A three-day girls trip to Madrid… with kids!

by Monday, July 9, 2018

Guest Traveller Naomi Capomolla, the Melbourne-based co-founder of www.littlefinders.com.au, had thought her three-day stay in Madrid was going to be girls-only… A difficult task to pull off accompanied by children! Still, she made the best of it, spending quality time with her kids, mum, an Italian friend and her best friend. Let’s find out what this multi-generation party of six came across…

Naomi Capomolla (middle) and four of her five travelling companions.

Doodles on Bikes

Madrid, Spain’s capital and largest city, is vibrant and energetic, quintessentially Spanish and easy going. For our squad of girlfriends, mothers, daughters and a son, this city catered for all of us. Public transport coupled with plentiful walking were our modes of transport to explore this wonder. If I didn’t have my twins on board, I would have definitely ridden a bike, also. Our explorations led us to a wonderful discovery on Day 1…

As we strolled along the main street, Gran Via, hundreds of nude cyclists rode past! They were highlighting  the vulnerability of cyclists, protesting the city’s ‘car culture’ and the use of oil, and celebrating ‘body freedom’. Whilst more than 100 people stripped off and rode through Madrid for the annual ‘World Naked Bike Ride’, all I could hear were screams of laughter from my four-year olds as they feverishly pointed and exclaimed: “Doodles on Bikes! Look how many doodles on bikes there are Mummy!”. The giggling continued for the rest of the afternoon, as did their fascination with how the men rode their bikes naked – and if it hurt them at all. On a serious note, World Naked Bike Ride events take part in over 20 countries worldwide and for this Spanish capital, it was to demand increased safety and respect from car drivers.

Food

Now, let me get deep into this city. Food. I was on a culinary mission. Paella, Churros, Sangria, Tapas: It all had to get in my belly. And the best place to find all this: Mercado de San Miguel. This buzzing market and food haven in Palacio delivered all these flavours for us and more. The smells had me salivating yet the chaos had me needing a drink by midday. Paella. Tick. After walking past great slabs of ham hanging from ceilings and shop windows, my last request here was to sit at a bar and grab a taste of it, being shaved down, one slice at a time. A moment never to regret. There is ham everywhere. Do yourself a favour and taste it. Kids were becoming testy (I didn’t really blame them after many kilometres walked with many more to do), so a vino bianco just took the edge off for me and some churros con chocolate for the kids certainly bought all of us extra time.

Plaza Mayor and Arquitectura De Feria

Only a short walk from the market – fortunately for us – was the Plaza Mayor. And another bonus: It was Sunday, and the Arquitectura De Feria was on. This free fairground of fantastical rides had us delve into their world of illusion, full of peculiar machines and surreal artefacts. The constructions are born from the ingenuity and imagination of Jorda Ferrer and his team, who poetically reuse objects in disguise to give them a new life in an engineering feat. So, for the kids, they chose to ride a particular ferris wheel – Tingalya – whereby they sit on a toilet seat.

Other rides had vehicles suspended by chains that hung from a tree, and an original carousel with rockets, aeroplanes and horses. We all stepped back in time with a walk through this fair which was overflowing with imagination in this grand old Plaza.

Palaces

A visit to the Royal Palace had the bells from Almudena Cathedral (directly opposite) ringing for a good 10 minutes. As loud and exciting as this was, I closed my eyes for a mere moment and thought about the closeness this city has to London (very) in its beauty, progressiveness and regal ‘feeling’. I can only imagine the goings-on in this former home of the Spanish Royal family. The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) is no longer the official residence of his Majesty the King of Spain, but rather where state ceremonies, official banquets and other state functions take place. The King now lives in Zarzuela Palace, which is just outside of Madrid.

The Big Red Bus

For our family, we love jumping on a bus to see the sights of a city. The kids get such a buzz and for me, well there are no complaints, such as “I’ve got sore legs”, or “I’m hungry”. We just sit there, look and listen. The Hop-on Hop-off bus usually means bums firmly stuck to the seats for the duration of its tour. Why? It’s timeout for me, rest time for kids, and quite often it provides more tips than I had researched. It’s easy. And when you’re in a city with kids, that’s exactly what you need. Fun and easy things to do. A win-win for all.

I’m not going to lie, travelling with kids can be hard – very hard. Our last day in Madrid was a good one. We bussed, we walked, we found many artistic princesses scattered in plazas and shopping strips, we saw the Real Madrid stadium and ate delicious tapas and still had a skip in our step at the end of the day.

Back to Food

Let me finish on food. How can I not? After our daily Portugese tart (a melt-in-the-mouth must-have, every day), I was on the hunt to find the most delicious tapas for dinner to complete our stay. And a little gem we found. La Sifoneria is one of those, off the main street, in a cool area, with a fabulous atmosphere, presenting an array of delicious cocktails accompanied by an incredible menu. Hola. I’m home.

 

Memories from a Girls trip (and 1 boy) in Madrid

Plazas, Parks, Princesses, Doodles, Art, Shopping, Food, Paella, Tapas, Bars, Playgrounds, Churros, Laughter and a siesta if you care for one. Honestly though, my hot tip is to walk through Madrid and each time you see a plaza, sit down and soak in this wonderous city.

 

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