Happy Monday everyone.
Today I'm back with a super exciting post: my first EVER travel diary.
I've spoken for so long about delving into the world of travel blogging and now I finally am.
After travelling to America and Africa in 2016, I realised that I have 1000000000% caught the travel bug and I want to bring you guys along with me wherever I go!
So what better way to start off this new aspect of my blog than writing a travel diary on my recent trip to the beautiful city of Madrid in Spain!
So basically this post will be a travel guide on all things Madrid.
What I did.. Where I went.. The do's and don't's..
Plan Plan Plan, and then Plan some more...
Flights: In November we decided to go on a European city break, and Madrid was one of the cities that was in the €10 seat sale on Ryanair, so we booked the flights for the week before Semester 2 of college.
We went for about 3 and a half days, which was such a lovely treat to finish off the Christmas break.
We just searched "Hotel on Gran Via" which is the huge shopping street. Basically it's the Oxford St of Madrid.
We stayed at the Petit Palace Cliper c/Chinchilla 6. This hotel was in the ideal location. It was right off Gran Via and sooo central - everything was within walking distance.
For 2 people staying three nights, and in a fantastic location in the city centre, the hotel was so reasonably priced!! I would definitely recommend staying there! It's basic, clean, central, cheap & cheerful.. What else would you need?
Research: One thing I've learned from travelling is that you really need to plan ahead when going on a city break! It's so important, especially if it's only for a few days because you'll want to squeeze in as much sights and shops as possible!
Make a bucket list!!!
Ask Friends for recommendations.
Google the best places to visit.
Google the hidden treasures of that place.
Search hashtags of that place.
Watch travel vlogs/read travel blogs on the area.
I followed lots of Madrid accounts on Instagram before going, to get inspiration on places to eat/visit.
So I obviously couldn't go on a trip and not feature some outfits!
They're relatively comfy/casual as we did hours of walking each day!
For our first day of exploring, I decided to wear a gorgeous charcoal shirt I had recently purchased in Zara and comfy ripped jeans from River Island.
I styled them with my Western style boots & belt - a trend I am looooving right now.
You can find the boots: Here
I just brought one bag that would fit everything and go with everything. I love this grey Satchel I bought in Primark in Newry back in August.
I love this gold chain from Urban Secrets - I got so many compliments on it!
The typical "I'm a blogger, so I take outfit photos on steps" picture!!
Day 2 was another long day of sight seeing so I went for a striped shirt that had a frill collar, my SoSu high waist jeans and my trusty Adidas Superstars for comfort!
This was my look for our last night at the Flamenco Dancing show.
The sparkle choker & top are from Penneys.
The coated jeans are from Vila and I absolutely live in them!
Heels are from Dunnes!
My outfit for our last day (shopping day) was super casual and cosy!
I popped on this Penneys shearling jacket for popping around the shops.
Paired it with my RI jeans again, a green velvet bodysuit and my white leather converse!
Food & Drink
Breakfast with a view:
After getting inspiration from Koen Tady's Instagram, I just HAD to have breakfast at the "Gourmet Experience". It's a fabulous food floor on the 9th floor of a department store called El Corte Ingles.
I enjoyed a fluffy croissant and freshly squeezed orange juice with the sun beating down on me as I looked out over this magical city! Such a blissful breakfast spot!
We even came back again the next day just to capture the view again and fill up on the amazing food!
It truly is a Gourmet Experience.. Woooowza those views!
I would highly recommend going here for a cup of coffee or a drink.
It's free of charge to come up and enjoy the view and take some pics too!
Babes who Brunch
Habanera was one of the places I was most excited to go to!
It was featured in an article that I had stumbled across when researching Madrid. I just couldn't wait to step from the grey streets into this sensational exotic paradise..
A picture tells a thousand words, so just.....
Yes this is a restaurant.. I kid you not!
Is this not the most instagrammable place ever?? Seriously though, the aesthetics!!!
And if you thought all of that was fab, wait 'til you see the food!
When on holidays, you've gotta go for the cocktail right? Look how gorgeous it is!
All those summery vibes..
Are you weak yet?
Look at how stunningly presented this brunch is..
I ordered the fruit salad and American pancakes! I've never tasted pancakes like them before and oh my days, the fruit was so juicy and fresh! It was definitely one of the most incredible food experiences I've ever had! And what's more, both were only about €6. Such reasonable prices for such a luxurious location!
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better than the fantastic food displays and spectacular setting, just wait until you see the bathroom..
That is correct you do see palm trees in the bathroom, as well as a fabulous marble sink!
But the BEST part is..
SWINGS IN A FRICKIN' BATHROOM! I looooove this place!
Talk about bathroom goals! If you visit Madrid and don't go to Habanera you are seriously missing out! V impressed!
Sure we'll go to the Irish pub for 'one'
Are you even Irish if you don't sniff out an Irish pub when abroad?
The James Joyce pub was recommended to us as a lovely place to go to for a late lunch.
We ate some light bites and enjoyed drinks outside watching all the traffic go by which was soooo relaxing after so much walking. Fab spot & great food!
Dine Al Fresco in Plaza Mayor
A must-visit is the breath-taking Plaza Mayor dotted with Al Fresco themed restaurants all around.
