Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

Thursday

The AVE from Malaga to Madrid was such a luxury compared to the stress and unpredictabiltiy of air travel. The train left on time, we had no problem with our luggage and we were served complimentary drinks, snacks and newspapers in Preferente class. We arrived exactly as scheduled at Atocha station in downtown Madrid and took a very short taxi ride to the Ritz hotel where we would be staying for three nights. Check-in at the hotel was a breeze and we were upgraded to a junior suite on the smoke-free fourth floor which overlookeed the Prado museum and the convent of San Jeronimo.


After unpacking, we crossed the street to the Westin Palace hotel where we had dinner at Asia Gallery. The food was disappointing – spring rolls that had pieces of roast pork and cabbage – a very strange combination, the kung pao chicken was made with bland chicken breast and served with soggy peanuts and a cornstarch-thickened sauce, shrimps in black bean sauce had a handful of shrimps and an abundance of red peppers. The only decent dish was the crispy shredded beef and even that had a hint of curry flavour instead of the usual sweet-spicy Szechuan sauce. It was a mistake to eat there but we were hungry, it was nearby and we were craving for some Chinese food. Asia Gallery is definitely going on my restaurant black list. We went to bed early after that.

Friday

The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast at the Goya restaurant with the tables laid with silver, starched linen and crystal. We had croissants, café con leche, poached eggs on brown toast with bacon and fresh orange juice to start the day.


As we were Madrid with our six-year old, our plans were made to accomodate him so we went on a tour of the Santiago Bernabeu football stadium which is the home of Real Madrid. It was a well-organized and comprehensive tour. We saw the bleachers and the special boxes, the trophy room and the football pitch, the bench where the players sat during games and even the changing rooms which had power showers and a jacuzzi. After that, we headed off for some lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. The burgers were good and the children’s menu was a steal at €9.45 including a drink and a scoop of ice cream. We all had a nap after lunch then got ready at around seven. I went downstairs to the intimate wood-panelled Velazquez Bar to have a drink with my good friend, Therese, then the boys joined us (my husband and son) shortly after. We decided to walk to the Gran Via where we had a reservation at Madrid’s oldest Japanese restaurant – Robata. What a change from our dinner the previous evening – the food was authentic – the sushi and sashimi were fresh, the yakitori was very good, the prawns and vegetables tempura were crispy and light and the agedashi tofu was delicious. Robata has been on the same location off Gran Via on Calle Reina since 1992 and is a favorite with both locals and the Japanes community of Madrid. We walked off our yummy dinner and returned to the hotel close to midnight.

Saturday
Bright and early after another civilized and delicious breakfast at the Ritz, Therese picked us up and we went to Las Rozas Village for some retail therapy. Out of the sixty plus boutiques at this outlet mall, the ones I recommend for some fantastic bargains are: Bodum and Le Creuset for the home, Loewe, Carolina Herrera, Pedro del Hierro, Purificacion Garcia and Hoss Intropia for Spanish fashion and Camper and Petit Bateau for children’s clothes and shoes. After a few hours of shopping, we went to La Moraleja and had a quick lunch at Argentine grill restaurant – Clerico. After lunch, the boys went to visit my brother-in-law and his family while I stayed with Therese so we could “chitter-chatter” as my son says.
We were all tired after a long day and so after Therese dropped us off at the Ritz, we decided to spend the night in and have room service, pack our bags and go to bed early.
Sunday
On our last morning in Madrid, we had a quick breakfast then headed to the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum across the street. The best part about staying at the Ritz is that it is located in the golden art triangle of three fantastic museums: the Prado, the national museum; the modern art museum – Reina Sofia and the private collection of the Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza. An exhibit on Modigliani’s works had just opened a few days before that we wanted to see. Unfortunately, tickets were sold out until 2:00 p.m. so we decided to see the permanent collection instead which is amazing as well. 800 works of art all owned by a private individual which is quite impressive. Our visit ended at the museum shop where our son was allowed to choose a treat and promptly decided on a wonderful colouring book of unfinished drawings that the child completes with his own designs.
We then walked to the little street behind the Westin Palace hotel where there are loads of little tapas bars. We tried to get into a few well-known ones but they were jampacked so we ended up in a chain called Cerveceria Gambrinus which is like a Mc’Tapas – the food was typically not very good and the service was spotty but we had a train to catch and not much time to wait around for a spot at one of the better tapas bars. After lunch, we walked back to the hotel, checked out and headed to Atocha station where we had enough time to buy some magazines before boarding the AVE back to Malaga.
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2 thoughts on “The long weekend: Madrid

  1. Hi Annie, There’s no secret. The best way to get an upgrade is to stay at the same hotels several times and get to know the people working there. It also helps that my husband is a hotelier ;)G.T.

  2. annie says:

    what do you do to always get an upgrading in hotels?!!i’m jealous !

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