Madrid with a Toddler!

      11 Comments on Madrid with a Toddler!
“Habla Inglés?” (Do you speak English?)? I asked the taxi driver who drove us from the Madrid airport to our apartment hotel. He didn’t. Not a word. This was our experience everywhere we went in Spain. Very few people we met spoke English. We got by because yours truly can speak Spanish! I’m not fluent but thanks to a beginners course in Spanish, I can make decent conversation. If you’re planning a trip to Spain (and I think you should), it will do you good if you learn a few Spanish words and take a dictionary along. You’ll thank me.

Let me put in a disclaimer before I jump into everything that’s great about Madrid. This post is Madrid with a toddler. You know what that means, don’t you? There will be no museums, history or nightlife in this post. It’s like I said in my Teaser post, low expectations. Having said that, I’m sure you’ll get a good vibe of the city like we did.

While traveling with a toddler, it’s always a good idea to stay close to the city center and close to public transport, so that you don’t compromise on nap times. We found a wonderful apartment hotel on Gran Via which is said to be ‘The Street that never sleeps’. Literally meaning ‘Grand Road’, it is home to many restaurants, shopping centers and theatres. We lived right opposite a comedy theater!

So our exuberant taxi driver, while making jokes about how “grande” people from Estados Unidos (United States of America) are, brought us into the city center. The first thing that struck me was the fusion of the old and the new. It’s a bustling city like any other, with posh little cafes…

And suddenly, in the middle of all that flurry, you come across magnificence like this..

Look closely and you’ll see the fine architectural details…

It was love at first sight. Living on Gran Via turned out to be a great decision because some of the most popular attractions were just a short walk. After a good lunch at Rodilla (good vegetarian options here), we walked out to Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace). Don’t forget to bring along your toddler’s stroller. You’ll be walking a lot. My little one was super excited to see a real castle, where a real king and queen lived.

We passed some really pretty calles (streets)

And Jamonerias (Ham shops). The Spanish take their meat seriously, so seriously in fact that there is a whole museum dedicated to ham. No really! Look at this – Museo del jamon

On the way to the Palace, we came across the Jardines de Sabatini (Sabatini gardens) which are part of the Royal Palace. The gardens are open to the public and M had a great time running around there.

The Palacio Real didn’t disappoint! Although King Felipe VI and the Royal Family don’t live here, M was content imagining that Elsa and Anna (Frozen reference) lived in this palace.

Opposite the Palace is the Plaza de Oriente, which is lined with statues of Gothic kings.

Puerta del Sol was next on the list. Another short walk from the Royal Palace. Puerta del Sol literally means Gate/Door of the Sun. This is the centre of Madrid’s radial roads. Talk about all roads leading to Puerta del Sol, not Rome! It’s also one of the busiest places in the city (think Times Square in New York City), complete with street performers and wonderful cafes! The road to Puerta del Sol is an interesting mix of high end brands, roadside shops and musicians.

Also singing their seductive siren song were the chocolaterias, the churrerias and the tapas bars!

As I was policing my mind to not stray, these dapper guys came clomping along –
And finally to Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol houses the heraldic symbol of Madrid – El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Madroño Tree)
The oohs and aahs of people watching street performers do their gravity-defying feats and the sweet strains of music fill Puerta del Sol. It’s such a lively place to be! I spent most of my time listening to these guys. They were simply sensational! Take a look –

Madrid was my first taste of Spain and it was delicious! How did you like this little virtual tour of Madrid? Let me know! 

11 thoughts on “Madrid with a Toddler!

  1. Kalpanaa M

    I love the photos although I must say it looks cold. I'm very intrigued by the Museum of Ham. Plus, I was hoping to see a photo or two of the toddler, not only of Madrid 🙂
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    1. mixedbag Post author

      It was cold up in Madrid and Toledo but as we drove down south towards Andalucia, it warmed up, thankfully 🙂 I'm a little wary of putting my toddler's pictures up on the Internet. I'm that kind of mom 🙂 Thanks for that nice comment, Kalpanaa!


    I had already added Spain to my must-visit list, but did not consider that I would need to learn a bit of Spanish or carry a dictionary – duly noted now. Thank you.

    Loved this virtual tour, and that tune!

    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thanks, Shantala! We were really surprised that even in the most touristy of locations, very few people spoke English. So yeah, a few sentences in Spanish and good miming skills and you're set 🙂

  3. Kala Ravi

    Hi Hema, have been waiting for your Spain posts! I've been caught up with the AToZChallenge, so tell me any other posts up? This was a lovely and detailed account of Madrid! Do I really have to learn Spanish? The Video was lovely! You've managed great with the kiddo!
    Cheers 🙂

    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thanks, Kala! Yes! learn a few words of Spanish before you go or you'll have to mime a lot haha! The only place we found people speaking English (and Hindi!!) was Barcelona.

  4. Pingback: Doors to Spain • Mixed Bag

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