recipes for traveling the world

Mellowing in Madrid

Mellowing in Madrid

When we arrived at our hotel outside of Madrid, we were exhausted. We were now at over a month of traveling and we realized we needed to slow down the pace a little. It was nice to be in a hotel with free breakfast and WiFi.

Neither of us had many “must-dos” in Madrid, so it felt like we could just explore the city and take it easy a little, rather than feeling rushed to check a lot of boxes without truly enjoying all of it. Every time I start to get stressed out about not seeing everything (I’m a list-maker), Kody simply reminds me that we can always come back, if we feel like we missed out. He tells me that this may be our longest trip, but it won’t be our last. And that’s such a freeing feeling.

There’s no way to hit everything on every list for every location. We have too much we want to see, too many recommendations we want to follow, and too few hours in each day. Our travel style shifted in Madrid and has mostly stayed that way.

Unless we have a train to catch or an early checkout time, we don’t set an alarm to start our day. We just get up when we feel rested. We’re no longer rushing out the door really early in the day and staying out until bedtime. Kody and I leave and come back when we’re ready – sometimes separately. Madrid marked the beginning of us trying to respect each other’s travel energy a little more (a lesson that didn’t fully sink in until after we went to Paris). If one of us wants to go home or stay out, then that person does. We do almost everything together, but we’re trying not to feel pressure not to do things because the other person isn’t as interested.

The weather on our first day in Madrid was really wonderful, perfect for wandering around. The city is so thoughtfully designed. It’s a combination of all my favorite things about big cities: unique architecture, wide sidewalks, tree-lined pedestrian paths, and large parks. I’m always a little amazed to be in a metropolitan city that is clean, but Madrid was really clean!

Kody and I left our car in a parking garage and walked in the general direction of the Museo Nacional del Prado, taking in the city along the way.

There was a small craft market set up on a sidewalk and a protest in a park. Madrid felt like a living, breathing city. The local population wasn’t completely drowned out by tourists, so we were able to feel the tempo of the place a little more. People in Spain know how to live. They spend a lot of time with their families and friends; they don’t rush mealtimes; and they work hard, but they know how to relax. We have consistently come back to the idea that Spain is somewhere we could see ourselves living one day. The lifestyle is infectious.

Our first meal was basically Spain in a dish: huevos rotos con patatas – fried potatoes with “broken” eggs topped with jamón ibérico and a glass of cava on the side, of course. It was the type of dish that’s almost too rich and washing it down with bubbles makes you feel like you’re really living.

A little bit buzzed, we were ready to see El Bosch at the Prado Museum. I love El Bosch’s artwork. It’s whimsical, theatric, and thought-provoking. I even got a picture of my favorite piece – a triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights – before I was loudly admonished by a museum attendant. (I hadn’t seen the NO PHOTOS signs.)

After exploring the museum, we decided to stop in somewhere for a beer and a snack. We went to a place called the Museo del Jamón which was absolutely full of cured pork and other meats. The rest of the day was slow wandering and stopping for snacks or drinks when we fancied. I tried vermouth straight for the first time and I wasn’t sure I liked it until I was about halfway through and, at that point, it didn’t matter much anyway. We made it an early (albeit, boozy) day and headed back to the hotel to unwind in free air conditioning.

For our second and last full day in Madrid, we had two simple goals: I wanted to eat at Honest Greens and Kody wanted to get a haircut. When your goals are that straightforward and fun, you can’t go wrong! And, honestly, we nailed it. We found Honest Greens and had a wonderful meal. It’s such good, healthy food. Perfect for a pick-me-up after heavy travel food. As an amazing and unexpected surprise, we even saw the chef himself. (He’s the one with the hat on in the picture – you might recognize him from The Final Table on Netflix.)

Kody got his hairs did, too. Usually he gets it done at a barber shop, no frills, but this place was a hipster barber shop and it had all the frills. Kody haS a blast getting his hair washed (boys don’t get their hair shampooed for them at barber shops normally!) and having a very skillful barber cut and fade his hair. The styling after was a little high for his liking, but it was a fun experience. Getting your hair done in a country where you don’t speak the language can be nerve wracking, which is why I intend to come back to Norman with a tangled, unkempt mess on my head.

We wanted to take Kody’s new ‘do out on the town! Passing a Hard Rock Cafe reminded us of a fellow passenger on our cruise who was completely obsessed with them. We decided to see what the fuss was about and after two overpriced drinks… we still didn’t know.

Our time in Madrid was not wild or overly exciting. We were beginning to see and feel the true length of our trip and I’m happy we slowed down. I’m really having the time of my life.

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