November 4, 2019
Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

November 4, 2019
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
The region of Madrid may be one of the smallest in Spain but there's still a lot to see. There are plenty of charming villages and historical sites surrounding the capital of Spain. Some of the best day trips in the area of Madrid include Aranjuez, Chinchon, Patones de Arriba or Manzanares el Real among others. Today I'm taking you around the latter.

Manzanares el Real is one of the most popular Madrid day trips. Manzanares is a village in the north of Madrid that has something for everyone. Do you like cultural trips? Visit its impressive castle. Are you a nature-lover? Check out the National Park of La Pedriza with its beautiful walking trails.

Hungry for more? Check out these other Madrid posts

Without further ado, let's take a look at the best things to do in Manzanares el Real.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain

Best Day Trips from Madrid: Manzanares el Real

MANZANARES EL REAL: THE CASTLE

Castillo de los Mendoza is one of the top 3 most visited sites in the region of Madrid together with the Palace of Aranjuez and Monastery of El Escorial (we are not counting Madrid city here). It's easy to see why. The imposing castle is one of the best conserved in the area and is surrounded be the even more imposing mountains of Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.

There are 3 ways to visit this 15th century castle: on your own, as part of the guided tour or on a 45-minute dramatized tour with actors representing Don Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza and his daughter Brianda that guide you through the rooms.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain

MANZANARES EL REAL: HIKING TRAILS

La Pedriza is one of Madrid's most popular hiking trails. The rocks have been sculpted over centuries by water and wind which gives the mountains unique and interesting shapes. La Pedriza is part of the Guadarrama National Park where you can also see amazing fauna like vultures and the Spanish ibex.

On the other side, the town is surrounded by the Santillana Lake, around which you can take a very pleasant walk.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain pedriza sierra guadarrama mountain

MANZANARES EL REAL: FOOD

Being near the mountains, the most typical food is meat. I highly recommend trying their traditional Castilian style roasts. We made reservations at La Parra because of its raking and opinions on TripAdvisor. The food was good but overpriced in my opinion. The prices of the dishes are similar to those you can find in a luxury restaurant in Madrid city. Normally, villages have lower priced menus.

We haven't tried any other restaurants but after being in Manzanares a friend suggested trying La Charca Verde and we just loved what Casa Goyo looked like. All three restaurants mentioned are walking distance from the castle.
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain restaurant
madrid manzanares real castle castillo natural park nature hiking trail day trip historical site spain food

MANZANARES EL REAL: GETTING THERE

Manzanares is a short drive from Madrid, just around 30 minutes. You can also take bus 724 from Plaza Castilla which takes about 1 hour to get there.

Read more about best day trips from Madrid without leaving the area:

Chinchon
Patones de Arriba
Aranjuez

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You can find my Kate Spade bag here (hurry up, it's on sale!).

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October 28, 2019
A Healthy Guide to Madrid: Plans & Food

A Healthy Guide to Madrid: Plans & Food

October 28, 2019
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
There are plenty of healthy things to do in Madrid. From international races to good-for-you food, the list of options for health-addicts are endless. It hasn't always been like this, though. The terms flexitarian, paleo or vegan were unknown in Spain a few years ago. Even though the famous Mediterranean diet that characterises our lifestyle is good for you in general, things like our delicious fried calamari and most of our tasty tapas are on the greasier side. However, the healthy lifestyle movement is catching on so those of us who want to eat what's good for our bodies have all the resources available.

On today's post you are going to find a healthy guide to Madrid. We are going to see plans and food for those of you who want to feed their bodies and souls with the very best things only.
carrera ciencia madrid csic 2019

A HEALTHY GUIDE TO MADRID: PLANS

I am all about healthy eating but I must confess that I have a hard time keeping up with a workout routine. On the contrary, my husband practices a lot of sport and once a year runs a race. His favorite is Carrera de la Ciencia (Science Race). It takes place once a year and it raises money for scientific reasearch.

Other important races in Madrid:

  • Women's race (March 8)
  • Race against cancer (March)
  • Madrid's half marathon (April)
  • San Silvestre Vallecana (December)

Find the complete list here

If you aren't a runner, there are plenty of gyms and fitness studios like:

Finally, the cheapest workouts you can get are renting a bike or just walking around one of Madrid's biggest green areas like Madrid Rio, Retiro Park or Casa de Campo. It's my absolute favorite plan when the weather is good.

