the Birkenstock Madrid sandal photographed in Madrid

What comes to mind when you think of Madrid, Spain’s capital and largest city?  If you’re anything like I was, you’d be able to name the Birkenstock sandals, Real Madrid football team and probably not a whole lot more. Barcelona seems to get all the hype, with its Gaudi masterpieces, music festivals and huge hordes of tourists. However, flights to Madrid were cheap and the city had been recommended to me by a couple of wise travellers. So off I went with four of my nearest and dearest, on an intrepid trip to Spain’s underrated capital.

schuh visits madrid

But before we begin our whirlwind tour, what is a gal to wear on her feet for this Castilian adventure? The classic black Birkenstock Madrid sandals, natch! I already own a pair of trusty Birkenstock Arizonas, which have travelled around the world with me (not to Arizona though, sad!) so the slinkier Madrid seemed a perfect choice for a cosmopolitan city break. Also, the name. Oh, how we laughed!  Anyway…

Madrid is awesome. If you like amazing food, free flowing booze, beautiful buildings and art you will fall in love. Also if you are sick of elbowing your way through masses of British tourists and the sight of stag and hen parties makes you cringe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a city bustling with life, yet very authentically Spanish.

schuh enjoying food and drink in Madrid

First of all, lets talk about the food. The deal is that with every drink you buy, you get a tapa free to your table. ‘Free food’ is probably my favourite word combo in the world. We spent many an evening enjoying delicious tapas complemented by the local brew, Mahou (which one of us could pronounce properly), and large shots of Vermut (a kind of red Martini served with ice and a slice of fresh orange). I loved going out for dinner and drinks with my toes out, and didn’t feel underdressed at all. The Madrillenos eat and party well into the night so we tried our best to keep up.

If drinking and eating isn’t your biggest concern, first of all what’s wrong with you?  And second of all, don’t worry! Madrid is full of art galleries, vintage markets and beautiful parks waiting to be explored.

schuh and Birkenstock go to Madrid

My Birkenstocks took me all round the city, bearing up fabulously on a three hour jaunt around the giant Reina Sofia gallery of contemporary art with not a blister in sight! Other highlights were strolling through the Sunday El Rastro market and taking a jolly boat ride in the gorgeous Park de Retiro. I felt pretty smug about my choice of footwear until the skies opened and we all got absolutely soaked!  But my worries were unfounded as the Madrids turned out to have excellent grip on those slippy Spanish tiles and they dried out quickly once the sun popped out again!

I could go on but I think I’ve made you jealous enough already so if you’ve ever thought to venture beyond Barcelona, Madrid gets my top vote. And don’t forget those trusty Birkies.

a Madrid street at night