Mums’ Mini-Break in Madrid

Another mum walked by as I was typing this at E’s gymnastics place and said, “Mums’ Mini-Break in Madrid? I need one of THOSE!”

Oh you do, honey. We all do.IMG_4018You know what I love? My children. You know what I also love? Traveling without my children.

It’s been over a year since I took this trip to Madrid with two of the good friends I’ve made in London, so it’s no doubt time for another…IMG_4017Tomoko is from Australia (and Japan and Hong Kong) and Ruth is from South Africa, so we are all from different continents and now live on this one, which we think is pretty cool; we have come from such faraway places and somehow all get along so well.IMG_4045We picked Madrid because it’s quick and easy to get to from London, it’s not too huge and very walkable, and has good food, shopping, and nightlife. I had been only once before, for a weekend, when I was 20 and studying abroad in England, and visited a friend from home who was studying in Madrid.

We kicked off our mini-break on Friday afternoon by riding in a lift at Heathrow Airport with Liam Neeson.IMG_3984Tomoko and I realized it was him, and we kept making eyes at Ruth, to try to get her to notice, but she kept chatting, oblivious.

Then I snapped some sneaky phone pics, because I’m the worst.

You know how you see Liam Neeson about to board a plane and you think that’s pretty cool… but then you realize… someone is about to get TAKEN.

Fortunately, there were no thrilling emergencies on our flight, and we made it to Madrid without any of us going missing. We checked into our AirBnB apartment and then hit the pavement.

We wandered around, stopping in Plaza Major and at any other places that looked interesting.

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We went to the Mercado San Miguel for a glass of wine and some tapas, where I broke my year-plus-long dairy fast. I hadn’t been able to have dairy products while I was breastfeeding R, who was allergic to milk, but this trip marked the end of breastfeeding for R and me, and I wanted some CHEESE.

We ate dinner at La Cocina de San Anton, which has a cool rooftop terrace dining area. And more cheese. I started to fear gastrointestinal consequences.IMG_6411On Saturday morning, we got a quick sugar and caffeine high the way the locals do with cafe con leche and pastries at the counter of La Mallorquina.

We then walked over to see the palace, but felt like looking at it from the outside was good enough for our level of interest.

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Then we visited the Prado, Spain’s most famous art museum, where we took in the Greatest Hits in about two hours.

At that point, our Spanish-style breakfast of straight carbs and sugar had really worn off and we were in need of sustenance. We had a fantastic brunch at a restaurant called Ojala, which was shockingly inexpensive for the quality and quantity of food.IMG_4058IMG_4057It also boasts some very original interior design. Going downstairs to the bathroom led us to and through a sand-floor faux-beach.IMG_4067That afternoon we spent shopping (three trips to Spain in 2018 did a lot for my espadrilles and leather sandal collection).IMG_4078My favorite stop was a little outdoor jewelry market we happened upon, called Malamarket. I bought the sweetest little rainbow necklace, which reminded me to look for brightness after a storm.IMG_4084For our Saturday night out, we went to Platea, which had been recommended by one of our mutual friends. It’s a massive space (a former theatre, perhaps?) with multiple levels featuring different restaurants and bars, a stage for performances, and a club.IMG_4112We had a dinner reservation at Canalla Bistro, and had a great table overlooking the action.

There was live music, interspersed with acrobatic performances.

It was definitely a unique dining experience, and so much fun.

I wasn’t going to leave Madrid without getting some churros con chocolate, which I remembered fondly from my first trip to Madrid, so on Sunday morning we went to Chocolateria San Gines.

Our final stop for the weekend was the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Museum, which I loved. We didn’t have much time, but saw Picasso’s Guernica and some other Picasso and cubist art; some artworks by Salvador Dali and other surrealists; and artworks by Joan Miro.IMG_4150IMG_4144We had a perfectly lovely girls’ weekend in Madrid, and all weekend we kept remarking how friendly the people in Madrid are.

Then when I got home I discovered all my jewelry had been stolen out of my suitcase. (Lesson learned: I should never have put my jewelry in my checked bag and I never will again. And FYI the airlines will not repay you for it, even though it had to be one of their baggage handlers who stole it. I lost about $200 worth.)

The one thing they didn’t take, because it was still in its package and separate from my other jewelry, was the rainbow necklace.img_4645

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