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Mother Hoods

Mother Hoods: Madrid

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Courtesy of Marta Bahillo

Got wanderlust in your veins? Then you are going to love our latest Mother Hoods city guide by Babaà Knitwear founder Marta Bahillo. The mama to Matilda, 6, and Elías, 3, lets us in on her favorite spots in her hometown of Madrid, Spain below. Now, who’s ready to book a flight?

What are your favorite places in Madrid to…
Eat with the kids?Il Tavolo Verde is great organic food in a lovely environment. They treat you like you are at home, with a big basket of nice old toys and books for kids that make everyone happy. It’s just perfect. We also love going to La Carmencita, the second oldest tavern in Madrid just up the road from our apartment. It is perfect for a long breakfast or for a quick early dinner with kids just before it gets busy. Having the best draft beer in town makes it all the better. Matilda, our eldest, loves going to Puerta del Sol to eat the typical Bocadillo de Calamares (fried squid sandwich), a tradition we do just before Christmas when the merry-go-round is up in nearby Plaza Mayor. My kids also love going to La Magdalena de Proust every day for fresh bread and organic treats. We sometimes get there early enough to see them making the bread and cakes and they just love it.”

Eat with just adults? “I love lunch at Olivia te Cuida. It is always perfect, like what you would eat at home every day, but you never manage to make in the daily rush. It is the best spot to meet a friend or for a special work meeting. Very small, intimate, and beautiful space. It always makes me feel like I’m on a little holiday.”

Shop for kids? “We like ZigZag to get nice presents, and also El Rincón Musical, which is really a piano shop, but it has hundreds of musical boxes big and small. They are so friendly, they don’t mind kids visiting and getting mesmerized.”

Shop for yourself?Do Design. There is always something nice there.”

Play with your children? “Our favorite place is El Retiro. We are lucky to live nearby and it is always the perfect plan—go to the play parks and to any of the greens to chase each other around and hide behind the trees. You can also visit the Crystal Palace and run around the lake or hire a boat and actually get a bit or rowing in and a nice view of the park. We also love the tennis courts and the library facilities on the park grounds. With my eldest, I also love going to the local flower shop Margarita Se Llama Mi Amor, even just to look around, and then go to the bookshop next door, Machado Libros. Hours can just go by in there!”

Play with your adult friends?La Filmoteca to watch a nice special movie, Circulo de Bellas Artes for the best life-drawing sessions, and a nice drink afterwards at their beautiful 1930s bar, La Pecera.”

Get out in nature? “We love getting in the car and heading out to La Barranca, it is a lovely forest and reservoir by the mountains that’s a 40-minute drive from the city center. You can totally get lost there and have a perfect day by the river. It is so great to see the seasons there, so close to the city, but obviously a very different world.”

Any good flea markets/thrift shops?El Rastro on Sundays is the typical flea market in Madrid, but there are a lot of stalls with cheap, uninteresting things now. We like heading straight to Plaza Vara del Rey for antiques, a gypsy flamenco dancing dress (every girl needs one), or small treasures. There is a great atmosphere there worth visiting.”

Any good museums/art installations? “We love the vertical garden at Caixa Forum. And Museo Sorolla is a favorite with the children and has a beautiful garden. It’s free on Sundays and it is a lovely oasis, especially as spring approaches. Museo Reina Sofia is always great. Of course, El Guernica by Picasso is a must, but if you feel overwhelmed, there is a tiny room with Sonia and Robert Delaunay’s work and a small film by the Lumiere brothers, it just cheers me up any time.”

Where do you take out-of-town visitors? “We always do long walks around the city with plenty of stops for lots of small drinks and tasty tapas. Madrid is a very sunny city all year round, so walks are always the perfect plan. We always bring them to the traditional Taberna la Dolores for a nice caña (small glass of beer) and a special duck ham or smoked cod tapa. If you are vegetarian you can go for the giant pickled aubergines. And we love bringing visitors to El Circulo de Bellas Artes, where there is always a nice exhibition and beautiful rooftop views at their azotea. We’re always hoping that our guests don’t mind the horrible loud music!”

Any tourist-y places that are worth a visit? “Of course, Museo del Prado is a must, I always recommend seeing the Black paintings by Goya and The Garden of Earthly Delights by El Bosco if you just want a quick visit. A walk by Plaza Mayor and La Latina Quarter is always nice to get a taste of the 16th Century city. And a walk at dusk by Temple de Debod and the Royal Palace is so nice, especially on warmer days.”

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