Madrid – The Result of a Four Day Weekend While Living In The UK


When we moved to the UK, we both wanted to make the most of how close everything within the EU is. Being from the states, we used to only dream of taking a four-day weekend to explore another country. Here in Scotland, that dream has turned into a reality! We knew that once the daylight hours started shrinking here in Scotland, we would be hopping on any flight every chance we got. After all, when the temp lingers at right around freezing, it’s dark by four o’clock, and you live in a van, what other options does one have?


Jay’s schedule this module is full of three and four day weekends. As you can guess, we are taking full advantage of all of those long weekends.  We both really wanted to go to Spain, and our Spanish was getting quite rusty after not using it for a year, so a quick weekend is Spain was a no brainer. We booked our flights back in September, however, somehow never actually planned the trip. Well, let’s get real… When we went to Thailand back in July, we booked our tickets only 10 days before leaving. So booking flights two months in advance was a big step to “planning” for us. We should have known we wouldn’t plan any further than that.


The day before leaving for Spain, we still had no clue what we were going to do or where we were going to stay. We talked about renting a car upon landing in Madrid and driving north up into the wine country. After discussing the pluses and minuses of that idea, we passed, and decided to just stay in Madrid, enjoy the city, and do one or two-day trips by train to smaller towns.




Before we get into day one, we need to talk about the Madrid airport. This thing is huge!! And in our opinion, poorly designed. We walked for 20 minutes from our gate to border control, without a single snack stall or toilet in sight! After customs, there are six toilets for all the hundreds of passengers to use… Talk about a nightmare!! Then we walked for, not kidding you, probably 30 more minutes through the airport to the metro! Pretty sick that the metro is connected to the airport, but 30 more minutes of walking… Come on!! Maybe the airport was just prepping us for how many miles we would be walking in Madrid?!? Okay, enough of that.. let’s get into the good stuff!


{Traveler’s Tip… If you’re flying into Madrid. Don’t wait till you land to use the toilet. Suck it up and use the one on the plane, or you’ll be holding it for a long time!}



Thank the Lord we have had experience with metros/subways. Our trip to London really prepped us for understanding metro lines. Rumor has it… Madrid has one of the biggest underground subway systems in Europe! We’ll vouch for that rumor being true!


{Traveler’s Tip… If you’re heading to Madrid, be sure to check in at the metro information booth at the station in the airport. The workers are super friendly and will help you chose what kind of ticket is best for you during your stay. We will also be posting about the different options, so check back soon!}


After an hour commute on the metro from the airport to the neighborhood we were staying in, we were kindly greeted by our AirBnB host. We chose this AirBnB because it was out of the city, had amazing reviews, and the host didn’t speak English so we would be forced to use our Spanish! Our stay was great.. well, in the beginning at least (day three will tell you how it turned into a nightmare)!


By about 2:00 we were ready to get out and walk around the city. A couple people had told us to visit the La Latina neighborhood, so we figured we would make that our first day, and then explore the main part of Madrid when we had a full day to do so.



We walked along the busy riverfront, up a crazy hill, and found our way into La Latina. We found La Latina at the perfect time. Everyone was out for drinks and tapas, so we found a place that was busy, and joined in with the locals. A.K.A looking at what other people ordered, ordering that same food, and getting some local beer and wine!



Remember how we said we had no plans for Madrid. At this point, we still had no idea what there was to do/see. We just wanted to experience the culture, and La Latina was the perfect neighborhood for this. Finishing up our drinks, we decided to just stroll around the streets. We quickly found out that although Madrid is huge, it has so much charm and character. We got lost in the streets of La Latina and stumbled upon the well-known Mercado de San Miguel.


{Traveler’s Tip… La Latina is a fantastic neighborhood of Madrid. The relaxed atmosphere, absurd amount of tapa restaurants, and the beautiful streets make it a great place to start your time in Madrid!}



Walking through the market we had an epiphany.  We looked at each other and laughed as we realized that our time in Spain was basically going to be a four-day food tour! We scoped out the food that looked the best, grabbed some of the crowd favorites and a couple glasses of Sangria, and decided we were going to really like Madrid.


{Traveler’s Tip… Mercado de San Miguel is full of tourist in the evenings. Try and get there early if you don’t want to be hip to hip with other travelers. If you’re traveling alone, it’s a great place to meet people! Bring cash!! Some places accept card, but cash is better in a place like this!}



Walking home after the market, we stumbled across a beautiful building. It wasn’t until we got back to the flat that we realized this building was the Catedral de Santa Maria. A very popular and frequently visited building that again was recommended by a couple people for us to see. This whole no-game-plan turned out to be beneficial for our first day in Madrid!





After wandering the streets with no plans the day before, we thought we’d look through some of the information friends had given us about Madrid. We learned that there was a market every Sunday, and pinned a couple other places to see for the day. It being Sunday, we left the flat and made our way straight to the market.


