play + eat {madrid}

game snackstime for some futbol stadio vicente calderon club atletico futbol taverna in la latina family style dinner in la latina pre-siesta snack pinchos are the latest craze irresistible late night snack

After my first visit to Madrid last month, I'm excited to report that I reeaaalllyyy enjoyed the city this time around. It's amazing what cooler temperatures and good health can do - hallelujah!

We hit the town more, my taste buds were in better shape, and the streets were alive despite the Madrileño August exodus for a month of vacation. Best of all, we were there to celebrate the wedding of Joe's college friend, Ivan. It was a little mini-reunion for the guys so of course an Atletico Madrid futbol game was in order.

I don't follow the sport on my own but I do love to watch it. I'm Colombian so I grew up watching games with my dad or listening to them in the background via live radio broadcasts. Daddy - you would have loved being at the game! Constant chanting, bright lights, and too many "I can't believe he missed the net!" moments. It was a really fun local thing to do but it was strange to be sitting in a section called "Vomitorios" - like as in vomit pits. No one really knew the reason for the name and I didn't really have the stomach to push the subject.

The rest of our time in Madrid was spent mainly eating and drinking. It's easy to do both of those things very well when in the company of "Old" Madrid's unofficial mayor, Juanma (he's the man looking up at the camera in the group photo above). He was Ivan's waterpolo coach as a kid and they have remained the best of friends. Walking around the older neighborhoods of Madrid with Juanma is like being with a celebrity. He knows everyone and everyone knows (and loves) him too. We seriously couldn't walk 20 feet without someone shouting his name and then stopping to say hi for a minute or two. My favorite part about hanging out with Juanma - aside from his huge heart - is that he knows of all the hidden (to us) gems in the La Latina and Lavapies neighborhoods. You probably won't find these spots in tourist guides because in other words, they are legit. My favorite was Casa Mateos in La Latina where we had a family style dinner after the game. It is itty-bitty but packs a ton of genuine character. And, they prepared the best fried morcilla I have ever had in my life (sorry, Colombian version!).

So yes....I really enjoyed Madrid this time :)

madrid de noche

I loved the evenings in Madrid. Temperatures dropped just enough to feel refreshing while staying warm for an active night out. We spent most of our time in the La Latina neighborhood where the bars and restaurants are plenty and the streets are ripe with old and charming beauty.

I particularly loved being taken to the Fiesta de San Juan by La Latina's unofficial mayor, Juanma, a close friend of our friend Ivan. The night was all about getting rid of old and evil spirits by burning them to ashes and apparently, jumping over their flames. Hundreds of people gathered to drink, play music, and watch those brave (or crazy) enough tackle the evil spirits as they went up in smoke.

We kept our feet on the ground but enjoyed walking amongst the crowds just soaking in the unexpected celebration. The night was a bit magical but really, they all were. I really loved Madrid at night.

More photos here.