Category Archives: Madrid

The food in Spain

Or I should say, the food that we enjoyed in Spain this trip. If you missed my intro post about our trip to Spain, you can check it out here.  For this post I thought I’d talk about the food on this trip.

We landed bright and early in Málaga, even before the sunrise, on a Friday morning. I thought that we might be able to sleep on the plane, then we’d be ready to explore Málaga a bit before being able to check into our room. Oh that was not to be and we had four hours to kill before we could finally relax. I think no more early morning arrivals for this gal.

I had a few things jotted down that we could do that morning and the times those things opened. As we deposited our bags at the hotel, the receptionist giggled a little when I asked if Casa Aranda was open. That’s our favorite churros place and we were hoping to get a table on the patio. He thought maybe but it was so early!! Like I didn’t know that, heh. We did wander over to Casa Aranda and by now it was about 7:15 and they were just setting up the patio. They guided us to a table inside and we sat there until the patio was set up. I wasn’t really hungry as they fed us something on the plane before we landed. So we each had a coffee (and the two churros that the waiter comped us!) and moved on to wait for the tourist office to open at 9:00. It was nice to sit on the plaza and people watch. It was a pleasant 75 degrees with lots of people on scooters, some runners and many birds chirping and flying around.

Finally the travel office opened and I asked all my questions about bus routes for the things we wanted to see outside of the city center. The nice gal wrote all over a tourist map showing where the bus stops were. Hubby bought some post cards and we moved on again.

Then El Corte Inglés (Spain’s biggest department store) didn’t open until 10:00 so we stopped at La Canasta for refreshment. I had my first fresh squeezed orange juice of the trip. Oh my!! You have not tasted OJ unless you’ve had this fresh squeezed stuff. I had it every. single. day. Or close to it anyway. So delicious!! I had a warm croissant with homemade strawberry jam that was also delicious.

Some eating adventures in Málaga were not as good as we had hoped. We went back to one place we had gone to in 2016 but it was not nearly as good so that was too bad. So, no photos of that food, sorry.  There was another one in Plaza de la Merced. We got the sampler tapas deal which really wasn’t that great either. I’m now having trouble remembering what all the five tapas were. We did stop at El Pimpi after climbing around at Gibralfaro then walking down the hill back to town. We had their shrimp pil pil and it was delicious. Forgot to take a photo!

We did have a great meal at Matiz, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Málaga, Molina Lario.  Alas, I only have one  photo from that evening and it was the olives and bread we enjoyed before the meal. One evening we were being particularly picky I guess because it took us over 30 minutes to settle on a place to eat. We were called in by a waitress. Many waiters in Málaga will stand on the patio looking for customers when it’s not busy and try to get you to eat at their restaurant. And so this gal spoke to us in English and we looked at the menu. Oh good, they’ve got boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar) so this place is okay. This is one of hubby’s favorite things in Spain. And they had the shrimp that he wanted. Cold shrimp that you have to peel. Not my favorite but they were good, once you got the shell off. They had a really good ensalada mixta(mixed salad) so I was happy too. We shared everything and really enjoyed that meal. The waitress spoke about four languages, or was it five? She was Italian but knew English and Spanish and I heard her speaking French to the customers at the next table. When we told her we were Americans she said she’d love to visit America but she won’t because of our so-called president. She also said she likes Americans better than the British.

Yes, back to the food.

We tried different breakfasts this time. I really liked the croissants with ham and cheese. I probably had that the most for breakfast. We ate at Lepanto, a famous pastry and sweet shop in Málaga that also has a full menu.  Loved their croissant sandwiches. We had a tortilla espanola one morning. It was a plate with two pieces so was perfect for the two of us. We also partook of the fabulous breakfast buffet at our hotel in Madrid. Did I not take photos of that either? Well, here’s the sad tale. I travelled with sore shoulders this time. I had good and bad days so I guess this affected my photo taking. I did manage to get some food photos that I’m including in the gallery below. I’m also going to include some of hubby’s photos to fill in the gaps.  I included photos of our two favorite churros places in my previous post and I’ll include them again in this gallery. They are Casa Aranda in Málaga and San Ginés in Madrid.  And of course we had fresh squeezed orange juice at both too. Oh, yum!!

Some other nice meals included a meal of tapas at Nacalú, across the street from our hotel in Málaga. We kept seeing the place fill up in the evenings and decided it must be good and it was!  We got a sampler of tapas along with our ticket to the flameco show that we saw in Málaga.  The flamenco was at Cal Y Canto and the food came from the adjoining restaurant, El Gallo Ronco. We talked about going back for another meal but we didn’t make it. I read that the cafe in the Jardín Botanico was good and since I was hungry after exploring that glorious place, I decided to try it out. Score!! I had their spinach quiche accompanied by a mixed salad with the most tasty citrus-flavored dressing. Oh my!! One last meal in Málaga was at Quitapenas on the marina. Seafood and another ensalada mixta.  See a pattern here?

