Madrid – an amazing surprise. For some odd reason, my friends and I were not over the moon about visiting this incredible city. However, once we arrived, Madrid proved us wrong. I will forever remember this weekend as one of my favorites abroad, and here’s why..

Just a 2.5 hour train from Barcelona, Madrid was so easy to get to. I would describe the city as a more open, classier version of Barcelona. The buildings are so unique and painted in colors of the sunset. Starving after waking up at 6am and traveling all morning, we took the advice of one of Malia’s university friends and walked to what could be my favorite restaurant in the whole world: TAKOS! As I’ve probably mentioned plenty of times before, Mexican food is my absolute favorite. And after spending nearly everything I own while I’ve been abroad, Takos was such a blessing in my life. Each “tako” is only 1euro. Yep, I said 1euro. Everything on this menu is dirt cheap and some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Best of all, this is the first time abroad I’ve actually had something to eat that I can classify as SPICY! Takos had two “squirt bottles” (not sure what else to call these): one with green salsa and one with a spicy, spicy orange salsa. These bottles and the tacos reminded me of my all-time favorite restaurant at home, Otro Café. I almost had tears of happiness (and spiciness!) streaming down my face. We ate at Takos three times before we left Madrid. Can you tell how much we loved it?

After Takos, we walked back to our hotel, which turned out to be extremely nice. My favorite part? We finally had a BATH TUB. Ellie and I shared a room while Kendall and Malia shared the one next door. Each of our rooms had a huge bed and a balcony overlooking the street behind us. Now that I’m recalling our Madrid weekend, I believe this was the first (and potentially only) time we stayed at a hotel since our journey abroad started.

After attempting to go on a tour with our school, Ellie, Malia and I spotted a beautiful white building in the middle of a square that we had to look into. It turns out it was the ME Madrid – the same hotel I have always stayed at in Cabo San Lucas, and the same hotel my parents got married at in Cabo. More than excited, we rushed back to our hotel to grab our things and took the ME elevator up to their rooftop bar. This spontaneous decision turned out to be one of my favorite memories of all time. The sunset was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen as it overlooked the magical land of Madrid. The three of us split a bottle of white wine, snacked on our complimentary candies and spicy nut mix (halleluiah), and laughed in each other’s company as we enjoyed the view. When in Madrid, I would say going up to this bar is a must. Definitely my favorite. From that sunset forward, we had a fabulous night out in Madrid – one that Ellie and Malia will forever talk about as it was life-changing (if you know you know). We also ate at a market called Mercado San Ildefonso – a building made up of a bunch of different restaurant stands that you can choose from. If you’re from Arizona and have ever been to downtown Phoenix, this place was just like Desoto Market. We ordered some of the best patatas bravas I’ve ever had and some chicken tacos that were just as spicy as Takos’. Success!

The next morning, Malia and I woke up frantic as we were supposed to be heading off to the Prado Museum with our program. We arrived at the museum and decided to do our own thing. I saw one of my favorite and one of Spain’s most important paintings, Las Meninas by Velasquez. After getting yelled at by an angry museum-worker for attempting to take a photo, we left and began our own artistic adventure throughout Spain. Malia and I skipped along the streets, walked into some beautiful t-shirt stores, visited Takos again, and came across the Royal Palace of Madrid. Though the palace was beautiful, the church next door was even more incredible. We went inside and it was one of the most interesting cathedrals I’ve ever seen. It was colorful, intricate and massive.

Rushing back to our hotel before sunset, Malia and I had another rooftop bar in mind we wanted to visit. Circulo de Bellas Artes is a bar that was recommended to us by another university friend, and apparently the views are 20x better than that of the ME rooftop. How could it be?! We loved the ME so much! We hurried back, grabbed Ellie (sleepyhead), and tried our best to get to the bar before the sun went down. Once we arrived, there was the biggest line I’ve ever seen wrapped around the building to get up to the bar. What the hell!! We were so excited, and after waiting 45+ minutes, it was nearly pitch black outside. A little disappointed, we still took the elevator up and enjoyed a glass of wine in the restaurant up top where it was warmer. Oh, well. I guess it was a sign I will just have to come back to Madrid after all!

Afterwards, we met up with Kendall and went to a sub-par Italian place for some pasta and called it a night. The next day, we woke up and visited our favorite coffee corner that I forgot to mention earlier (oops). It was a little window in a pink building with marble counters. I ordered an iced soy latté, and everyone thought my order was weird first. Not a usual soy-lover myself, I was skeptical. But, it turned out to be way too good. I proved them wrong, and everyone ordered my same drink on Sunday. I’m always right!

We walked around Madrid once more and marveled at its beauty. The four of us visited Madrid’s main park (huge) and watched some ducks swim for a while before realizing we should probably be heading back for our train.

Though I was able to try many restaurants and visit many places on my Madrid bucket list, I wish I could have made it to the Mercado de San Miguel market and this restaurant called Ten Con Ten. Apparently this market was everyone’s favorite part about their weekend, and this restaurant was one of the best in Spain. Again, another reason to go back! If you are studying in Barcelona, visiting Madrid is so easy and so much fun. I would 100% go again if I had more time this semester.

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