European Spring 2024: Madrid, pt 1

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Food & Drink, International Travel, Travel

We arrived in Madrid after a turbulent overnight flight in business class. I think Leandra was glad to be off that plane!

Even though we had a metro card we could recharge, we decided to take an Uber since it would get us there in 30 minutes. We went through the process of finding the Uber pickup spot in the garage last fall so it was a familiar procedure and we only had to wait a couple of minutes for our ride. Traffic was light, and when we arrived at the URSO Hotel our room was ready – hooray!

First impressions of the hotel: very nice lobby, lots of seating, small water feature with stairs to restaurant, and a pervasive smell of lilies. The front desk staff were also very friendly.

We rested up in the room for a little bit then walked toward Plaza Mayor for shops and street art.

I found us a nearby spot that looked good for a light lunch, Taberna Malaspina. Several wines were available by the glass, so I opted for a verdejo and Leandra had a rioja. These drinks came with a generous Lomillo tapa but we couldn’t resist an order of an iberico toast (with a nice tomato spread) and some spicy patatas bravas.

In the late afternoon, after a much deserved nap, we attempted to get into the Prado on a free night but when we arrived we could barely see the back of the line from the front of the building! So Leandra popped into the nearby church San Jerónimo el Real, and then we walked through Retiro Park instead.

We spotted a few more murals on our way back to the hotel.


Our hotel booking came with a 90€ food and drink credit so we spent half of it on drinks at the hotel bar for an apertivo. I started with the rose champagne, then switched to a still XF Sierra Cantabria rosado. Leandra ordered the pork-washed Old Fashioned but after some delay the waiter came back and said they had run out and did she want a regular one? Disappointed, she opted for a perfectly fine (pork-free) cocktail, then switched to a glass of Ribero del Duero. Drinks were served with a nut mix, then potato chips. We really enjoyed the vibe of the lobby, including the piano player who had some creative covers of more recent songs.

Thankfully we had a reservation for dinner because Tapa Tapa was very busy for a Tuesday night! I ordered a Rueda verdejo, while Leandra got a Tempranillo. We split the tortilla (buttery) and padron peppers (no hot ones, alas), and then Leandra was all on her own for the steak tartare roll with chipotle sauce. Service was mixed, but the food was fairly good and inexpensive, less than 30€ total.

Per usual after an international flight, we slept really well that night! The next morning we made our way downstairs for the included hotel breakfast. All the tables were up an open staircase on a glass enclosed 2nd floor atrium. There was a diverse array of buffet items with typical Euro offerings, plus we could order from menu as well.

After checking out of the URSO we made our way north via the subway to the Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor station to catch our train to Valencia. We have always taken trains from Atocha so this was a new experience for us. It was a bit of a hike from the metro to the main waiting area for the bullet trains, but thankfully escalators were in operation. The security check was fast and we had a 20 minute wait before our track was displayed. Ouigo checked boarding passes before we were allowed to board and then we were on our way to Valencia for the next 33 days!


Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Long Island, NY (July)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)
Grand Rapids, MI (Nov)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)