My friends (Ali and Erin) and I dropped into Madrid mid-afternoon, dropped our bags off at our youth hostel (Hostal Casto which was cheap, great location, and felt safe - but don't expect the Ritz! The most recent review is ABOUT RIGHT), and quickly went to work finding a place for a quick bite to eat before hitting up our first tourist destination. The restaurant we found had "succulent" duck and an attentive waitstaff - they were surprisingly happy to continually fuel us with bottles of wine. A little tipsy from lunch, we trolled over to take a tour of the Museo Nacional Del Prado - I'm a dope and totally thought it was called the Prada for most of the day. Inebriation aside, I highly recommend this museum. It houses beautiful pieces of art from well-known Spanish masters such as Goya and El Greco.
Following the Prado we scooted over to the Botanical Gardens, which were nice, but something I would recommend skipping if you visit in mid to late fall. Thus begins our introduction to...drumroll...SIESTA. A mere 15 minutes into our walk around the grounds we were kicked out because it was closing for the afternoon. Not quite ready to call it a day, we started to meander the streets of Madrid in search of something to amuse our little minds...or at least a bar or cafe to prevent the onset of a hangover. Closed door after closed door, we found what must have been the only open bar in Madrid - not surprisingly, we were also the only patrons in this lonely bar. With the exception of the bartender, and the late arrival of Ethan, a friend of Erin's who was studying aboard in Madrid.
Weathering siesta in our new favorite bar in Spain (plus a couple of hours), we were all ready for some dinner. It's reasonable to expect dinner around 7pm, right? WRONG-O! Workers will (actually) go back to work after siesta, which causes the work day to end much later. So, people won't eat dinner until 8 - 9pm. Beware - while I found it extremely fun to bop around Madrid getting my makeup done at some random department store, making late night pit stops for cheap and yummy chicken & fries, and do a little sightseeing:
(ha - nothing like taking pics in front of a monument - Casa de la Panaderia - in the dark, shortly after the chicken & fries).
This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. Some good alternatives are to simply take advantage of the downtime (write some postcards, rest/freshen up for the long night ahead), take a long walk, OR FIND A BAR TO BOND WITH FRIENDS OVER SHARED SHENANIGANS.