A Tale of Two Cities: Madrid and Amsterdam, Part 2 of 4

Old Town Madrid

Old Town Madrid

Madrid: Part 2 of 2

One of the best things about Madrid is the good value of eating out. As you will see, madrileños love to go out too.

Dining Out

In Madrid, the usual standard is four small meals or snacks throughout the day sandwiching the bigger late lunch. A good way to save money and not be such a tourist is to snack before and after lunch proper around 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Almost every café and restaurant offers a “menú del día” for the main afternoon meal which usually changes daily.

I am vegan and although it’s hard to adhere to this as a tourist in unfamiliar territory, I was beyond pleased with the vegan eats in Madrid! I highly recommend Rayen Vegano (Calle Lope de Vega 7). For only 12 €, I had pumpkin soup, tasty raw lasagna, a piece of exquisite carrot cake and fresh juice.

Raw lasagna at Rayen Vegano

Raw lasagna at Rayen Vegano

At the punky B13 Bar (Calle de la Ballesta 13), the menu of the day – a huge seitan steak, fries and hummus – was only 6 €. I splurged and also had a vegan organic beer called “Veer” for 3 €. This one is in the red light district of Madrid. It’s not particularly dangerous, but best not to wander around here too much. Take the direct route from Gran Via and avoid the side streets where a lot of shady characters are loitering.

Generous lunch at B-13

Generous lunch at B13 Bar

Dinner at Yerbabuena (Calle de Bordadores 3) was a real feast. My friend is gluten-intolerant and we had a pile of food that suited us both. Don’t miss the tempura-fried eggplant with sweet sauce. Original and addictive!

Wine and Tapas

The standard price for a glass of wine is 2,50 € and the usual offering is either Spanish Ribera or Rioja. I never had a bad glass of wine! Tapas, originally a saucer to cover a drink, are now bar snacks. The free nibbles you get with your first order are usually a dish of olives with wine and potato chips or peanuts with beer or a cocktail. Try some fried potatoes, patatas fritas, slightly different at each bar. So eat a big, delicious lunch and enjoy tapas bar-hopping later at night. All of Madrid will also be out until the wee hours.

Flamenco

In Spain, an absolute must is to see an authentic, non-touristy flamenco show. We had plans to go to a show late on Friday night and have some dinner at a favorite café beforehand. At the gorgeous Restaurante El Buo (Calle del Prado 10), we slipped in to see the tail end of a fantastic flamenco show while enjoying great food and wine.

Afterwards at Candela (Calle Olmo 2), we enjoyed even more stupendous flamenco and yes, drank more wine. Flamenco up close makes your heart race like the ever-quickening stomps of the dancers. The show at Candela was amazing. I couldn’t even breathe during the show, it was so arresting. A great value for 12 €.

Gardens and Parks

The botanical garden, El Real Jardín Botánico, was only 3 € and it was a lovely place to walk and recharge. Don’t miss the extensive collection of bonsai trees.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

The Parque del Retiro is huge and very popular on the weekends for families. Further east, strolling the vast Campo del Moro or the Parque del Oeste is very relaxing.

Madrid was so much more than I expected! I will be back as soon as possible, and I hope to see Seville and Lisbon too.

Next post: Amsterdam, part 1 of 2

3 responses to “A Tale of Two Cities: Madrid and Amsterdam, Part 2 of 4

  1. I wanted to say that although I enjoy everything you write, I especially enjoy your travel blogs . You really know how to bring these cities to life in your descriptions . Have you ever thought of becoming a full-time travel writer?

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    • Thank you so much, Patricia! When I was unemployed for a year last year, I tried very hard to get on with some travel guide publications that I use and admire. Some even said they liked what I wrote, but without already being a travel writer, they wouldn’t hire me. That was disheartening, but I just keep going. I write about my travels because I truly enjoy it and I want to entertain and help others. Who knows? Maybe one day, it could lead to an actual paying gig. But for now, I do it for love and I truly value the opinion of a great writer like you!

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  2. Hi Steph. Wanted to say thank you for honouring us by sending this lovely Hieronymus Bosch Post Card. Beautiful how all these little people kill and agonise each other. Glory to Christianity keeping up those good moral standards. Not mentioning the other crazy stuff going on in his pictures. Meanwhile I enjoyed the presence of you husband in my neighbourhood! I highly advise to visit Italy next time, which I think is heaven for good vegan food!
    Hugs and Cheers Sara u Frank,

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