A weekend to remember in Madrid

Just got back from another great weekend. This time, it was Madrid. I figured since it is the center of almost everything in Spain (airport, main train station…Sephora, etc.), we’re probably going to visit more than often. It is also our backup plan—we had scheduled going to Barcelona, but since it was going to be a shorter weekend and Renfe trains are cheaper if booked with plenty of time in advance, we decided to go to Madrid instead. It is a much shorter distance. The weather didn’t cooperate on Friday (it didn’t stop raining!) among other things, but the next day was better…way better.

Churros con Chocolate

The highlight of my day was probably eating Churros con chocolate (deep-fried dough sticks and chocolate) at Chocolatería (chocolatier) San Ginés. It was so delicious! And to think that we almost missed this gem. I was craving churros. Then we were both in the mood for churros. So we made our way to a chocolatier people recommended somewhere online. But when we got there it appeared that the business was closed or under construction. That’s when I asked a man standing outside a restaurant for a good place to eat churros and without hesitation he responded, “Ah, San Ginés!”  Right around the corner.

Apparently, the place has been around for over a hundred years and it’s one of the best chocolaterías in Madrid. I was so glad we asked.

I’m not sure that dipping greasy dough in thick black chocolate is the best thing in the world for you, but darn it…it is gooood.

We then walked for a couple of hours around Puerta del Sol (my favorite area in Madrid, and also the area where we were staying), ending that morning by taking the Metro to Atocha to meet up with my brother. After that, it was nonstop walking, conversations and tapeo (bar-hopping). It made up for the (rainy) day we had the day before.

Chris and I at the Plaza Mayor, Madrid

We hung out for a bit on Friday and all Saturday night at La Latina, a really fun neighborhood in center Madrid — I would compare it to Philadelphia’s Olde City, just a lot more fun and with a lot more places to go. The night life there is incredible. We also walked around Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor.

Unfortunately, things don’t always exactly as planned. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there was a letdown on our trip: the hotel. I have to bring this up because it was something never seen or heard of before by any of us; simply the worst place we have ever stayed. Besides, this is good information for other travelers to know. (I would have appreciated it if somebody had told all the truths about it.)

The name of the place is Pensión Arcos and it is located right off La

Night view of Gran Vía (a downtown avenue) in ...

Gran Vía

Gran Vía and a few feet away from Puerta del Sol. Amazing location. When I saw the rates and the online reviews (almost five stars out of five and it is also recommended on Rick Steves’ book, the guy who writes about travels), I said to my boyfriend we have to book this!

Upon arriving and seeing the location and the building, I got pretty excited because it is a beautiful old-fashioned building. However! The inside of our room… Oh, that bathroom… Oh. My. God. Looking at it literally made me sick to my stomach. Everything—and I mean everything—looked filthy and creepy. I knew that it was going to be a Pensión (hostel-like place) after all, but I’ve stayed at hostels before and they were always okay. In fact, when we went to Córdoba last week we stayed at a Pensión/Apartment, too, and it was very clean and looked just like a nice hotel.

But the place in Madrid…not only was it disgusting, but the owners (an old couple) were the creepiest pair I’ve ever seen. Whenever we opened our door to go out, they would stick their heads out of whatever room they were in to greet us. It was like a scary movie. I don’t think their interest was so much focused on greeting us, but making sure no one was just “checking out” without paying since they don’t have any other way of finding out (the place is cash only).  I guess that’s OK. We also had to ring the bell when we came back from hanging out, whatever time that was, and when that happened the guy would greet us at the door…wearing his pajamas and barely open eyes. Creepy!

The only reason we didn’t just leave on the same day we arrived was because they are really nice people after all, with only some six rooms to rent, and I don’t think it would’ve been civil of us to cancel on them on the spot—I just made sure I didn’t touch those towels, walked barefoot, or remained in that room for half of the time I was awake.

I’m not sure why it has such good reviews on Tripadvisor, but it certainly does not deserve a 5. Maybe people are basing their reviews on the location? I don’t know. But it’s not cool. I think, if people will be reviewing stuff online, they should tell it like it is. Or, could it be possible that the reviews are right and we just got the worst room that there was? Who knows!

Anyhow, we just kept laughing at the ridiculousness of it all—this is an experience we will never forget. And we definitely did not let that little mishap ruin our trip. Can’t wait till our next trip!