Madrid

The middle-aged vegan skateboarder's guide to nutrition security in Madrid


First: Nutrition security - in your case - includes (1) food security, i.e. access to suitable food, and (2) access to sufficient and safe drinking water, and toilets so you can stay hydrated.

Second: There's a great skate park near the Vicente Calderon footbal stadium (Estadio Vicente Calderon). The skatepark is called "Skatepark Manzanares". Manzanares is the name of the river in Madrid (there's only one river). The sign outside the skatepark says "pista de skate y patinaje". It's about 1 km south (along the river) of Calderon stadium. The skate park is part of many leisure activity installations bordering the river - with wide skateable cycling/running/walking/skating paths running along both sides of the river.
More skate spots are listed on Welcome Skateboard Shop's skate map.

See Happy Cow for a listing of restaurants.

During the summer many (all) small businesses seem to have "summer opening hours" (horario de verano) - they are closed or closed most of the time.

This is B13 bar (all vegan) - closed for summer vacations. It's on Calle de la Ballesta 13. At the beginning of the street there's a little square with middle-aged prostitutes waiting for customers. B13 is quite close to Callao metro station, and close to VEGA (all vegan tapas bar).
 

VEGA was open! 

The food in VEGA is tapas, i.e. small portions, but they seem to have an evening menu (?), small portions. I had a burger which was great, except for the bun which tasted like the TESCO burger buns we used to use at POGO CAFE, but this tasted like the buns when they were a few days old (one day pre-mould). The roast potatoes were not good (crap). The fair trade cola was tiny (fun sized). The café was packed with "normal people", locals of all ages.   
    The people in the street in Madrid are extremely friendly and helpful. Imagine a friendly German (if you can) and multiply that by 10 billion billion. The service in restaurants and shops in Madrid seems to be crap - one blogger wrote "as if they were annoyed we were there". That's exactly how it is. So compared to that the service in VEGA was great. They were very friendly as in: they were smiling and speaking in a friendly way. But when we arrived (the place was still almost empty) and said we were not sure if we were just going to drink something, we were told we cannot sit at the nicer tables in the front, but should move to the plastic tables at the back. When we did, we were told that they were running a business so if we were just going to have drinks, we should order now, drink, and leave soon, not hang around. We then ordered food - not out of fear to be kicked out, but just to try it out. However someone with less self-esteem would have probably feared to be carried out by the nape of their neck by some huge bodybuilder bouncer as soon as they would have sipped their last sip. After we had finished the last morsels of our tiny (from my glutton perspective) portions, that is after quite a short time, one of the staff approached (our plastic table in the back) and told us that he would bring us the bill so we could pay. 
If I was younger I would use stronger language. I'm all for supporting vegan businesses (and we even tipped them 10% because I do so out of principle after having worked in several restaurants) but there might be an appropriate limit to everything.    


Botanique (all vegan) was closed. It's located inside a market with lots of meat and fish (smell), opposite a health food store.   

Callao metro station
Leafleting is the best way of people watching (except for looking at lurkers at the skate park).

At Plaza de Callao there's a huge Corte Inglés department store - toilets at the very top floor, where the restaurants are, one up from where the dentists are! You have a great view from the viewing platforms/balconies. At Plaza de Callao there's also a Costa coffee shop. They have soya milk and don't charge extra for it. So you can have a soya cappuccino for ~3 Euros. And this "caracola integral con arandanos" is vegan. They also have toilets.
 

Plant milks in a small Carrefour in the centre.

Next to Lago metro station there's a huge park called "Casa de Campo". Maybe you shouldn't go there after night falls. The street next to Lago metro station is also "full" of prostitutes as soon as evening comes.

In the centre you can see lots of waxed ledges.

I saw this in a window. Not sure if I've ever eaten this: dulce de batata (sugar and some sweet potato), seems to be vegan. 


Note: the double cream Oreos aren't vegan. Not that I'm a fan of Oreos. They're just everywhere.

Not vegan. Not that I'm a fan of store bought cakes, but this kind of cake display is what we need in the future (amongst other things) to convince people to eat vegan.

Ah-ha-ha-ha-ham the owl.

To serve wine

To drink wine

Inside the Mercado San Miguel (near Sol metro station) - apparently famous

I found these late in the evening in a Chinese grocery in the centre.

Chinese restaurant

From a Chinese grocery in the centre

I didn't find Chueca all that interesting.
A church with free wifi and toilets, and companion animals allowed. 

