though Madrid is expensive, I still think it’s best to stay in the centre rather than the suburbs, as it’s more economical in the long run, with your time! I finally managed to find a hotel that could fit the three (of) us into one (1) room, was within walking distance of the sights and only cost €88.00 per night! It wasn’t of the quality that I’m used to, but was a hostal, Spanish in style and definitely did the job! I’m not going to write about the hostal on my blog, but if you want the name, just contact me via the usual way!
  3. Walk around to get your bearings.
  4. To feel welcome in Spain, first and foremost, follow the locals and try out the tapas.
  5. After that, learn the origin and history of tapas.
  6. Take a walking tour to get the lowdown and the ins and outs of Madrid. You all know how I loooove a walking tour…!
  7. Or simply stroll around. You know how I slather over a ramble or two ..!
  8. Find yourself a good hotel that won’t cost the bank and is in the city centre.
  9. Go to a flamenco show. It’s a rustic type of Spanish Romany dance and full of emotion.
  10. Drink up and try the local Tinto de Verano. It’s a bit like sangria, but refreshingly better!
  11. If all else fails, just go for the sangria itself. It’s cheap. It’s local. What more do you want?!
  12. Visit the best museum that Madrid, if not Spain, has! Yes, the Museo Nacional Del Prado. The Museo del Prado has the largest and most important collection of Spanish paintings in the world! It was marvellous, we spent about four (4) hours there, and enjoyed it very much!
  13. If you have a student card, bring it with you as there are student discounts galore, or free entry in pretty much every government building.
  14. Bring the family as Spain loves children and large families. In fact, visitors with “large families” could get into some museums either at a huge discount or for free!
  15. Go to the centre of Madrid which I would consider to be the Plaza Mayor.
  16. Take along your camera as everywhere you look is pretty photogenic.
  17. Buy yourself a spanish hand fan known as an abanico.
  18. If you like art then you won’t be disappointed in Madrid’s Avenue of Art which consists of the Prado, the Reina Sofia, the Thyssen museums and the Caixa Forum architectural foundation.
  19. Look for Salvador Dalí. Dalí was a master of surrealism, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and can be found in unusual spaces everywhere in Madrid and all over Spain!
  20. Go to the Reina Sofia Museum, which is home to one of the most important collections of Spanish art, from both the 20th and 21st centuries. Sadly, I didn’t have time to do so on this visit, but YOU should!
  21. I’m not one to judge but if you want to experience a torrero or bull-fighting, then Madrid is the place to do it! I went on my very first visit to Spain. It was heart-breaking and I wouldn’t go again, but I can see why Spanish people do. It was pretty much a local outing with families on a day out, eating their sandwiches!
  22. Visit the Palacio Real de Madrid or the Royal Palace which is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family.
  23. Look up and observe the neo-classical buildings such as the 1806 mansion that now houses the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum!
  24. Try your voice at the Royal Opera House otherwise known as the Teatro Real.
  25. Have a meal at the Sobrino de Botín. Founded in 1725, it is the oldest restaurant in the world and is even in the Guinness Book of Records!
  26. Learn about the Spanish Inquisition because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
  27. Check out Madrid’s amazing architecture.
  28. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens.
  29. Get dreamy walking through the garden statutes of the old kings and queens in the neoclassical-style Sabatini Gardens.
  30. Hire yourself a rowing boat and sail on the Retiro Park Lake.
  31. Take photographs of the pigeons but try not to feed them, except if there’s a festival in town!
  32. Admire all the beautiful art in the ceilings of ancient buildings.
  33. Be astounded by the history of the Spanish Civil War.
  34. Learn about Spain’s Arab history.
  35. Visit the Moorish ruins.
  36. Go see the original Jewish Quarters.
  37. Go to a local tavern and get drunk on beers that cost just 50 cents a glass!
  38. Learn about Don Quixote and the climax and decline of Spain’s golden age.
  39. Learn all about Spain’s dictators and despots.
  40. Understand the passion of Spanish music.
  41. Learn Spanish.
  42. Take a bus city tour as there are many to choose from.
  43. If you’re going to visit many sights, get a Madrid Card.
  44. Get metro tickets if you want to move around. Single tickets are a mere €1.50 and are easy to use.
