Spending Four Days in Spain

Streets of Madrid, SpainStreets of Madrid, SpainStreets of Madrid, Spain

My first post is going to be a throwback post, only because I miss it so much lately! Plus, I’ve been seeing so many of my friends visit Spain since I got back, so it makes me miss it extra more. The first trip I took to kickoff 2017 was Spain and allow me to forever brag about this, but my airfare was $35. Yes, $35. Really. My friends and I booked a spontaneous direct getaway flight from Dallas to Madrid with American Airlines because we couldn’t miss out on such an amazing deal! I contributed a bit of my Chase Sapphire points, but the original direct flight ticket from Dallas to Madrid was still $390 anyway back then, which was outstanding. In this post, I want to share bits and pieces from my four days in Spain visiting Madrid, Ávila, Segovia, and Toledo.

The Royal Palace of Madrid
Palacio Real – The Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of MadridStreets of Madrid, Spain

Our Airbnb in Santa Ana Plaza was super convenient with major attractions within walking distance, and had plenty of options for restaurants and coffee shops. It was also about a seven-minute walk to Puerta Del Sol, which turned out to be a busy public square in the city we ended up passing by daily throughout our stay.

Pan con Tomate y Jamón Ibérico
Pan con Tomate y Jamón Ibérico – This is a Spanish-style toast that consists of bread, tomato and ham. Super simple yet yummy!
Sobrino de Botín
Sobrino de Botín, the world’s oldest restaurant and also known as one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite restaurants.
San Ginés Churros and Hot Chocolate
San Ginés chocolate in Madrid is best known for their crispy churros and thick dark hot chocolate! I went twice 🙂

We arrived in Madrid on Saturday morning, and explored the city a bit. Some attractions we hit on our first day were:
Parque del Retiro
Museo Nacional del Prado (Free for all Monday – Saturday 6pm to 8pm, Sunday and holidays from 5pm to 7pm)
Palacio Real y Jardines de Sabatini
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Bring your student ID to receive discounts on tickets)

As far as food options, we primarily relied on Yelp.
– The Paella, which I was super super super super excited about, was actually a huge disappointment. According to a local friend, Madrid is not particularly known for their Paellas. Other cities in Spain (such as Ronda) apparently have the more traditional paellas, which we hoped to find in Madrid… but unfortunately, it was a no-no.
– OJ + Pan Con Tomate y Jamón Ibérico at Café and & Tapas
– Churros at San Ginés were the best I’ve ever had. Realized the Spanish churros (the original) are completely different than what we’re accustomed to as “churros” here in America. They’re not sugar-coated at all (like the ones you see when you go to Disney Land or Six Flags) and while you may think it doesn’t taste like anything, I really liked the crisp and warm churros. And of course, dipping it in the hot chocolate just topped it all off 🙂

Madrid map Click to see the full map!

Honestly, Madrid is enough to see in a day, or a day and a half – maybe. We were on a time crunch to go to anywhere else like Barcelona, so we decided to do tours of well-known tourist spots near Madrid, which turned out to be a great way to get out of Madrid and explore a more historic side of Spain that we couldn’t quite see in Madrid. We used Viator to book two tours – 1) A full day tour of Avila + Segovia on Sunday and 2) a half-day tour of Toledo + optional flamenco show on Monday.

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain
Ávila, Spain
Ávila, Spain
Segovia, Spain
Segovia, Spain

Segovia, Spain

We spent our last day in Madrid shopping and getting souvenirs (actually the best part of the trip), got a steal on a coat at Zara (Did you know Zara is originally from Spain?), and I came back home with bottles of olive oil and a bunch of Jamón Ibérico!

Last Night in Madrid

Tips from an Owl Visit Mercado San Miguel! This is one thing I wish I had done. My parents have always told me the best way to explore a foreign country and to really get a feel of the culture is to visit the traditional supermarkets, and it really is true. This will be my biggest regret 🙁
– Airplane snacks: I never eat the snacks they provide on the plane, so I usually save them in my bag and this came in super handy when I struggled from the midday cravings during bus rides.
Think before you eat the bread: All the restaurants in Spain naturally dropped off bread at our table before we ordered. Sounds like a norm, right? But! I learned that while this is complimentary In America, it is not in Spain. Don’t be surprised if you have a few extra euros added onto your bill!
Minimum cash: You don’t need a whole lot of cash because they accept credit cards almost everywhere. I used my Chase Sapphire card 99% of the time during our trip. There’s always an option to pay in American Dollars or Euros everywhere, so see what’s the best option for you before you hit that “confirm” button.
– Drink the OJ: The orange juice I had in Spain was THE BEST, and all my friends agree with me 300%. The freshly squeezed orange juice was nothing like I’ve tasted before! I strongly recommend you get a cup for breakfast and find out what it’s like for yourself:)
Flat rate: It’s useful to know beforehand that cab rates from the airport to the city is €30 FLAT RATE!

To wrap up, here’s a video I put together using the GoPro! If you actually read this all the way, thank you for your time! (Watch in HD)