The next few days we spent in Madrid were with my parents and some family friends, the Grays. Matt played on the men’s volleyball team for the Allianz olympics with my dad, so he and his wife, Erin, joined our fam for our first leg in Spain. From Zurich, we all took a train to Basel and then flew from there to Madrid. Because we were traveling with jetsetter Dave Sandberg, we got to stay in hotels that are way beyond our budget and way nicer than anything we’ve stayed in the rest of our trip.
There is no other word to describe our first hotel other than incredible. It was a Westin and its location was absolutely perfect. About a block from the Prado and the Parque del Retiro.
|This fuente de Neptuno was right outside our window.|
|Ben and I slept on the rollaway bed and the couch, respectively. And respectfully.|
|Another incredible buffet breakfast. This was my oxymoronic selection one morning—green juice and churros con chocolate + other fried, sugary delectables.|
|Taken from my phone. But you still get the idea of how crazy luxurious this place was.|
|Extra red and white sauce, please.|
|Dad trying to read a Spanish book in the Palacio de Cristal.|
|Dad’s new pal.|
|One of the best tortilla de patata I’ve ever had.|
|MMMM. Torrija con crema.|
|You don’t want to know how close we were to buying beautiful Spanish clothing for our future children. Bass 10, we’re comin’ for you once we get some niños and niñas.|
|Fro-yo with shoe-horn spoons.|
|Kind of hated everything about this.|
|Little sausage cones.|
|El Palacio Real.|
|The cathedral directly across from the palace.|
For dinner, my dad made reservations at an upscale restaurant called Paradis Madrid. One of his former coworkers is now a chef and runs in the same circles as very famous, top-notch chefs, so when my dad asked him about the best place to eat in Madrid, he recommended this place without hesitation. I’ve never been much into fine dining—just delicious and wholesome food in whatever form—but after this experience and another we had later in Barcelona, I’m kind of hooked. I really enjoyed the whole experience of the meal and how it felt almost like a dance. Everything was so smooth and formal, and our waiter handled everything with a poise that was so calming.
|Some strange but delicious appetizer that kind of tasted like BBQ chips.|
|Prepping my paella.|
|Lemon-toffee amazingness. And the most beautiful, delicious chocolate cake behind it.|
After a few nights at the Westin Palace, we switched to a Sheraton closer to the airport. The hotel was trying to charge my dad €55 a night for a rollaway bed, so Ben and I decided to go buy a blow-up air mattress for €20 from Al Campo (kind of like Spain’s Walmart) and put it on the floor. We hid it in the window when we left for the day so the cleaning people wouldn’t find it (see below). There was also a fun spa in the hotel that we took advantage of—it was free except for the swim cap you had to buy for a few euros.
|Hiding the evidence.|
|Matt and Erin getting their backs worked.|
I posted about this on social media a few weeks ago, but I’ll share it again here. When Ben was on his mission here, he baptized an old Spaniard named Pablo, and when Ben left to go home, Pablo was going through cancer for the second time. Before we left for our trip out here, Ben contacted one of his former mission companions who lives in Spain and found out that Pablo and his wife, Cecilia, now serve as temple missionaries in the Madrid temple. So when we got to Madrid, Ben called the temple to see when Pablo and Cecilia would be working and we got to surprise them there. It was such a beautiful experience; Ben said that Pablo is the healthiest and happiest he’s ever seen him. Cecilia was just crying and crying when she saw us, and I cry whenever anyone else does, so I was a mess. They were so, so excited to see Ben and to meet me and my parents.
|Cecilia was mad that we didn’t contact them before showing up at the temple, but she eventually forgave us.|
Pablo and Cecilia invited us over for lunch the next day, so we stopped by for a quick visit with them again before we headed to the airport for our flight to Morocco.
Up next: our day trips to Segovia, Cuenca, and Alcalá de Henares.