Do you need to relax after all the exercise you've done? Check out some of Madrid's great spas:

graffiti madrid basketball court urban art sport workout

graffiti madrid basketball court urban art sport workout
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo

A HEALTHY GUIDE TO MADRID: FOOD

The eating options in Madrid are endless and the number of healthy restaurants is skyrocketing. We recently discovered Cafe Run Run Run which opened last may and is a haven for runners. It's a restaurant and running club all in one place. Their menu includes foodie faovrites such as avocado toast or eggs benedict and many vegan options. There are many flexitarian and a few paleo friendly dishes as well. The decor is fun and unique which makes it also one of those Instagram worthy spots that you can't miss in Madrid.

These are our favorite healthy restaurants in Madrid:

  • Mama Campo at Plaza Olavide offers healthy delicious food made with ingredients bought from local farmers. Sustainability is their main goal, which can be seen in the wooden furniture and organic products.
  • Superchulo, a 100% vegetarian restaurant in the trendy district of Malasaña.
  • Elektra serves organic food and has many vegan and vegetarian options. Be sure to check out their Sunday brunch!
  • La Cupula de los Peñotes offers healthy food at an environmentally friendly restaurant napkins are biodegradable and plates and glasses are made with 100% recycled glass.
  • Raw Coco can be found in Madrid (2 locations) Gijon and Valencia. This cafe, bar and restaurant offers organic products and is famous for its cold press juices and smoothies. We love the Caribbean style decor as well!
Healthy restaurants on my list to try next:

cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
cafe run madrid running club helathy food restaurant foodie sustainable vegan vegetarian flexitarian paleo
Are you a health-addict? What do you do to keep a sustainable and healhy lifestyle?
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October 14, 2019
How is Hispanic Day Celebrated in Spain?

How is Hispanic Day Celebrated in Spain?

October 14, 2019
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
Spain's National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España) is October 12, a.k.a. Hispanic Day (Día de la Hispanidad), it commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. As it is Spain's big day, we get the day off and families celebrate attending one of the many events throughout the country or spending some quality time with their loved ones.

This has been my first time attending the celebrations in Madrid and today I want to share with you photos I took in the impressive National Day celebration of the country's capital and the story behind this festivity, from its origins to how different cities in Spain celebrate.

Read more about Family Traditions in Spain

military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: LOOKING BACK IN HISTORY

Christopher Columbus set off from Palos de la Frontera, Cadiz, on August 1492. Two months later he arrived in an island that is now part of the Bahamas. However, this wasn't the original idea. Columbus, who was sponsored by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, was actually looking for a western route to India but instead stumbled upon the Americas by mistake. Hispanic Day symbolizes the union between Spain and Spanish-speaking Latin America.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: PUBLIC LIFE

Being a public holiday, most shops and businesses are closed on Spain's National Day so it's a pretty quiet day. Some bakers and food stores may be open and public transport services are reduced like on a Sunday.

If October 12 falls on a Sunday, regional or local authorities can move the public holiday to a different date.

Unlike other Spanish holidays, there's no special food associated with this festivity although family gatherings and copious meals full of yummy Spanish traditional recipes happen on Hispanic Day.

Read How to Host Your Very Own Tapas Party

military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY: HOW SPANIARDS CELEBRATE

The main event taking place on October 12 is the military parade in Madrid involving all the branches of the military: planes, tanks and other bodies. It goes along Paseo de la Castellana and is attended by the King and Queen, their daughters and leading politicians of the time.

There are two impressive moments during the parade. One is when the Spanish Air Force acrobatics team, Patrulla Águila, lets out red and yellow smoke that looks like the Spanish flag. The second one is when a parachutist jumps from a plane with the flag and offers it to the Royal Family upon landing.

Another favorite among those who attend the parade is the Spanish Legion, a unit of the Spanish Army whose mascot is a goat.

Once the parade is over, families enjoy the day off together eating out or doing some other leisure activities. Hispanic Day is also a day when many museums and palaces in Madrid open their doors to the public. There are also various performances at the Cervantes Institute of Madrid as well as special exhibits.

And speaking of Cervantes...Don Quixote's creator's beautiful hometown Alcala de Henares celebrates this day with lots of activities, including one of the biggest Medieval fairs in Spain. Alcala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's an absolute must if you are in Madrid.