 

Outside a market in Chueca

A vegetarian restaurant in Chueca


Churros are said to be always vegan, but they are usually eaten with non-vegan hot chocolate (or melted chocolate). They are deep-fried doughy things. You can streusel some sugar over them. You can buy them in a churrería. "Streusel" means sprinkle.

The horchata (tiger nut milk = chufa nut milk) at Meastro Churrero has milk proteins added, like almost everywhere.

The only vegan horchata I've found is the "light" (= ligera) version of CHUFI. I bought this in a Día supermarket. I was told it has the original horchata taste.
I think these are from Día.



Note: This is the vegan "CHUFI Ligera". The "CHUFI Original" contains milk proteins.


CHUFI Orginal - NOT vegan

Some places sell falafel, usually they are "Döner Kebab" places. At least in this place they told me the falafel is without eggs or milk. Some of the sauces might not be vegan (for example they might serve it with yoghurt sauce). I'm not sure what the typical sauces are for falafel in Madrid. 
This place is next Alto de Extremadura metro station. The prices are probably higher in the centre. 

If you need super glue, look for a ferretería.

A Hare Krishna restaurant called Gauranga with delicious vegan cake, vegan samosas, and vegan dinner options I was told by the extremely friendly and helpful man in the restaurant. I only tried the cake which my non-vegetarian cake tester called delicious.  

There are many health food stores called "herbolario". They're usually quite expensive and like in many places a greate source of terrible health and nutrition misinformation.

A ludicrous display of plant milks.

HIBER is another supermarket chain, apart from Mercadona, Día, and Carrefour. I don't know anything about it, except that I was in one and bought vanilla aroma. 

At Alto de Extremadura metro station I found a small Latin American grocery store called "Locutorio".
Harina de Chuño = flour made of some kind of Peruvian potato. Red beans - I took a picture of this because of the nice packaging and because it's rare to see Paraguayan products, I think.

Sugar in a tetra brick - available in all grocery shops

Vegan chocolate biscuits in Locutorio

Frozen ají amarillo: orange spicy bell pepper (Locutorio). The also sell ají amarillo paste in a jar.

Entrance to Locutorio (Alto de Extremadura metro station)

Panela: ask your Colombian friends. It's sugar.

Ecuadorian banana flour, and Peruvian green pea flour

Loving Hut (near Plaza de España)


Mashed potato balls

Seitan curry

Sweet and sour vegan scampi ("shrimps")

After almost everone had left

Side view of Loving Hut


Around the corner from Loving Hut is the Mercado de los Mostenses. Inside you can buy Madrid's best smoothies = batidos, for example avocado, soya milk and sugar - you choose. They're quite cheap. They have a huge variety of exotic fruits. The batido booth is inside the market, just walk in you'll see it. Almost all the other booths sell meat.

Outside the Mercado de los Mostenses is a Chinese supermarket called "Super Wantong". They sell tofu for 90 cents!





Batidos from Mercado de los Mostenses

There's another Chinese supermarket a few houses up the street. 





Mercadona supermarket is a good place to shop.


Soya custard and soya yoghurts




Really good, cheap soya milk. If you buy a pack of 6 it's a bit cheaper.







This one is good.





These I tried, quite good.


In Madrid during the summer all chocolate must be kept in the fridge which leads to the much feared white "frost" - doesn't make the chocolate any worse. Chocolate in your backpack will liquify if not condensate. 


Altramuces = lupin beans



"Smoked salt" (salt with smoke aroma)


Calle de la Montera is a street off Sol (= Sol vodafone) metro station. This street, too, is famous for prostitutes. There's a statue at this square (Puerta del Sol) of Madrid's symbol: el oso y el madroño = the bear and the strawberry tree. To the bear's right hand side lies Calle de la Montera.  

The bear and the strawberry tree  


KFC has toilets upstairs (beginning of Calle de la Montera)


The Igualdad Animal/Animal Equality office is on Calle de la Montera


Vans store at the end of Calle de la Montera. 
No one in the shop seemed to have every stood on a skateboard - prejudice. They didn't sell any of the "core skate" shoes that Vans makes but none of them seem to be vegan anyway. Note: Small leather details on all canvas shoes are often real leather (even if it's very thin). The "old skool" classic Vans (the ones Ian MacKaye used to wear on Minor Threat photos), are available in all canvas (without suede heel and toe cap) - BUT some of these are have a synthetic Vans "wave/stripe", some of them have a real leather Vans stripe (it looks thicker than the synthetic one), and some of them have a canvas Vans stripe - I had never seen then canvas stripe version before. I was tempted to buy the blue all canvas with a white canvas stripe - because I had the non-vegan ones as a rebellious youth. I didn't buy them.  


