9 Things To Do in Madrid After the Lockdown (and One Bonus)

I’ve been on lockdown for 12 days now.

This feels like the biggest time-out I’ve ever had in my life.

But, it could be worse. I’m safe. I have pasta and rice for days. I have electricity, running water, gas, the Internet, and access to healthcare.

I’ve been teaching, studying, reading, writing, and practicing my Spanish. Quarantine was built for introverts and nerds, I’m telling you. Our time has finally come. Thrive, fellow nerds! Daydream to your heart’s content, my INFP brothers and sisters!

That being said, I do miss being outside terribly. I may be an introvert, but I’m also an Aries. I need to move. My phone’s StepsApp is probably wondering, “Girl, what happened to you?!” Coronavirus happened, that’s what.

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This quarantine will not last forever. I’m a believer in positive thinking, and the Law of Attraction. And it’s been hard to think positively and use the Law of Attraction during a pandemic, in which every day, the numbers keep going up at a faster rate.

How do you stay positive when something is completely out of your control? How can you attract good things in your life when the entire world has stopped?

I don’t know how, but I’m sure, that things will be fine. They just will. During the darkest, most confusing times in my life, having faith that everything would be fine, or better than what I expected, got me through. And when we have so little control in this situation, faith is what we need.

That being said, I will be so happy to walk outside again and enjoy the beautiful city of Madrid. So, here is a list of all of the things I loved to do in Madrid before the quarantine, and all of the things I will enjoy after the quarantine.

Walking around Retiro Park.

Retiro Park is like the Central Park of Madrid. The most photographed place is probably the pond, but there’s so much more to the park. It’s full of gardens, and picturesque pathways, and sometimes they have art on display. You’ll also see several runners here on weekend mornings. It’s also a good place for picnics when the weather is nice.

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Embracing the chaos in Sol, Gran Via, and Fuencarral.

If Retiro Park is like Central Park, then Sol and Gran Via are like Times Square, except with fewer flashing lights, and more beautiful buildings that look like they came out of a postcard.

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There’s always something going on in Sol, from street performers, to free walking tours, and even events like the sheep walking through, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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Gran Via and Fuencarral are two streets that are full of shops, and beautiful buildings, and people. So many people. When I first moved to Madrid, I lived on Fuencarral street for a month. It was great fun for a month, because we had access to all the best shops, bars, restaurants, discos, and main touristic sites. And, Gran Via was a ten minute walk away. After a month, though, it was a bit too intense. And LOUD. I recommend people visiting Madrid stay in Malasana (the neighborhood with Fuencarral) or Sol, but live somewhere else, such as Chamberi, Chamartin, Salamanca, or Atocha.

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Going to Manolo Bakes on Sundays for coffee and adorable pastries.

Manolo Bakes are well known for their decorated mini croissants, but they also have adorable colorful pastries that you can get for 0.50-1 euro.

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Other coffee shops in Madrid I can recommend are:

1000 Cups

Lots of drinks to choose from, plus they have a lunch menu and smoothies. Some of the baristas speak English. In the Chamberi neighborhood.

Granier

So many pastries and desserts, and they’re cheap. These cafes are everywhere. Not as cute as several other cafes, but they’re faster.

La Bicicleta

This café has a rustic feel, plus there’s a study area in the basement. In Malasana neighborhood, near Fuencarral.

Bendita Locura Coffee & Dreams

The most beautiful café I’ve been to in Madrid. Their menu isn’t as extensive as the other cafes, but it’s so pretty and peaceful. In Salamanca neighborhood.

Federal Cafe

Not a coffee shop and more of a place to get brunch, but I thought I’d mention it here. It’s packed on Sunday mornings, but worth it and delicious. In the Centro.

Going to all the different bars, restaurants, and discos in the city.

Finally, I live in a city with endless vegetarian options.

And just…options. The Lavapies neighborhood has the most ethnic options (and cheap during the Tapapies event, where they sell cheap tapas at several of the restaurants down there). Of course, you could Google just about anything, and find something in the city. My friend and I were even able to find Ethiopian food, which was very fun to eat (and spicy).