We had no intentions of purchasing anything. We like to go to local markets for the experience, and typically leave when they get overcrowded. However, the scarves at this market quickly caught our eye! We both walked away with new, warm, fuzzy scarves!! We grabbed some empanadas (our favorite food from Bolivia) reminisced a bit on our other travels, and then were heading to the local park for a wine, ham, and cheese picnic!



Here’s the deal… We never actually made it to that dang park. We attempted to go there four different times throughout the day, however, each time, something else distracted us!! First, we ran into a chocolateria. We had to stop and get churros and hot chocolate!! Then we came across another busy tapas and drinks areas, so we had to stop for that. After our drinks, we really thought we would make it to the park, but got distracted again!!


This time by SUSHI!! Haha… Yeah, we know… sushi in Spain?! But, we seriously couldn’t pass it up! In Scotland, we have yet to find good sushi and this place looked legit. We pretended to read the menu on the window, when in reality we were checking out people’s dishes, and decided we had to go in! That was a fantastic decision! The sushi was so good!!



With full bellies, we again attempted to head to the park. At this point, we were going to skip the picnic idea and just walk through the park but got stopped again. On our way to the park, we walked right by a huge gorgeous building. We wanted to see if we could go to the top! With a tourist charge to get to the top, we decided to just walk through the building, and then get on our merry little way… to that dang park. Can you guess what happened next?!



If you guessed, we came across something else we had to stop at you’re right! By this time, it was dark out and there was a beautiful archway in the middle of a roundabout. Hello, great night photography shot! We grabbed some hot chocolate and treats at a café and spent the next hour doing some night photography. Guess the park will have to wait for another time!!



Our night ended with a typical Spanish ham sandwich – We really shouldn’t have waited until the end of day two for these bad boys!! And even though we were extremely full from all the food we indulged in that day, what we came across next was an absolute must have! We were walking through Plaza de Callao and heading back to the flat when a fancy sign from home caught our eye!


This plaza had a flippin’ Taco Bell!!! And yes, without any hesitation we went and got some!! T-Bell?! Come on,we didn’t think we would have that again for years!  Heading back to the flat we had huge smiles on our faces. We didn’t realize we would literally eat our way through Madrid!


{Traveler’s Tip… Don’t let a full belly determine if you’re going to eat something or not… You’ve got to live in the moment, eating the food of the region you’re in, and even sometimes getting something that reminds of you home!}





After wandering the streets of a big city for two days, we were ready to head out into a smaller town. Thanks to our friend Jeff who lived in Spain for over a year, we had the recommendation of visiting El Toledo just outside Madrid.


{Traveler’s Tip… Spend a full day in Toledo. We’ll be doing a separate post soon with more info on a day trip there! You don’t want to miss this cute town!}


At first, Toledo wasn’t at all what we expected. We didn’t expect it to be as touristy as it was, however, we were able to escape from that all quite easily. We spent our day wandering through the tiny streets of Toledo, got lost a couple times, and finally settled down for some traditional Toledo food.



After indulging in way too much food, we made our way to the viewpoint that overlooks Toledo for sunset. Watching the sun go down and the city lights slowly flick on was magical. Such a perfect end to our last full day in Spain!



Remember at the beginning of the post when we talked about our nightmare AirBnB stay. Well, this was it… It’s not the worst AirBnB story we’ve heard and we’ll certainly be using AirBnB again, but here ya have it.


After leaving Toledo, we made our way back to the flat for a somewhat early night. We were planning on getting up early the next morning to get some studying/work in before catching our flight. Upon getting back to the flat, the apartment was empty. We got ready for bed, and as soon as we were turning off the lights our host comes in… with his one-night stand!!! For the next three hours, we were kept awake from cat calls, purring, and other noises we won’t talk about here! We were finally able to fall asleep when the girl left after an argument that ended their night… at three in the morning!


Needless to say… We slept in longer than planned the next day and didn’t get our study/work time in. Instead, we walk along the river, grabbed some coffee and lunch, and made our way to the airport. Our time in Spain was one for the books. The people, the culture, the food, the wine and Sangria… Everything was amazing!! Spain is definitely a place we will explore more!



An update for us. First off, it’s the end of November — How did that happen so quickly? Jason has class until mid-December, and then we’ll have a month and a half off. We’re getting away every chance we get with his long weekends and will have lots more personal stories coming soon. This weekend we’re heading to Edinburgh to enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season, and next weekend we’re taking advantage of another four-day weekend and heading to Poland!! At this point, we aren’t really sure what our plans are for the December/January break, but we’re thinking backpacking through Europe J We’ll keep you all posted!



…Prayer Requests…

*Pray for continued healing of Jason’s stomach. And thank you so much for those who have been praying!

*Praise the Lord for our safe travels thus far, and pray for continued safe travels.

*Pray for insight and wisdom for what’s to come for us… Lots of big decisions are happening within the next couple months.

*Praise the Lord for how much we’re enjoying Isobel. The van has been such a blessing and we couldn’t imagine living any other way at this point.


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