Planeta Vegano (near Lavapiés metro station) is a 100% vegan store. I tried some Spanish made vegan versions of cheese and sausages: Salchichón, Chorizo, Gouda style cheese, and Fuet. I was surpised the cheese was good! (But it's a bit crumbly.) The sausages were good, too. The salchichón and fuet seemed similar. My favourite was the chorizo. I tested it on non-vegetarians, and they approved of the salchichón, the Gouda (!), and the fuet, but not the chorizo. 
Planeta Vegano has normal opening hours, and was open throughout the day.


On the same street as Planeta Vegano is "Viva Chapata", a non-vegetarian place with clearly marked vegan options: sandwiches and a burger.



Close-by is a shouting Angela Davis...

.. and Oveja Negra (all vegan restaurant) - it was open, but it was closed.


This is Principe Pío, a metro station and a shopping mall. The mall has the most beautiful toilets, a cinema, and a Pull & Bear (they're all over the city, but this one has friendly staff!), which is a Spanish fashion chain with cheap prices, also some non-leather shoes and belts. 

In Retiro, a big park, where skateboarders, longboarders and rollerbladers flock, especially the latter two. There isn't any particular skate spot, just lots of space.



There are storks, ducks, and geese in the Manzanares river. The storks can be seen from Puente de Segovia (at least I always saw them there). I was told they were kidnapped and brought to Madrid.

Waxed ledges next to Puente de Sogovia, probably waxed by BMXers. The ground is good, the ledges are very rough.

Close to the Skatepark Manzanares, but on the other side of the river

A bike shop with a hidden early 90s Santa Cruz board. 

All along the Madrid Río area (also directly at the Skatepark Manzanares) there's free drinking water available from golden taps! Along the river paths there are some restaurants with free toilets (doors can't be locked) - there's one around Calderon Stadium but on the opposite side of the river..

Close to Puente de Segovia I saw a piece of paper with a nutrition pyramid on it on the ground. I picked it up and it was a vegan nutrition pyramid based on Becoming Vegan (2000 version) by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, translated and designed by José Valle for ALA (Acción Liberación Animal) the animal rights organization preceding Igualdad Animal/Animal Equality. 

Shi-Shang, an Asian vegetarian restaurant in the centre - it was closed - it was supposed to be open, but I was only passing by by chance anyway.

There are a few Taco Bells in Madrid. Taco Bell has a vegetarian burrito: Burrito de arroz y frijoles, but it has cheese and a creamy sauce. It might be possible to replace the cheese and creamy sauce with guacamole. It probably costs around 6 or 7 Euros. There is a Taco Bell close to Plaza de España. Close-by is also Punto Vegano - a small 100% vegan restaurant. Someone recommended me to go there, but when I passed by it wasn't open. Maybe you should try it out. This is very close to Templo de Debot, an ancient Egyptian temple inside a park with a nice view.

Telepizza has restaurants all over Madrid and also (mainly) does home delivery. The Pizza de la Huerta ordered without cheese is vegan, and the Pizza Calzzone Vegetal ordered without cheese might be (?). Telepizza says this about vegan options (vegetarianos estrictos): "Los Vegetarianos estrictos sólo pueden consumir Ensaladas con aceite y vinagre y Pizza de masa clásica con tomate, sin queso, y con vegetales.
However according to the allergy sheet ALL the normal kinds of pizza dough (masa) seem vegan, i.e. "clásica" (normal), "fina" (thin), and "integral" (wholewheat), see the PDF with allergen info


Telepizza: Pizza de la Huerta, masa clásica, sin queso (without cheese). Family size (suitable for one skateboarder).


El Triangulo de las Verduras: a vegetarian café with vegan options - all the options with an asterisk (on the board) are available as vegan options. They had a skateboard clock and a Youth of Today LP as decoration (amongst many other things).
This is close to Puente de Segovia and Puerta del Ángel metro station. I bought falafel for take away and it came without any sauce or bread or anything. The woman who served me was extremely friendly. They speak English, too. 


Tutti Frutti ice cream. This is located between Principe Pío and Plaza de Espana (Cuesta de San Vicente 22). The fruit sorbets are vegan, and the ice cream cones are vegan, too!!! You'll have to ask which flavours exactly are "sin huevos y sin leche" - I don't remember. "Nata" means cream, it's not vegan. The ice cream is good, but a little expensive. I tried mango and watermelon (sandía).