We had the same meal that we had three  years ago at Café Varela, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Madrid, Hotel Preciados. They have the best paella and ensalada mixta that I’ve ever had.  I managed to get my favorite tortilla española at El Brillante in Madrid. When I ordered it the waiter asked me if I wanted a whole tortilla española.  Oh no! I only wanted one piece.  Oh “pincho” he said.  Ah yes, I forgot that part.  Oops! Delicious and as perfect as I remembered it.  We wandered around central Madrid on our last day and then began searching for a place to eat. We stood outside El Botín for a long while because I hadn’t had any lamb yet on this trip. And Botín’s lamb is fantastic!  We hemmed and hawed and decided to try something different instead of somewhere we had been before. That and I didn’t want another high priced meal. So we ended up down the street at Mirador del Arco de Cuchilleros. Since their patio was full, a good sign that it’s a good place, we ate inside which was very pleasant. Nice waitress and good service. We had another meal of tapas including boquerones en vinagre, croquetas de jamón, acetunas and chuletitas de cordero (anchovies in vinegar, ham croquetas, olives and lamb chops). Everything was delicious!  They even gave us a little salad of tomatoes and cucumbers as a free appetizer.

I hope you’ll enjoy the following gallery of the food that I did manage to photograph. And stay tuned for more posts about our trip to Spain.



Filed under Madrid, Málaga, Spain

Spain, revisited

We just returned from many adventures in Spain and I’d love to tell you all about them! We spent six nights in Málaga then three nights in Madrid.  It was magical and frustrating and beautiful and all of these things.  This was our fourth trip to Málaga and we got to explore the city further and visit new places like the automobile museum and the Jardín Botánico and we finally got to Gibralfaro, the castle at the top of the hill above the alcazaba.

It was sunny and in the mid to upper 80s every. single. day.  Hubby was in heaven, it was a tad too hot for me. But you put your hair up and just make sure you’re hydrated and take lots of refresco breaks. Because of the heat we did not go to the Alcazaba as planned and ended up paying for it but not using the ticket. We took the bus to Gibralfaro then walked down and we thought it was the trail that lets you into the alcazaba. Nope. By then we’d already climbed in the heat and we’d have had to climb up into the alcazaba. No. Time for a refresco at Pimpi. That’s the huge restaurant right next to the teatro romano. They have a nice patio and after climbing around up at the castle, the timing was good and we sat right down, ah……

We had a variety of meals and tried different breakfast items this time and made time for two of our favorite churros places.  Of course we had tapas many times and several boquerones en vinagre as that is hubby’s favorite. I tried several ensaladas mixtas (mixed salad) and my favorite, hands down, is Cafe Varela’s in Madrid. We saw a fantastic flamenco show in Málaga and it included a sampler of tapas and the food was great!! So was the flamenco. I’m so glad we did that.

We saw lots of art.  We love art. I read about and saw photos of urban art in the Lagunillas area of Málaga, to the east of Plaza de la Merced. Not the best neighborhood but they didn’t seem to mind us taking photos of the art. We naturally went to the Picasso museum in Málaga. We always go there. We love that museum! We also went to the Pompidou in Málaga, then the Reina Sofia and the Prado in Madrid. Lots of art!!

We were celebrating hubby’s retirement with this trip and we wanted to see if we could tell if we’d like living in Málaga. I do still love the city but I am no longer sure that I want to retire here.  We are rethinking our retirement plans and perhaps we spend 3 months in Málaga each year then do something else the rest of the year.  We’re able to stay for 90 days with our passports whereas if we retired there we’d have a lengthy retirement visa process. So, more to think about.

I’m going to create other posts of our trip but for now, I thought I’d share some highlights of our 10 day adventure in Spain. Be on the lookout for some more posts about España!


Filed under Madrid, Málaga, Spain, Travel

An afternoon in Madrid, España

For this week’s post in my series documenting my trip to Spain two months ago, I thought I’d show you one very pleasant afternoon that we spent in Madrid.  One of the highlights of my trip was meeting up with blogger friends and I believe Marién’s blog Te Veo en Madrid might have been the first blog that I followed several years ago when I began blogging.  Certainly it was the first blog in Spanish that I followed.  We became friends via the blogosphere and decided to meet while my family and I were in Madrid in March.  Wow, it’s already been two months ago, heavy sigh…..But, I am keeping the trip alive by relating my fun experiences and sharing photos.

