Making the Most of Sunday in Madrid
It’s Sunday morning in Madrid. As it’s Sunday in Madrid, chances are, you’ve probably just rolled out of a nightclub and you’re wandering the streets. So what can you do to ease yourself into the day?
Well, you can start by getting in line at Chocolateria de San Ginés Restaurant (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5). This all-night chocolateria serves up some of the best chocolate con churros in town. Chocolate for breakfast? Wretch you might, but it’s not as sickly as it sounds, especially if you haven’t slept all night. In fact, when you feel yourself beginning to fade, this sweet, greasy dish provides the perfect pick me up.
Churros are long, crispy sticks of dough made from water, flour and salt to the same texture as doughnuts. Traditionally, the dough is poured into a pot of boiling oil until it forms a spiral, which is then cut into small sticks. When deemed fit enough for dunking, the churros are placed alongside a cup of hot, thick chocolate.
Once your sugar fix has kicked-in you and you’re back to the land of the living, you might consider taking a stroll to Plaza Mayor, where the city’s coin and stamp collectors have gathered to play swapsies. This weekly gathering is definitely a sight for sore eyes, with the four corners of the square filled with seasoned stallholders, painted mime artists and chirpy street entertainers.
Take your time to leaf through books of crisp pesetas, rare international stamp collections and pristine telephone cards. Old coins, posters, magazines and military medals are just some of the other collectibles on display.
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
Get your haggle on and head over to “El Rastro”, Madrid’s largest open-air flea market. Here it’s well worth weaving your way through the colourful muddle of 3500 stalls. You never know what kind of bargains you might uncover, from vintage designer clothing to brand new must-haves.
El Rastro market is mainly situated at Calle Ribera de Curtidores, but swallows several surrounding streets in its path. It has been up and running since the Middle Ages and was originally established on the site of the city’s tanning industry. In fact, it was these tanneries that gave the market its name. Apparently during medieval times, cattle from the city’s main abattoir used to leave a trail “rastro” of blood on the streets when being transported to the tanneries of Ribera de Curtidores Street.
Stallholders usually pack up their wares at around 3pm, perfect timing for you to grab some tapas at El Capricho Extremeno, C/ Carlos Arniches. It’s located at the end of the market – just follow the queues! For just €2 you can get a crusty slice of freshly baked bread with any tapas topping of your choice. If you’re still hungry, there are plenty of other traditional specialities to choose from including Spanish omelette (Tortilla) and pulpo (octopus).
With bellies full, you’ll be longing for a Sunday nap. Where better to flop than the aptly named El Parque de Retiro?
El Parque de Retiro was made for lazy Sunday afternoons. Located just a few steps from the Prado museum, it is one of the city’s most popular free attractions.
The park was originally built in the 1600s as a private retreat where Spanish royalty could host bullfights, pageants and mock naval battles. It was opened up for public use in the 1800s and is today famous for its picturesque boating lake, beautiful monuments, statues and whimsical architecture. During the summer months, you might be lucky enough to experience a free concert, but whatever time of year you visit, the park makes for pleasant, easy strolling.
If you’re eager to see more of Madrid without wearing your feet out, you can always cheat by climbing aboard the city’s “El Teleférico” cable car. Beginning at Paseo del Pintor, close to the Argüelles Metro Station, the cable car transports you high above the River Manzanares to the Casa de Campo Park. This is the perfect place to get some great aerial shots of the Plaza de España and the Egyptian temple of Debod. The journey is quite gentle, with the cabins never going above a maximum height of just 40 metres. The 2.5-kilometre route lasts around 10 minutes and includes an audio commentary of the attractions you pass along the way. The tour ends at a restaurant and bar complex where you can relax and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Teleferico cable-car rides generally run from midday until 8.30pm in the summer months and 6.30pm during winter.
Fiona Hilliard is a travel writer and blogger from Dublin, Ireland.