Almost everywhere these Nestlé ice creams are sold. The PIRULO Watermelon (= sandía) is vegan (and probably some of the others at the bottom of the sign), and it doesn't taste watery at all. The melon seeds are chocolate buttons!

Picture intentionally sideways


This is in Calle Portugal near Puente de Segovia


Two hours north of Madrid: Buitrago del Lozoya
You can take a coach from Plaza de Castilla metro station (coach: ~5 Euros one way). Buitrago del Lozoya is a village. Ask where to find the swimming pool (piscina) - cross the highway and walk 15 min. Behind the swimming pool there's a huge barrier lake (pantano). You can pay the entrance fee to the pool, walk past the pool and go to the lake, or you can by-pass the entrance fee booth to its left, and follow the slightly longer path to the lake, it's open and free, almost no people. 
In the village there's a big natural lake where you can swim or rent a kayak. There's also a castle.
There are also some small grocery shops in the village. One was open at some point on a Sunday (ELYAS).
(The coach back to Madrid will pick you up along the highway just opposite of where you got out - you're supposed to get out one stop before the village of Buitrago itself. The "bus stop" is a red plastic pillar on the side of the highway. It has the coach timetable on it.)

Pantano (a bit outside of Buitrago, next to the piscina):
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lake in Buitrago in the village - here you can rent kayaks. This lake has many fish (fishes!), also quite big ones. The barrier lake (pantano) has only very few tiny fishes.

 
 


Rascafría
From Plaza de Castilla metro station in Madrid you can take another coach to Rascafría. There are some natural swimming pools which are part of a river. The pools are harder to find than in Buitrago, the coach takes quite a bit longer, runs less often, and the pools are small. There are many people and "lots" of rubbish. 
Up the river from the natural swimming pools. Here you can find many smaller pools.


At the airport I didn't see many interesting food options. The vending machines in Terminal 4 (area U, after check-in) had Oreos. The coffee vending machine also had roibos tea (or something similar) for 1 Euro. Everything else is overpriced. 



Moral of the story:
The best places to buy fresh fruit and vegetables are stores called fruterías. They also sell white bread (barras de pan), baguette or ciabatta, and sometimes bread buns, too. This plain white bread should be vegan. It’s normally made from just flour, water, salt and yeast. If you go to a bakery (panadería), they will probably also have fancier types of white bread containing milk. Pig fat doesn’t seem to be used, luckily. Fruterías also sell avocados. Fruterías often also sell dried legumes. Some also sell cooked legumes in jars, like canned legumes, just in glass jars. These are also available in supermarkets like Mercadona. The fruit and vegetables in Mercadona also seem quite good quality and cheap – similar to fruterías. Supermarkets (and many other shops) sell soya milk. The cheapest tofu I’ve ever seen is sold by Super Wantong near Mercado de los Mostenses (in Super Wantong they speak Spanish, English, and Chinese). Nuts (frutos secos) are available in supermarkets and some other shops that say “Frutos Secos”. Often nuts are salted and flavoured but plain nuts like almonds and walnuts are also available.
The Telepizza pizza is good. I recommend trying some of the Spanish made sausages available from Planeta Vegano. Supermarkets don’t seem to sell vegan sausages/burgers – at least I didn’t see any.
Patatas bravas are widely available in bars and eateries. They should always be vegan. They are roast potatoes with “Patatas bravas sauce” – I didn’t try them.

I went to several skate shops. Toxic World has a lot of longboards and classic Powell & Peralta shirts. Powell seems to have “always” been worshipped by Spanish skaters. LACANAU Skate & Surf is the closest skate shop to Skatepark Manzanares. The owner was extremely friendly, and very surprised that I was looking for shoes for skateboarding that AT THE SAME TIME are NOT leather. He seemed to not have come across vegan skateboarders before. I also went to Conflict skate shop and one other – I passed by them by chance. I didn’t go to Welcome skate shop – but Willy Santos seems to have been there around the same time I was in Madrid. You might also see some kids with the Welcome Wu-Tang W logo on their grip tapes.


In summer it’s hottest during the afternoon. I always skated late mornings until late midday. I recommend a relatively low fibre breakfast (no “digestive discomfort” like stomach cramps etc.) if you go skating directly after breakfast. I just had a glass of soya milk with extra sugar and some soya flour stirred in. After skating I had the same (rapidly available sugar), then I had lunch. If you go skating (or exercise in other ways) every day, eat enough for dinner, enough carbs, too, like a Tour de France cyclist.  




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