Okay, so here’s the backstory …
In October 2013 I was lucky enough to get cast in a commercial that was shooting in Madrid, Spain. (Oh, yea … I’m a professional actor, doing commercials, TV, film, etc.). Like it is with most castings, you find out you got the job just days before you are filming, so this sudden trip to Madrid was not something that had crossed my mind.
My first thought … where exactly is Madrid?
Madrid, as it turns out, is smack dab in the middle of Spain. I can’t think of another big city I’ve ever visited that didn’t have some kind of waterfront. I knew nothing of what to expect. I spent a few days feverishly scouring the internet to find out all I could before I was off to the city for a week.
This is me when I have to get up at a very early hour to get a flight to Chicago, from where I will be getting a connecting flight to Madrid … 14 hours of travel, here I come!
Hmm, the airplane food isn’t terrible … and I’m on the Spanish national airline … this bodes well for what I’ll find there
So, after 14 hours of travel (including a Home Alone style run through Chicago O’Hare airport to not miss my flight from Chicago to Madrid), I finally arrive
After a car picks me up from the airport and drops me at the hotel, it’s a quick shower and then they need me in wardrobe … the driver just waits for me to get ready
It’s about 10am, (though my body thinks it’s much later) and we’re driving through a city that looks pretty damn cool … maybe I’ll even get to see it?
After a couple of hours getting fitted for outfits I would wear on the day, I’m told that I won’t be needed again until Thursday morning. I ask what they need me to do.
“Have you seen The Prado Museum? You should go see that!” With that advice, I’m given my per diem and sent on my way. It’s Monday, it’s about noon, and I am free to explore this city, one which I never really had given much thought to, for 3 days. My first decision, get lunch!
In most restaurants in Madrid, there is a Menu del Dia served during the day. It’s a fixed price meal of usually a soup, main course and dessert with a drink (note, as you can see above, my included ‘drink’ is a bottle of red wine and a bottle of sparkling water to mix it with … yes, a bottle of each!). At about 9 euros for the entire meal, this is definitely the best way to eat while in Spain!
Walking around the city I couldn’t get over how much it reminded me of Paris … with a touch of Rome. I often describe it as what would have happened if Paris and Rome had a child.
All this walking is making me want to stop at cafe (cafeteria in Spanish) and get a lovely pastry and coffee!
Yea, that’s more like it!
Okay, maybe I just get this out of the way with a mosaic off all my tasty coffee and snacks!
Do I know what all these things are called? Nope! I can tell you there’s a tuna pie, a dish that is basically cheese baked on bread and folded over … just good stuff
In the heart of the city is the stunning Retiro Park
Located nearby are the 3 big art galleries … the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia
No pictures allowed inside … this is the amazing fountain across the street … of course, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to sneak pictures inside, right?
All that art was a bit overwhelming … time for a break
Beer and a lovely calamare bocadillo on a terrace … this will do!
In Madrid, everyone goes out for dinner all the time … after 10pm. The city really comes alive at night
Now, I wasn’t going to go to Madrid and not partake in some amazing paella. First, I had to find the right restaurant …
Yea, any place with a front window like this … I’m gonna try it
Served table side, with chicken, chorizo, saffron … yes, this was amazing. Don’t worry, next post I’m going to show you how to do a paella at home!
Although I was given breakfast daily at the hotel
I still had to have a treat I had been told many times about in the few days I was hearing about Madrid
Churros y chocolate … yep, a cup of melted chocolate and a plate of hot churros to dip in the chocolate
I got to see much in my unexpected week in Madrid, but obviously there is so much more. One day I plan to go back, this time take Claire … an amazing city that I had never really ever given much thought to, but now I think about it often.