It's a true city and capital full of history and culture, and it's clean. Madrid is so alive, so trendy and fashionable while not being arrogant or stiff. There are newer barrios and neighborhoods that are walkable and full of life and food, too.
El Corte Ingles is a standard stop for some department store shopping, grocery shopping, and eating. It is the biggest department store group in Europe, and it's the only remaining department store in Spain. The Gran Via location has a great Gourmet Experience on the top floor with fantastic views of the city. You can take it all in while enjoying a selection of tapas and cuisines from around the world.
Madrid is also a city to sample the Spanish classic: churros con chocolate. Books and Internet research lead me to Chocolateria Valor and Chocolateria San Gines. Valor is a big name chocolate brand in Spain. Despite the name and reviews, I actually preferred San Gines. It has a hype for attracting decades of celebrities and big names. The churros were fresh and crispy and the chocolate had that right amount of sweetness and darkness. The experience of eating churros con chocolate can be done at any time of the day. Locals, though, are known to indulge in this sweet, fried goodness in the wee hours of the morning after a long night out. In fact, Chocolateria San Gines' hours are 9:30am to 7:00am. Madrileños know how to party and to live, and to eat.
|Walking around Madrid|
|The crowds around Puerta del Sol|
|The barrios streets of Chueca|
|Outdoor relaxing in the Plaza|
|Museo del Jamon - an aging food landmark.|
|Jamon hanging around the bar|
|Endless crowds of Madrid|
|Gourmet Experience in El Corte Ingles|
|The view from the Gourmet Experience|
|Tapas and wine in the afternoon|
|Beautifully constructed ice cream cones|
|Valor's churros con chocolate|
|Chocolateria San Gines|
|The ordering and preparation counter|
|San Gines' churros con chocolate|