So, Kemey and I ‘did’ Madrid in mid August. And in our rev up for the trip we got a lot of “it’ll be too hot!” and “nobody’ll be there!” Was it hot? Oh sure, but it was a dry heat. And the nights (when this vibrant city really comes to life) were absolutely lovely. Obviously, I wouldn’t have wanted to be digging ditches in the noonday sun, but sightseeing, bar hopping, shuffling through museums … all that stuff … these were all wonderful. The flamenco got a bit sweaty to be honest – but it was a good sweat. As for all the Madrileños leaving town, it didn’t seem like that to us. We were in town for the Fiestas de la Paloma (part of Kemey’s planning – I can take no credit). As one of Europe’s biggest street parties, lots of people reckon it’s the most important festival in Madrid, if not the whole of Spain. We had a blast wriggling our wee hours way through the neighbourhood of La Latin – nexus of the celebrations – and being part of the festivities.
I thought it was important to address the ‘visiting cities in august’ issue with respect to our recent experience in Madrid. I’ve certainly found myself in the past arriving in summer dead zones where everything but tourist attractions were closed as well as the converse of being somewhere at the height of a season to realise everybody else in the world had the same bright idea of going there and jamming up an otherwise chilled out place to create a less than ideal destination whatever one’s pursuits. But the Madrid we visited a few week’s back was as awesome as we had hoped it would be.
Maybe this was because of the Paloma festival? Maybe so many locals have been feeling the effects of economic doom and gloom that they had a staycation this year? Maybe Madrid’s such a big and happening city that an out of towner simply wouldn’t notice any difference? Maybe lots of visitors for abroad filled whatever void might have been left by a locals’ exodus to the beach? I don’t know. I had only been to Madrid once before, about a decade ago around Christmastime. During this last trip, the city seemed much more alive than my first time, but not necessarily overrun by too many tourists or anything like that.
The mood at The Roof at the Hotel ME Madrid was one of pleasure as usual in any case. Kemey claimed to have had her best meal of the year there. And I must confess I adored every last bite of my over the top Kobe beef and foie gras hamburger! Just as over the top was the view from The Roof with pretty Plaza de Santa Ana just below and the vast spread of Madrid spanning outward from this popular little square.
Anyway, while I’m fessing up to the weekend’s indulgences …
More amazing activities on our own admittedly touristic trail of this scenic city included mandatory stops at the Prado (I couldnt’ get enough of this museum’s amazing collection) and the Reina Sofia Museum, if only for the chance to see Picasso’s stirring Guernica up close for ourselves. Our afternoon zoom through town with Madrid Segway was an embarrassingly good time. I had no idea how much ridiculous fun riding a Segway could be.
One indulgence to brag about was our fabulous hotel. We could not have been more pleased with the comfort, service, and location of five star Hotel Hospes Madrid. I’d love to stay there again and have no qualms recommending it to anybody looking for a quality place to stay.
One more post in my my Did Madrid miniseries to follow soon!