Apart from the huge parade in the capital, Madrid, there are plenty of other celebrations that take place throughout the rest of Spain. For instance, a big one takes place in Zaragoza as it is El Día del Pilar and they celebrate Our Lady of Pilar patron saint.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day

HISPANIC DAY ALL AROUND THE WORLD

This day is also celebrated around the world: in the United States it is known as Columbus Day; Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay and Belize; Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Mexico, Chile and Colombia; and Discovery Day in the Bahamas.
military parade madrid spain national hispanic columbus day
I hope you learnt something new and interesting today. Tell me, how do you celebrate National Day in your country?
October 7, 2019
Madrid for Foodies: Trendy Restaurants Part One

Madrid for Foodies: Trendy Restaurants Part One

October 7, 2019
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
Many visitors come to Spain because of our food culture every year. Spanish cuisine is well-known and respected all over the world and Madrid is one of its gastronomical capitals. Even though Spanish flavors attract swarms of tourists on its own, Madrid restaurants make a big effort to lure foodies in with beautifully decorated eateries.

On this blog post I'm going to show you around some of the trendiest restaurants in Madrid. There are so many that we'll need several installments to cover them all. Let's start with part one.

TRENDY RESTAURANTS IN MADRID: GRUPO GALLETA

If you can only try one restaurant in Madrid, make it one of Grupo Galleta. With their delicious food and affordable prices they are good value. You may wonder why they called it "galleta" which is Spanish for cookie. The owner's family is linked to the famous Fontaneda Spanish cookie company. Also his love for dogs (perros) plays a very important part in the brand. In fact, dogs are welcome in all of their restaurants. 

All of their restaurants are located in strategic locations, in the trendiest neighborhoods and close to landmarks which make them a great option if you are visiting Madrid. Finally, the restaurants have a rustic flare and display collections of objects which makes the decor so cool and unique.maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
MARIA Y LA GALLETA
A few weeks ago we tried one of the newest additions to the group: Maria y La Galleta. This trendy restaurant is located in Tribunal, one of the busiest areas of Madrid which is close to Gran Via.

The food was as good as expected. One of the group's specialties is battered eggplant which they serve in all of the restaurants with slight differences in the recipe. We love it so much that we always order it for starters. Our favorite main dishes were the poke bowl and the burger. Finally, their iconic dessert, Tarta de Mama (mom's cake) made with chocolate and -guess what- Fontaneda's best-known cookie named "Maria" is one of the best sweet treats we've tried in Madrid so far.

Reservations
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
poke bowl trendy cool unique best hottest restaurant madrid
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants hamburger
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
maria galleta tarta mama dessert madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants
maria galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants

MORE TRENDY RESTAURANTS BY GRUPO GALLETA

EL PERRO Y LA GALLETA
The most famous restaurant of the group can be found in two locations now: the original one in Barrio Salamanca -right next to Retiro Park- and a new one in Chamberi (which used to be El Canadiense by the same group).

I'll always remember El Perro y la Galleta because it was the first restaurant to ever truly take my breath away. I hadn't been living in Madrid for too long at that time and coming from a small city, I didn't know such lovely restaurants existed.

Reservations:
Barrio Salamanca
Chamberi
perro galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants

CASA GALLETA
Also located in Barrio Salamanca near Retiro, this is one of the latest additions to the group. It's a traditional restaurant with rustic country decor. Don't be fooled by the classic decor, the food is modern and fun!

Reservations
casa galleta madrid spain foodie trendy cool unique fancy chic best hottest restaurants

BAR GALLETA
The trendy neighborhood of Malasaña houses another restaurant by Grupo Galleta: Bar Galleta. We still haven't tried this one but I'm sure it won't disappoint.

Fun fact, their mascot is Cookie Monster, could it be any more adorable? :)

Reservations

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September 30, 2019
5 Unusual Things to Do in Madrid: Plant Lovers Edition

5 Unusual Things to Do in Madrid: Plant Lovers Edition

September 30, 2019
dessert city madrid cactus garden
The last few weeks of summer have been packed with really exciting plans. The main reason we love Madrid so much is the wide variety of things to do. Possibilities in big cities are endless, from the most common things you can do everywhere to unusual and unique plans and events. On this post you can find a guide to the later which is dedicated to all plant lovers out there. These are unique things to do in Madrid I'm sure you've never heard before.

Need more ideas for great plans this fall? Check out my guide to the Best Things to do in Madrid this Fall or What to do in Madrid in November.

