The road up to Plaza Mayor is packed with restaurants, but every day we've noticed that one particular restaurant gets a lot of attention, with what seems like every walking tour stopping off there. But I managed to get a rare photo of it without all those tour parties hanging around.
So what's so special about Sobrino de Botin (pictured above)? Well, it's only the world's oldest restaurant and has been in operation since 1725.
On our way into the city centre we stop off at the Mercado de San Miguel. *Gratuitous food and cakes photography klaxon!*
Above: some tapas.
Above: cake, anyone?
Above: Meringues. Much to my regret, I didn't have one :(
Above: disappointing news as Laura learns she can't have all of those crisps for 2 €.
After hanging out in the Mercado for a while, we then head back to the Plaza Mayor. I would imagine that these flamenco costumes would probably cost an arm and a leg, so I went for the more affordable option elsewhere; a red and black flamenco-style cooking apron. Maybe it will inspire me to dance flamenco whilst rustling up some of my signature dishes, ha ha.
Above: a little lunchtime tapa. Accompanied by a sangria!
After lunch at one of the restaurants on the Plaza, we return to Puerta del Sol, the city's buzzing main square and transport hub.
I was quite fascinated by this statue of a bear eating fruits from a tree...
10 streets lead off the Puerta del Sol. We followed one of them and ended up on ...
...which is a pedestrianised shopping area with all the well-known Spanish and international stores.
After a little climb up a side street we eventually find ourselves back at Calle Mayor and Plaza Mayor. Unfortunately we are going home tomorrow so have to get back to our hotel to do some packing as we have an early rise to head to the airport.
But there is one last night out before we go, and yet another restaurant on Calle Cava de San Miguel for our evening meal. There are so many restaurants to choose from on this street which runs from Calle del Segovia to Calle Mayor.
But we can't leave Madrid without a final visit to the Mercado de San Miguel, which on a Friday night is as buzzing as you'd expect - but also very civilised. You couldn't really imagine the socialising-in-a-food-market thing working over here, but it's these little continental contrasts which I love about holidaying in Europe.
So, would we recommend Madrid for a city break? Most definitely. I'd recommend that you stay in or around the old town, in the vicinity of the Plaza Mayor to get the best out of a surprisingly walkable city centre. Fans of tapas will be well catered for, and even almost-vegetarians like myself won't struggle too much to find something on a menu. This was something which worried me before the holiday, pushing up my anxiety levels, but I needn't have worried. Lots of food - and some seriously big portions too! I was also worried about personal safety, but on our experience Madrid felt a much safer destination than, say, Barcelona. Indeed, we came to the conclusion that we might even love Madrid more than Barcelona.
There are enough interesting experiences to keep you happy on a short break to Madrid, whether you want to explore world-renowned museums and culture, or just soak up the atmosphere of this buzzing European capital. We had a lovely time in Madrid. So if you ever get get the opportunity to go to Madrid...then take it!