48 Hours in Madrid

48 Hours in Madrid

My visit to Spain last month began with 48 hours in Madrid. I was most surprised by how French the city looks and feels, but after brushing up on my Spanish history, I learned that Philip V was in fact, French by birth and wanted to feel at home when he ascended to the throne! Madrid served as an excellent introduction to Spain before we made our way farther south in Andulcia.

48 Hours in Madrid


In the barrios of  Cortes or Salamanca. We stayed in an Airbnb in Cortes within walking distance of many of the major sights. We appreciated the historic charm of the neighborhood and found it to be quiet in the evenings. Salamanca is an upscale residential neighborhood in close proximity to Madrid’s best shopping. I would avoid being anywhere near Gran Via, which was loud, dirty, and overrun with tourists.

48 Hours in Madrid

See & Do

The Prado Museum’s collection rivals that of the Louvre with European masterpieces from the 12th through 20th centuries. Not to be missed: Valezquez’s Las Meninas and Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights (unfortunately off-view when we visited!).

On the opposite end of spectrum is the Reina Sofia which houses Spain’s modern and contemporary masterpieces. Not to be missed: Picasso’s Guernica (of which you cannot take pictures).

Take a stroll through the immense Retiro Park to people watch the inhabitants of Madrid and to admire the beautiful grounds.

Like Buckingham Palace, Madrid’s Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. It’s easy to spend a couple hours here meandering through the lavishly decorated rooms.

48 Hours in Madrid


Catch an early dinner of tapas at Bar Tomate.

Compare Madrid’s famous churros at Chocolat Madrid and Chocolatería San Gines.

Grab a jamon y queso bocadillo for a take-away breakfast from La Mallorquina.

Have a leisurely lunch of tapas at Restaurante TriCiclo (one of the best meals of the trip!).

48 Hours in Madrid

Good to Know

Check online for free museum entry times. We visited the Reina Sofia for free as there’s no entry charge from 1:30pm to 7pm on Sundays.

While Europeans are notorious for late dinners, Spaniards take it to another level! Most restaurants open at 9pm for their first dinner seating, which can be challenging when you’re jet lagged.

48 Hours in Madrid

48 Hours in Madrid

48 Hours in Madrid

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Comparing Oahu, Kauai, and Maui

5 Days in Maui

Last year we had the chance to finally visit Hawaii. We kicked off our visit in Oahu since my brother lives there, but we wanted to visit a second island on our trip. I remember being overwhelmed with the choices of the different islands since each has its on unique draws. Ultimately, we wound up visiting Kauai simply because there was a resort I really wanted to stay at! Now that we’ve visited three islands, I thought I’d share our impressions so you can choose the island (and area!) that’s right for you between Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.

Oahu, specifically Waikiki: Waikiki is situated in Honolulu, a pretty major city by most people’s standards. That can be a huge positive or a huge negative depending on your affinity for the urban jungle. We appreciated being within walking distance to restaurants and shopping and unlike other Hawaiian destinations, there’s no need to rent a car if you’re staying in Waikiki. One downside is that Waikiki’s hotels are clustered together and the beaches can feel a bit cramped depending on when you’re visiting. Ultimately, Waikiki is best for those who want city amenities and access to excellent food. It’s also great for history buffs given its proximity to Pearl Harbor.

Kauai, specifically Poipu: Poipu is located at the southern end of Kauai. Unlike the area surrounding Waikiki, the drive to Poipu is marked by lush jungle vegetation (in fact, it’s the same island where Jurassic Park was shot!) and while Poipu has some nice restaurants and shopping plazas, it’s hardly a booming metropolis. Another note about Poipu is that it lacks many sand beaches, with the exception of where hotels have literally created them. Plan a trip to Kauai if you love to snorkel, are looking for laid-back luxury, or want true rest and relaxation with few things to do beyond your resort’s pool.

Maui, specifically Kapalua: Kapalua’s development is somewhere between Honolulu and Poipu: it’s not urban, but it’s far from an undeveloped wilderness. There’s a lot of restaurants in and around Kapalua as well as some high-end shopping. Beyond Kapalua is the Road to Hana drive, marked with many opportunities to dip in to freshwater pools or hike into the forest. If you’re looking for good surfing, boat activities (including snorkeling), or an active adventure, I’d recommend visiting Maui.

On our next visit, we’ll either go back to Oahu, but this time go to the North Shore area or we’ll head over to the Big Island since we’re dying to visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

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10 Quick Highlights from Spain

Highlights from Spain
Palacio de Generalife | Granada, Spain

I returned from my trip to Spain on Saturday and spent yesterday readjusting being home, doing laundry, and fighting jet lag. Our trip was the perfect mix of sightseeing and relaxation. Here’s 10 quick highlights from Spain:

  1. Indulging in jamón ibérico and croquettas at every meal
  2. Luxuriating in an Arabic bath in Granada
  3. Contemplating the devastation of war while viewing Picasso’s immense Guernica 
  4. Sampling churros in search of Madrid’s best
  5. Soaking up the sunshine along the Costa del Sol
  6. Admiring the Spanish countryside from the comfort of a Rail Europe train
  7. Meandering through winding streets in Marbella
  8. Imbibing the enexpensive, but excellent Spanish wine
  9. Admiring the bright pink and purple bougainvilleas in Seville
  10. Discovering the coolest courtyards of the homes in Cordoba
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On Saturday, I landed in Madrid and spent the weekend admiring artistic masterpieces, sampling tapas, and immersing myself in Spanish culture. We begin the swing through Andalusia this morning, stopping in Córdoba, Sevilla, and Granada until we reach the Costa del Sol.

Hasta la próxima semana,


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