Madrid: Short and Sweet

Madrid was a short stop on our ascent north to Paris, and while we did not spend long in the Spanish Capital, we tried to make the most of this large and grand city.  Madrid is not like most capitals, in the sense that there is not a cluster of monuments and attracts to see, all in the one place.  There is certainly beauty and history all around, but we found the best way to explore Madrid is to walk around without a destination in mind, to really feel the city.

Madrid has city parks bigger than Central Park in New York.  And similar to NY’s Central Park, the parks are like an oasis in the manmade, dry, jungle of the city.  Walking through the manicured gardens and tall trees that lined the dusty, sandy pathway, we found a lake dotted with little blue row boats.  Here I had my very own ‘Notebook Moment‘, as Ben and I climbed into a boat with wooden oars.  Ben happily rowed me around the quaint lake while I sat back and enjoyed watching the world go by.  We also had to laugh at the boat loads of teens on summer holiday trying to capsize and splash each other!  A very peaceful afternoon in the sun.

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Madrid follows Granada and Seville in being a very Celiac-friendly city.  For the gluten intolerant, there is a great little cafe, Celicioso (Calle Hortaleza, 3, 28004 Madrid) where you can gorge on gluten free cheesecake, cupcakes and brownies.  I had a delicious strawberry mascarpone cupcake and Ben treated himself to a caramel cheesecake.  Wasted down with a expresso, it’s an unbelievable reprieve from the usual gluten free (read: fun free) desserts offered in most cafes.

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Now while McDonalds might be the place most travellers go for a cheap meal that feels like home, it is not usually big on options for the gluten free.  And who really wants to be the person eating a salad amongst all the greasy burgers and fries?  Surprisingly, Spanish McDonald’s outlets offer gluten free buns for their burgers and at no extra cost!  Probably not the first place that comes to mind when compiling a list of restaurants to visit, but if you’re stuck and need a quick, cheap meal on the run, it’s good to know you can pop in to Maccas and grab a burger.  Anyone who is celiac or gluten free knows how great it was for me to write the previous sentence! “Popping in for a quick meal” is often not a straight forward exercise for a celiacs.

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