Marién invited us to tour the Realistas de Madrid exhibit at the Thyssen museum so we met her there to begin our afternoon.  It’s an exhibit of many pieces of art from a group of painters and sculptors who all lived and worked in Madrid.  It’s going on until May 22 so if you’re in Madrid, do get tickets for it.  You won’t be disappointed!  Unfortunately they didn’t allow photographs so I only have two photos from just outside the exhibit:

After the exhibit Marién showed us around Las Letras neighborhood. First we saw the Congreso de Los Diputados where the attempted coup d’etat happened in 1981, while I was a student in Madrid. We continued our tour and saw many interesting shops and Marién told us that many of them change often.  We went into a shop that had handmade silk scarves that were so beautiful!!  Alas, I forgot to take photos so you’ll just have to imagine how beautiful they were.  We saw the house where Cervantes lived and died and Lope de Vega’s house and garden.  A funny aside here.  Hubby had not heard of Lope de Vega so he asked about him.  So both Marién and I said he was a famous Spanish playwright and when he asked what he wrote the only thing that came to my mind was Fuenteovejuna, a memory from over 35 years ago.  I remember my roommates from my year in Madrid were reading it for a class.  I took a brief look at his plays and poems via google and nothing looks familiar but Fuenteovejuna is emblazoned in my memory for some reason.

We talked via email about where we should eat comida (lunch) and Marién suggested one of her favorite restaurants Moratin Vinoteca Bistrot and made a reservation for us about two weeks in advance.  You must make reservations for this restaurant as it’s very popular and not very big.  The food was fantastic and the service impeccable.  If you’re in Madrid, do yourself a favor and make a reservation to eat here.  I can just about guarantee that you will enjoy it as we did.  I wrote a review on Trip Advisor.  Feel free to have a look at it via the link.

After lunch we went our separate ways but I think of that day often and I hope to meet up with Marién again when I’m next in Madrid.


Filed under Madrid, Spain, Travel

Just got home from Spain!!

Hello out there!!  I just got home from Spain and have so many tales to tell!  After I decompress and sort it all out I’ll share them with you.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride but in the meantime I thought I would share a brief snapshot of a few of our adventures.

We spent two weeks in Spain to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I had three great hotels booked and all met and even exceeded our expectations.  All the staff at every hotel were so friendly, helpful and on top of everything! We had some bumps along the way but overall it was a resounding success.  I met up with several blog and travel forum friends and ate fabulous food.  The weather was not at all ideal and was windy most of the time.  But you can’t plan on the weather and we carried on with most of our plans and had a great time.

Okay, as promised, here is a gallery of some of the things we saw.  I’ll be back soon to tell some tales.


Madrid and Toledo:

Córdoba and Barcelona:



Filed under Barcelona, Córdoba, Madrid, Málaga, Spain, Toledo, Travel

Real Jardín Botánico – Madrid, España

While planning our trip to Spain for May 2010, I read about the Real Jardín Botánico and could not believe that I never went there when I lived in Madrid as a student. I penciled it in for the end of our day at two of the three great art museums in Madrid.  I was so glad that we did, it was better than I expected and that’s always fun. Below are highlights from our visit to this peaceful oasis in the busy city that is Madrid.






There were these interesting sculptures there too:




I highly recommend this wonderful garden for anyone visiting Madrid.



Filed under Gardening, Madrid, Spain

the worst day of the trip – Toledo, May 2010

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while and I guess it’s finally time to write it out.  What was “supposed” to be a magical day on our trip to Spain in May 2010, turned into the worst day of that trip unfortunately.  It was my 50th birthday and the reason for the trip, what we had saved and saved and saved for many years to do. Not only to go to Spain to celebrate, but also to spend my birthday in the city that had enchanted me over 30 years ago, Toledo.

Ah…the best laid plans of mice and men.  This theme tends to come up over and over in my life.

About 3 hours after we arrived in Madrid, our second stop of a two week adventure in Spain, I came down with an awful cold. The next day we had planned to go to both the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Prado, and although I enjoyed both museums immensely, I was not feeling well at all. The next day we had train tickets for Toledo.  I woke up feeling even worse than the day before but we had to go to Toledo, so off we went.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad, just mostly all bad, ha ha.  I tried to make the best of it but sometimes it was just plain hard to do.  So many things were closed, the alcázar, El Greco’s house, and the one where the woman practically slammed the gate on me, the Santa Cruz museum.  I had read in a couple of different places that this museum did not close for siesta. Well, on that day it did.  Here’s a pic of the mean lady who had just closed that gate:


But the most disappointing thing that day was going to the sword maker’s shop and finding a notice (in Spanish) that his wife (we later learned it was actually his mother, his father and he have the same name) had just died and the funeral had been the previous day so they were understandably closed.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.  We soldiered on, filled up the day, and hubby did finally get to buy his sword, he just had to come back 10 months later to do it(click here to see my post of that trip).