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN MADRID: VISIT THE BIGGEST CACTUS GARDEN IN EUROPE

We recently discovered Desert City, the biggest cactus garden in Europe. It consists of an impressive 5000m2 garden and a nursery -closed at the moment- which are a must for any cactus and plant enthusiast. Plus, you can join a free tour in Spanish where you can learn all about these peculiar plants.

Desert City
Opening times: Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 13:30.
Guided tour: 10:30
Free Admission
Google Maps
dessert city madrid cactus garden
dessert city madrid cactus garden
dessert city madrid cactus garden

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN MADRID: HAVE LUNCH IN A GREENHOUSE

Continuing with plans for all-things-green lovers, there's a beautifully decorated restaurant called El Invernadero de los Peñotes, which serves delicious food. Invernadero is Spanish for "greenhouse" and it's called like this because the restaurant is located in a former greenhouse. The restaurant is huge, with three areas each decorated in a different way. Portions are small but the cuisine is delicate and they use good quality ingredients.

Prior or after your meal, you can shop next door at one of the biggest garden shops in Madrid, Los Peñotes.

El Invernadero de los Peñotes
Google Maps
invernadero peñotes restaurant garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid
invernadero peñotes restaurant garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid
invernadero peñotes restaurant garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid
invernadero peñotes restaurant garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN MADRID: HAVE LUNCH IN A BUBBLE

Los Peñotes has two restaruants: El Invernadero and La Cúpula -Spanish for "the dome"- which is just as beautiful as the other one but smaller and cozier. We had had such a wonderful experience at El Invernadero that we went back to try La Cúpula just a few weeks later.

This place is amazing no matter the weather. The see-through glass dome looks like a bubble and it shelters you on a rainy day. The place is surrounded by nature: there are trees, a pond, plants and flowers. So if it's a lovely day, you can eat al fresco outside, around the dome.

The restaurant was flawlessly decorated by the decorator team at the garden shop so if you like anything from the restaurant you can actually buy it!

And if that wasn't enough to like, this place is environmentally friendly: napkins are biodegradable and plates and glasses are made with 100% recycled glass.

As far as the food is concerned, the menu is similar to that of El Invernadero. All the dishes are healthy and cooked with first-class ingredients.

La Cupula de los Peñotes
Google Maps
cupula peñotes restaurant food bar garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid
cupula peñotes restaurant food bar garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid
cupula peñotes restaurant food bar garden shop alcobendas moraleja madrid

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN MADRID: HAVE DINNER AMONG OLIVE TREES

You may think city centers are all houses houses houses. You'd have never imagined there's an olive tree garden in the center of Madrid, right? Well, it gets even more unique. Every summer there are classical music concerts and afterwards dinner is served among centenarian olive trees.

What's the name of this place? Fundacion Olivar de Castillejo. They are open from mid-July to mid-September. Don't bother making reservations online because those who attend the concert have priority even if you have booked a table online. Concerts start at 8pm so be there a bit early and book a table then. Concert tickets are 10€. Dinner starts after the concert, around 10pm.

As dreamy as it sounds, we didn't have the best dinning experience. First, because it's not the comfiest setting and second, because we found the food scarce and expensive. But it surely is something unusual to do in Madrid!

Fundacion Olivar de Castillejo
Google Maps
olivar castillejo fundacion concert restaurant olive tree madrid
olivar castillejo fundacion concert restaurant olive tree madrid food
olivar castillejo fundacion concert restaurant olive tree madrid chill-out

UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN MADRID: HAVE RETIRO'S MONUMENTS TO YOURSELF

I hope you are a morning person because this requires some effort on your side: waking up VERY early. If you are anything like me, you are probably tired of having to share city landmarks with swarms of tourist trying to get the best photo.

One day this summer, I realized the best thing to do was to go to Retiro Park when they open it at 6am to have the park to myself. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. It was so calm and quiet, there were just a few joggers and only ducks could be heard. Totally worth the early wake up call!

As far as photography is concerned, it's not only the best time to avoid crowds but also the light is amazing for photos.
retiro park pond lake monument madrid
retiro park pond lake monument madrid
retiro park pond lake monument madrid
retiro park pond lake monument palace crystal glass madrid

Are you spending Halloween or Thanksgiving in Madrid? Check out these guides:
Halloween in Madrid
Places to Enjoy a Traditional Thanksgiving Meal in Madrid

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