On our second full day in Madrid we headed to the other side of the city to check out The Royal Palace, which formerly housed the King and Queen, who have since moved to (marginally) simpler living. After our tour of the Palace we wandered through the cobble stone streets of old town Madrid and Plaza Mayor before breaking for lunch at Mercado de San Miguel. We were initially taken aback at how new the market was and were skeptical of the recommendation from the guidebook. However, after walking through the stalls, taking in all the food, and trying a few things we were very impressed by the gourmet quality of everything. We also fell in love with the atmosphere as we watched the locals wander the market with a glass of wine and catch up with friends and colleagues. After some “table-stalking” we found a free spot and once the stroller was parked we alternated staying at the table while the other went and found something new to bring back and try. The locals were pros starting with a glass of wine to drink while wandering around chatting and trying small bites designed to eat and walk. If they wanted something more they stopped at a stall with a standing bar, pointed to something under the glass, ate it standing, and moved on with wine in hand. We thought the whole scene looked like great fun, and after a stop back at the hotel for an afternoon nap we headed right back to Mercado de San Miguel to try it “Spanish style.” With a glass of wine in one hand and the stroller in the other we wandered and ate, just like the real people, (you know the ones without strollers and toddlers). It was a high note and a great note to end on as left Madrid the next morning.
Guidebooks – Since we were traveling light we kept our books to a minimum. For this leg of our trip we used Fodor’s Spain and were very happy with it. We never felt the need for a city specific guide. We have now used it for five trips to Spain and never needed anything more. For European travel in general Fodor’s are my go-to Travel Books.
The Royal Palace – It’s one of the big sites to see and interesting (but Europe has lots of Palaces and I wouldn’t go to Madrid just for this). We arrived early and were there when it opened and didn’t have to do much waiting. Check out there site for current hours. It can be toured in a few hours and there is an audio guide available. Family friendly note: There is a small quiet playground located right next the palace. It is both small enough and quiet enough to be missed but if you are with small children that are going a little crazy after being hushed the whole time you were in the palace, it’s worth finding to let them run free for a it. — Should See
Mercado de San Miguel – This is a much different market than the one in Barcelona but wonderful in its own right. When visiting Madrid a year later with just myself and my daughter we went back again, (without the stroller), and had a great time. Don’t be scared off if you are traveling with kids. — If you like trying different food this is a Must See