  45. Go to the El Rastro flea market – Madrid’s oldest and most iconic street market for knicks and knacks. Open only on Sunday!
  46. Get a snack at any local street or farmers’ market.
  47. Be a monk for a day and visit the many monasteries and convents in Madrid.
  48. Visit the Temple of Debod or the Templo de Debod which is an ancient Egyptian temple which was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid!
  49. If you’re into football (soccer) then the holy grail Real Madrid Club de Fútbol otherwise known as Real Madrid FC and a visit to the football stadium, is a must.
  50. For that delicious taste of goodness, go to a chocolatería and get yourself a local titbit known as a churros con chocolate, which is a  churro dipped in a lovely thick cup of dripping hot chocolate. More about that in a few weeks!
  51. Check out the night life in Madrid.
  52. Spanish people eat late, join them and go to a restaurant that is busy with Spanish locals.
  53. Try something new.
  54. Take photographs at night.
  55. Say Hola to a stranger!
  56. Buy a few beers to take to your hotel but remember, no alcohol can be sold at a supermarket, after 22:00!
  57. Go to a wine bar at midnight.
  58. Take a photograph with a headless man or “a human statute”!
  59. Watch out for the outrageous prices of freshly pressed juice. In some cases, as much as €4.00 per glass!!
  60. If you’re not a vegetarian, gorge yourself on as many slices of meat as you wish. At some point, even our teenage boy thought that it was too much…
  61. If you’re a vegetarian. Ah well…! Or check out what Franca & Dale have to say!
  62. If you’re at a local bar, make sure that they serve you the accompanying tapas… which in some cases is just a tincan of chips or some sort of salami.
  63. Wear suncream and take a hat. It was raining while we were in Madrid, but it’s usually, very, very hot!
  64. If you’re short on funds, most museums and art galleries, open their doors free to the public from 18:00 – 20:00. Some of them even earlier, and many on Sunday. Prepare to queue!
  65. Respect the fact that Spain is a catholic country and takes its’ religion quite seriously.
  66. Watch out for parades and festivals. Everytime that I’ve been to Spain, there was always something going on..!
  67. Drink the Asturian Cider and try out the Spanish tradition where dry sidra is served by a peculiar “throwing” method, in which an expert escanciador (waiter) will pour the drink from a great height, splashing it onto the side of the glass to aerate it, giving it a mousse-like texture akin to champagne. I’m told that it can only be found in certain parts of the country, poured in a certain way, collected in a glass, and drunk straight from the barrel!
  68. Go to a local tavern where the eating area is at a hidden area at the back of the bar, nobody speaks English, and the fixed “menú del día”or menu of the day was just €13.50 for three (3) courses and a huge glass of wine. Olé! !
  69. Make sure to try the paella because if you haven’t tasted the real stuff, you haven’t been to Spain!
  70. Go to the Atocha Train station which is the largest railway station in Madrid and quite curious as it has a 4,000 square meter botanical tropical garden in a glass enclave that dates back to 1851! It has shops, cafés, a nightclub, and over 7,000 plants, a pond with 22 species of fish cute baby turtles! It really was such a surprise!
  71. If you’re leaving Madrid by train, ensure you leave plenty of time, as the train station has luggage security control akin to airport security. We didn’t know this and had about 20 minutes to get to our train which we couldn’t find! After much wringing of hands, and going through security control three (3) times, we finally made it with two (2) minutes to spare! Phew!
  72. There be wolves a mere 40 miles from Madrid. Go and find them!

So there you have it:

72 HOURS IN MADRID – 72 THINGS TO DO! OH GOD!

72 things to do in Madrid Oh God!
72 things to do in Madrid
Oh God!

This article is isn’t sponsored and the delightful time that I had in Madrid, is my very own!

Phew!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be telling you all about Seville and the tempting yummy food of Spain!

In April, I’ll be going to theatres, performances, shows, and concerts galore.

Yippee!

I’ll tell you all about it next week!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in April wherefore art thou! Yep! It’s the 400th birthday anniversary of William Shakespeare!

April is going to be spectacular!

Watch this space!

72 hours in Madrid - 72 things to do. Oh God!
72 hours in Madrid – 72 things to do. Oh God!

Which of these things would you do? Have you ever been to Madrid? Did you expect the Spanish Inquisition?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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