On our first full day in Madrid, my boyfriend and I slept in until two o’clock in the afternoon because of the whole jet-lag thing. We set out to see some sights with museums and Buen Retiro Park on our list, and the hopes of finding some good food along the way. We stopped for coffee on our way to the large, public park and I looked up what was nearby on this new app I had found called Triposo. I tell you, this app was such a great tool! I used the one for Madrid to find sights and restaurants, but it can also be used to learn phrases in other languages, find events, and learn about your surrounding area. We decided to stop first at the Bosque del Recuerdo (or “Forest of Remembrance”). This is a beautiful olive-tree-lined memorial in the park which commemorates the victims of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid. As we walked from there to our next destination in the park (Palacio de Cristal), we passed by a man playing bagpipes. He kinda sucked but we gave him money anyway because we both like bagpipes.
We walked to the Monument to Alonso XII which was a little unexpected because we had not looked up everything that was around the park. We walked up a lane toward a fountain then saw all these steps and this structure across a pond filled with people in rented boats. When you don’t plan out your trip fully, you get the opportunity to discover little surprises. I got a tonic water at a stand nearby and we walked around the pond toward the monument. I used the Triposo app to learn about the monument’s past and what all the statues represented. Using this app (which doesn’t use your phone’s data or require wifi) was like having a personal guide, but I got to decide where to go and what to learn about. It was a getting a bit warm in the sunshine, so we snapped some standard “tourist photos” (like the one of me smiling like a royal geek in front of that smug lion statue) and rested a bit in the shade before heading back out.
As it was later in the day, we decided we’d put off the museums for the following day and try to find the Crystal Palace in the park (but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow to see those photos). I was pretty hungry by the time we finished exploring all the park had to offer, so we looked up one of the restaurants I had bookmarked beforehand. I always wish I could be more spontaneous with eating but, since I’m both Vegan and gluten-free, that just can not be the case. People worried me by saying it would be hard for me to find food in Madrid, but a few quick searches online brought up at least a dozen Vegetarian restaurants so I put my worries to rest and bookmarked some of the restaurants that looked good. One such restaurant was Rayén Vegano, a quaint little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with painted cats along the top of the kitchen and a really comfortable, homey atmosphere.
After so much walking, being seated right in front of a beer with a sign reading “sin gluten” (or “without gluten”) made me very happy. The beer was the best gluten-free beer I have ever had and I ordered an appetizer which was basically roasted potatoes with four really great dips. My main dish was a lentil salad (I got it cold because it’s more refreshing that way) and my boyfriend ordered a savory seitan dish. We both really enjoyed our food and made plans for the rest of our night while we ate.
We decided that, after a short rest at the rental, we’d head out to a Jazz Bar we had seen at the beginning of our day. This place was really neat, with black-and-white photos of old jazz musicians and great jazz music playing. I ordered a whiskey (neat) and my boyfriend got a beer. The Spaniards in Madrid don’t joke around with their alcohol and I was surprised by how much they poured me for a 4 or 5 € drink. After those drinks and conversation, we split the house special (a gin and tonic) which was very popular and served everywhere. It was pretty good, but the whiskey was better.
Tell me about a great meal you’ve had while on vacation.
Do you plan out your trips thoroughly, or do you make room for surprises?