One of my main new year resolutions was to visit places that I have never visited before, or that I visited for a very short time. Most of the places that I had in mind were in Europe (then easy to reach for a weekend break) and more specifically in Spain. Even if it is a few hours away by plane I can say that I barely know this country and that I want to know it better.
That’s why the first trip of the year was in its capital, Madrid, that I visited only for a few hours many years ago while traveling to Cuba. I was totally impressed by this beautiful, dynamic, happy and elegant city. I probably had low expectations and I was amazed by the life and energy that you can breathe in Madrid, especially when you get out of the usual touristic tours and views.
I arrived early on a Friday afternoon and I immediately headed to Malasaña area where, based on my online research, I could find the best vintage shops in town. Well, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of great vintage shops in the space of a couple of streets; most of them were next door to the other and I completely immerged myself in a vintage tour of the area until I realized it was already time for dinner: Retro City, La Mona Checa, Williamsburg, El Rincón de Tía Jo, Biba, Magpie, Flamingo Vintage Kilo, Aramayo Vintage, Le Freak Olé just to name a few of my favorite ones. They have quite different styles from each other but they are all worth a visit because I found lovely stuff at great prices in each of them. Being also sales time in February I can say I got some (ok, many!) vintage bargains there: from dresses to coats and shirts, the first vintage afternoon in Madrid was pretty good and the area is really nice.
After my dose of vintage shopping I was ready to seriously tour the city, starting from the beautiful Palacio Real (the Royal Palace), personally one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen, Plaza Mayor, la Gran Vía (the biggest shopping street in Madrid, where I also found out that Mango is less expensive there than in Italy…you know what was the consequence of this discovery, right?), San Miguel market (where I ate the most delicious “croquetas de bacalao”, codfish croquettes), Plaza de Colón and the amazing Madrid museums: El Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and my favorite one, the Reina Sofia (where I also found a beautiful exhibit dedicated to Fernando Pessoa).
On Sunday morning I woke up early to visit the famous Rastro Market, a flea market where you can find a lot of souvenirs and gadgets but with a very nice antiques and vintage area that is worth the visit. From there I walked all along the lovely Calle Embajadores to get to the popular area of Lavapiés, with its little coffee shops, little markets and colored walls where you can breathe a different and more real Madrid, like in Malasaña.
I have to say that I ate like a pig in Madrid…tapas, croquettes, tortillas, hot chocolate and churros (perfect against the cold weather!) but my favorite place for tapas and for a tasty potato tortilla with caramelized onions was Juana la Loca in the La Latina area (very nice area too!). Make sure you get one of these and their amazing tapas are to die for!
Although the weather was pretty cold (that’s why I am wearing my adored vintage shearling coat from I Love Vintage in Milan and my Madame Ilary lurex turbans) the sky was always clear and the sun was at least warming our hearts! Like this city that I didn’t want to leave because I enjoyed everything there: people, food, atmosphere, shops, museums and all these little areas outside the tourists’ path, that are probably the best areas of Madrid. Oh…and the vintage! Definitely one of the most interesting vintage cities in Europe (it was hard to put all my vintage bargains in my small suitcase but I won!).