Of course, I can’t forget the tapas restaurants, the bars, discos that are open until 6am…I’ve never lived in a city with so many options for eating, drinking, and dancing.

I will give you one recommendation: Casa Baranda in Malasana. This tapas restaurant was one block from our old apartment. They make the best croquetas I’ve had in the city.

Eating tapas and drinking wine.

Croquetas. Patatas bravas. Huevos rotos. Pisto. Champinoes. Vino tinto o blanco. O tinto de verano. Shrimp or calamari if you’re not vegetarian. It’s all so amazing and delicious and ugh words don’t do it justice. So good.

Walking . . . well, everywhere.

Madrid may be huge, but it’s a very walkable city. You will need a metro pass to go from one neighborhood to the other in many cases, but in the neighborhoods, it’s very easy to get to one place from another.

And the views are beautiful. Look at all of these gorgeous buildings.

Seriously, Madrid is such a pretty city. I miss walking the most.

Taking the metro. And not missing my stop on the metro.

I even miss taking the metro. The metro was my best friend when I commuted to classes, or seeing my friends. The metro is the first public transport system that I’ve figured out, which is an accomplishment after ending up on the outskirts of the city way too many times.

(The only problem is, sometimes I get distracted and miss my stop on the metro. I call it an opportunity to explore a new part of the city while underground. Fun times.)

Looking at the mountains on my way to class.

I miss teaching in person. I miss my students, and visiting all the different businesses in Madrid. Yes, I spent a lot of time on public transport, but I loved being able to see several parts of the city. As much fun as teaching online can be, I’ll be so happy when I can teach face-to-face again.

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At one of the places I taught at, I’d see the mountains on my walk to the office. You knew it was a good day when you could see the mountains crystal clear.

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Bonus: Taking day trips outside of Madrid.

There are so many small towns just outside of Madrid that you can visit for a day. Toledo and Segovia are just an hour away. Cuenca is a three hour trip, but if you leave early, it’s doable. If you take the AVE, the high-speed train, you could even go to the coast for a day trip.

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Toledo
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Segovia
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Cuenca

How do you stay positive during this time?

I’ve tried to keep life as normal as I can. I make lists of goals I want to complete each day. I’ve been learning new skills. I’ve been taking courses to leverage my teaching skills. I’ve organized and cleaned my room a lot. I even made a pretend French balcony out of my bedroom window.

And my 30th birthday? I’m almost done writing about my birthday, but in short, despite the fact that I wasn’t able to go to Paris like I’d planned, I had the best birthday than I’d had in years. Pizza, wine, and Skype with friends is sometimes all you need.

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Yes, I dropped my own cake. Happy 30th to me.

What I’ve learned what truly matters while traveling in living abroad

After nearly 8 years of international travel, almost five of which I’ve lived overseas, I’ve learned what really matters. What stays in your mind and your heart years later. It’s the people you meet.

I’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles alone to prove to myself that I could do it. And traveling alone is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, and everyone should do it at least once in their lives.

But at the end of the day, you’re never alone. There will always be someone to help you along the way, someone to chat to, someone to meet and who will take you in like family. People who come from all walks of life, and find themselves being friends, simply because all of you were crazy enough to leave everything behind for something new.

I guess I want to say that this blog post is dedicated to the friends I’ve met here in Spain. Spain has been amazing, and a large part of it has been meeting everyone. We’ve partied together, spend Christmas and New Year’s together, traveled through Spain and Europe together, and it wouldn’t have been the same had it not been for all of you, so thank you. I’ve had the time of my life. Here’s for all the good times we’ve had, and for the good times to come.

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4 thoughts on “9 Things To Do in Madrid After the Lockdown (and One Bonus)

  1. Cheryl Benisatto

    McKenna, you sound like you are coping so well considering the situation. I hope to see you soon. Enjoy you’r journey!
    Love,
    Aunt Cherie

    Like

    1. McKenna

      If anything, this situation has taught me how important having the right attitude is when things are out of your control

      Like

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