One positive thing about that day was that there are some nice pics from this day trip and I’m sharing them here.  Starting with the newer train station built with mudejar architecture:


And the windows inside are beautiful:


Typical streets in Toledo:




The food was fabulous everywhere we went in Spain and Toledo is no exception. Here is a plate of sausage, anchoa y aceitunas (anchovies and olives), a pork and fries dish and pan (bread), always there is pan.


The alcázar, which was closed:


The most scenic countryside:


Love the mudejar architecture:




We went in the enormous and beautiful catedral, here it is from the outside(no pics allowed inside):


And then back in Madrid that evening for my birthday dinner at Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world.  Here we are toasting my 50 years:


Dinner was fabulous and I wished I had had room for dessert. Alas, it was not to be but I did start to feel just a little bit better after dinner and then the next day a bit better yet and the cold eventually went away.

The rest of the story is that we went back to Toledo the following March, had the best short trip in doing so and it made up for this one bad day I experienced there.  Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid and I recommend it highly.


Filed under Madrid, Spain, Toledo

Madrid then and now

At the end of August 1980 I embarked on a new journey.  I went to Madrid to spend my junior year in college as part of a group of about 30 students from Cal State colleges.  It was a momentous year, full of fun and new experiences.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t homesick, I certainly was.  But I did manage to have a good time and I did a bit of traveling while in Europe.  And Spain left an indelible impression on me that’s stayed with me all these years.

After one month of our curso intensivo (intensive course) and living in a dorm, we all moved to various places across the city and went to classes at the University of Madrid (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras).  I lived with 8 other people, 7 of them were students.  One was a young Japanese woman named Mitsuko who knew no English so we communicated with her in Spanish.  We occupied two apartments with 5 of us living on the 6th floor, the other 3 lived with our two señoras, who were sisters, and their mother on the 4th floor.  Our señoras fed us and washed our clothes and it was a pretty good deal, especially for the 5 of us that lived on the 6th floor. We had more independence than our roomies on the 4th floor and we really liked that.

I decided to visit the building I lived in all those years ago when my husband and I were in Madrid last March.  I had not kept in touch with my señoras so I had no idea what to expect. I bumped into a nice, older lady who was entering the building and she let me in.  I asked her if she knew Teresa y Aurora, if they still lived here.  She thought a moment and then said “Hermanas?” (sisters?) Yes!!  She knew them and yes, they still lived there!! My heart began to race I was so excited to learn this.  And then, will they remember me? It was, after all, nearly 30 years since we had seen each other.  The nice lady and I had a lovely chat and she complemented me on my Spanish and how important it is to keep it up. She told me that my señoras no longer have students living in their apartment and that they rent out 6C, the apartment that I lived in. Really, really nice lady. It was so nice chatting with her. And then we parted ways, she offered to hold the elevator for us but I preferred to take the stairs, for old time’s sake. I went up and down those stairs countless times when I lived there.

We climbed the stairs up to the 4th floor, I held my breath and knocked on 4A’s door. No answer. I knocked again.  I knocked one last time but there was nobody there.  I came so far and I didn’t get to see them.  It was so disappointing. Next, we went up to the 6th floor and knocked on 6C’s door.  A young gal answered and I began in Spanish and then realizing that she was probably American asked if she spoke English. Sure enough, she was from California so I took the easy way and spoke English with her.  I told her I had lived in the apartment 30 years ago and “would you mind if I took a look around?” She tried to explain that the place was a bit of a mess but I didn’t care, and she let me in.  How weird it was to be there after all these years.  I swear all the pictures on the walls were the same as when I lived there. And the furniture looked the same too.  I was struck with how small it was.  How did it shrink all these years later? Well, I got a little thrill seeing my old place and the gal offered to give a message to my señoras so I told her my name and I’m sure they got my message.  I also followed up with a letter a couple of months after we returned and sent a pic from 1981 and a pic of me standing in front of the stairs(above) from 2011.  I haven’t heard from them but I hope to see them the next time I’m in Madrid.

Most of the group that I lived with. Aurora is standing at left, Teresa at right. I'm the first one seated at left.

Calle de Meléndez Valdes, the street I lived on in 1980-81

Fighting the crowds at El Rastro - Madrid's weekly flea market


Filed under Madrid, Spain