Spain was one of those trips where I feasted my way around Madrid. I spent a week in Madrid enjoying the museums, Segovia, Toledo and most importantly the food!
I don’t speak Spanish and found that I had more difficulty than usual with the language barrier. Perhaps it’s that Madrid seemed to be a much busier city with folks taking less time to understand what you’re communicating. In Italy by comparison, I always found the people go out of their way to help you figure out what you’re trying to say (although I discussed this with a man I was flying next to one day and he just said “that’s because you’re a woman.”)
Despite this struggle with the language, I had a great time and discovered this was an area very easily visited as a solo traveler.
In the afternoons, I toured some fabulous museums or hopped on the train to Segovia and Toledo. The evenings were spend leisurely wandering around and enjoying tapas armed with my Spanish language guidebook. By making my evenings tapas nights, it eliminated the issue of dining solo.
The first couple of tapas bars I visited were early in the evening before it got crowded which helped me figure out what I was doing and how to order. I quickly learned to order a drink first and wait to see what little nibbles they placed in front of me.
The evenings were full of olives, lovely ham (including Iberico), manchego cheeses, fish cakes, potato tortes and other delectable tidbits.
I spent one afternoon going out to Segovia for the roast suckling pig (cochinillo asado). While many people tour there for the amazing architecture, cathedral and Roman aqueduct, for me it was the pig. I selected one of the restaurants recommended in my Rick Steves’ guidebook and prepared myself to feast. I also wasn’t the only one!
Soon after being seated, I watched the first roast pig served to a neighboring table. Folks crane to watch, cameras flashing. It’s a little unnerving to be served something that’s unfortunately rather cute. I opted for a bottle of wine to help get prepared.
While I can be a bit adventurous when it comes to dining, I’m certainly no Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods so I left the ears, snout and other unappealing pieces for some stray dog to enjoy. The meat however was delicious.
Back in Madrid I continued seeking out tapas bars for dinner. One of my favorites was Casa Labra. Here you’ll find the most delicious fish balls, or Bolas de Bacalao Frito. For just a few Euro you can get a few fish balls and a little glass of wine. Absolutely delicious. I returned to Casa Labra several times!
All in all, Madrid was a delightful feast just waiting to be enjoyed.