Girls Weekend in Madrid

Trip Start Apr 11, 2008
Trip End Jul 03, 2008

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Where I stayed
Aparthotel Suites Barrio de Salamanca

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Madrid,
Friday, June 13, 2008

The weekend of June 13th, my friend, Cynthia came over from NYC to visit me in Madrid.  Friday the 13th must be a lucky day for us as as soon as she got to Madrid, the previously cool and rainy weather turned warm and sunny. 

Friday afternoon, I met her at my apartment and we headed out to lunch at a little outdoor cafe just down from my apartment.  It was so nice to have company from home!  After lunch, we headed out to walk around in the beautiful weather.  We shopped, talked and stopped at Starbucks.  After a few hours, we decided to head back to my apartment to start getting ready for our big night out on the town.  I had planned quite a night for us, and typical with the Spanish schedule, we were going to have caņas (which ended up as pre-dinner cocktails) around 8:30pm, then dinner was a 10pm, then to a club after that. 

Since the Spanish women tend to dress very casually in Madrid, but being from NYC and Atlanta, Cynthia and I decided to ignore the local trends, put on our American dresses and heels and headed out the door.  The place I had selected for cocktails was a bar called Del Diego, located in the Chueca district.  It was an easy walk to the restaurant and supposedly was renouned in Madrid for having the most talented bartenders, and as such, the best drinks.  Well, true to it's reputation, Del Diego delivered the best mojitos either of us had ever tried.  Plus, a couple of bowls of salty snacks and a very nice ambience.  After a couple of drinks, we headed to the restaurant for dinner. 

Chueca is considered the gay area in Madrid, and with that, it is also considered to have some of the trendiest restaurants in the city.  "Divina la Cocina" had been highly recommended to me, so we went.  When we arrived, we were seated at a very nice corner table, and the manager/owner (not sure what his actual role was) came over to welcome us, and within in seconds he realized we were American and started speaking to us in perfect American English.  As it turns out, this gentleman was from Illinois and had lived in Madrid for 15 years.  It's always nice to know the management when you try a new restaurtant because after that, he sent us out free appetizers (homemade Spanish "croquetas", which basically are like more flavorful flash-fried mashed potatoes), which we enjoyed with our wine.  The menu at this place was very non-traditional Spanish - in fact, it was very adventurous with menu items like kangaroo and rabbit.  But, when our entrees came (Cynthia had the monkfish and I had, of course, the kangaroo), they were beautifully prepared and truly delicious.  Then later our new friend sent out 2 huge pieces of pie/cheesecake for dessert, which we were too stuffed to take more than an obligatory bite. 

After dinner we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and tried to find the place I had selected for later.  It was called, "The Penthouse" at the ME Hotel located in the Plaza de Santa Ana (pronounced "Santana" by locals).  Apparently, this rooftop bar had the best view in Madrid, but I had heard the lines (or "ques") can get quite long if you get there after 2am.  Since it was still reasonably early, we headed over.  Well, as soon as we arrived, the line was out the door and around the corner.  Not exactly in the mood to wait in a long line just to get our next cocktail, we decided on Plan B.  Inside the ME Hotel (which is owned by Cindy Crawford's husband, as I understand it), there was a very nice bar, so we stopped in there.  After being followed around by an Irishman so intoxicated from his brother's bachelor party that he couldn't keep his eyes open, we decided to head out and try our luck someplace else.  By this point, we were getting a little tired.  The Spanish timetable for going out at night, as I've mentioned so many times before, is incredibly late compared to what we Americans are used to
So, we walked down the street and popped in one of the miriad of clubs and discos in the area, had one more "copa" and decided to call it a night.

The next day CG and I walked all around Madrid, visiting the shops around the Puerto del Sol and the Plaza Mayer.  We hopped on the Madrid Vision bus tour - which I highly recommend not only as a great way to see the high points of the city, but also as a means of transportation.  By the end of the afternoon, we headed back to my apt to relax and get ready for that evening's activities.

Before dinner, we made one last attempt to stop  by the Penthouse Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail.  This time, there was no line (it was only 9pm!).  The views were spectacular.  We had a cocktail, took some pics, then headed over to the restaurant for dinner.  For Saturday night, I had made reservations at a famous restaurant called "Botin", which is actually in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the oldest restaurant in the world.  It has been in the same location since the early 1700's in downtown Madrid -near the Plaza Mayor.  Botin is known for it's traditional Spanish cuisines, but is especially famous for it's roasted suckling pig and roasted suckling lamb dishes.  CG and I ordered one of each and a bottle of wine - it definitely lived up to it's reputation.

After dinner, we headed over to La Latina to a popular disco known for it's 80's music and drag queens, Berlin Cabaret.  The crowd, the music, and the atmosphere were perfect.  We had one or two "copas" and danced for a while finally leaving "early" at around 3:30am. 

Sunday morning came a little too early for both of us, but sometime that afternoon we headed out to La Latina - an area in Madrid that I have mentioned before - to meet my friend, Susana for lunch, some sightseeing and maybe a Sangria or cana.  Susana is such a nice hostess.  We walked around the open air market which is held in that area every Sunday until 3pm.  Then headed to a tapas bar for lunch.  This particular tapas bar specialized in Pinchos (elaborate tapas from the Northern part of Spain).  These were the tapas that we are used to in the US...small plates of very artisticly done, superbly seasoned seafoods, pasta, salads, etc... We ordered several plates and shared with canas (small draft beers).  Susana then led us around a tour of the area.  The weather was very hot and dry, but it was a nice walk in the shade.  After an hour or so and an ice cream for dessert, we parted ways and headed back to my apartment.

That evening Cynthia and I decided we were in the mood for sushi. Although almost everything is closed on Sundays, we managed to find a sushi bar down near the Plaza Mayor.  The interesting thing is that most rolls that we enjoy in the U.S. are not actually Japanese.  So, there were few of my old favorites at this little sushi bar.  Also, I found it a little comical that the Japanese owners of this sushi bar (which was about the size of a big walk-in closet) spoke Japanese, and broken Spanish - so communicating with them in any language either of us could speak was a challenge.  Luckily, the food was good, and after an exhausting weekend, CG and I headed back to my apartment.  She flew out the next morning back to NYC, and I had to head to work.

It was great to have someone to enjoy this fabulous city with for a change!

Signing off for now...Sta-lo!

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