It was fab to sit here enjoying our meal in the sun while being entertained by street artists.
This is how every lazy Saturday should be spent!
Taste a traditional Spanish Buffet at Topolino
On our first night in Madrid we just happened to stumble upon this quaint little corner restaurant called Topolino. I would highly recommend eating here if you want to get a flavour of many traditional Spanish dishes! The exquisite array of food is mouth-watering. Thank God it was an all-you-can-eat buffet because I went back for 3rds and 4ths haha!!
It was only €11 pp. Well worth eating here if you want to get value for money!
(Oh and btw the paella in Spain beats the Aldi one anyday.. obvs!!!)
Enjoy drinks at Círculo De Bellas Artes as the sun sets
One of the most magical moments of the trip for me was watching the sun set over the city from the rooftop bar on Círculo De Bellas Artes.
It was so chill, chart music was playing, cocktails were being drank..
Experience Madrid's most famous Churros in San Gine's
If you visit Madrid at all, you have to indulge in the chocolatey haven that is San Gines!
It is the cutest little chocolateria which do the most famous churros & hot chocolate in Madrid. They're in business since 1894 - so crazy!!
The interior is divine. Chocolate everywhere, marble & gold decor, photos of famous people who stepped foot through the door framed on the walls.
Also they are open 24 hours I think, because I read that young people queue up to get churros after being in the nightclubs 'til the early hours.
Look at that piece of perfection.
Hardly enjoyed them anyway...
Places to be & Sights to see!
Ahh and now onto the amazing places you must visit when you're in Madrid!!
Between the architecture, the culture and the views, you'll be wanting to book the next plane to Spain
El Parque del Retiro
As soon as stepped through the gates of Retiro Park, we were instantly entranced in a Winter Wonderland.
It's so unlike the parks back home in Ireland. Everything is crisp white and it feels like you're walking around the Queens garden. To say it is a luxurious park would have to be an understatement!!
One of my favourite parts about the park is that you can hire out paddle boats and take in the scenes around the lake. A few people recommended this to me and I had always wanted to go on a paddle boat. It was so cheap. Only €6 for the 2 of us in the boat for 45 mins around the lake!!
And the boats can fit about 4-5 people and each boat is only €6 so v v cheap!
Taking inspo from the O'Donovan brothers and "Pulling Like A Dog"
The boats are super safe and family friendly. There was lots of kids in boats too!
Taking in all the scenes around the park!
Next we strolled on to the Palacio de Cristal which is another fantastic feature in Retiro Park.
I could stay here forever, daydreaming in this magnificent building. I've never seen anything like the Crystal Palace.
It's a pretty big park. We didn't even get to see all of it but, wow!! It was truly beautiful!
Watch the sun set from Círculo De Bellas Artes
So much websites and so many people told me that watching the sun set over the city from the top of Circulo de Bellas Artes was an absolute MUST! And boy were they right! Can you believe it was only €4 for this extraordinary rooftop experience?
It was one of those rare, breath-taking, pinch-me moments watching the sky go from a dusky yellow, smoothing into pastels and exploding with vibrant purples, pinks and oranges and finally darkness slowly fell onto the rooftops.
WOW! I would highly recommend spending a few hours here to watch that magical sunset and the city lights twinkling up at you, but bring warm jacket it gets super cold up there when night falls!!
Check out Primark on Gran Via
If you're a shopaholic or a Penneys fanatic you are gonna want to visit the HUUUUGGEE Primark store on Gran Via. It has 5 floors, music blaring and always packed!
It was as if the mother ship has called me home!!
This is how busy it was at 9pm!!
I've recommended some more fab shops on my Madrid Haul Blog Post if you want to check it out and see what I bought. Honestly the shopping over there is to-die-for.
Get a picture with El Oso y El Madrono
Located in Madrid's most famous and most central square, La Puerta del Sol, sits one of Madrid's most important statues. They say you should get a picture with El Oso y El Madrono (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). The Oso and Madrono is the official symbol of the city.
So I got the above picture and bought a keyring (which flips into a bottle opener) with El Oso on it!
Temple De Debod
Want to experience a bit of ancient Egypt in Madrid? Hell yeah, you do!
This mesmerising, mystical monument was built in one of Spain's most beautiful parks, West Park.
It was donated to Spain in 1968.
Admission is free so you should totally come down to check it out, take some pictures and go for a stroll around the beautiful West Park.
See a Flamenco Dancing show
You cannot go to Spain without experiencing Flamenco dancing. Honestly, the passion, the rhythm.
It was a sensational experience!
Fly over the city in a Cable Car
For only €5, one of the best things you can do in Madrid is take in the best of views of the city by cable car.
And most importantly, go Explore!
Yes, tick off the things on your bucket list, but go walk, go cycle, go see.
Explore the unknown streets and take pictures of random buildings that you don't know the name of..
Enjoy the city's architecture for all it is!
The City Hall
Aaaaand there it is, my best Madrid recommendations! I hope you enjoyed this post and might even consider visiting this beautiful city after reading this!
I would love to get your feedback, so leave comments or message me etc.
So much love,