Want to know a secret? I’m on a mission to travel the world. I want to visit every single country on earth, explore their culture, eat their food, listen to their language and marvel at their places of worship. But I have no intention of getting on a plane to do this. I don’t have to – these countries have come to Madrid.
So far on Madrid No Frills, we’ve been to Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Senegal, Syria, Iraq, China, India, Poland, Lebanon and – of course – Spain, and we’ve barely had to walk a mile to get there. Now we’re off to Russia and Ukraine, and all we’ve got with us is an empty shopping bag.
Across the road from Atocha station’s taxi rank, you’ll find a small supermarket owned, run and frequented mostly by Ukrainians and Russians. There’s smoked cheese, smoked meat and smoked mackerel, along with plenty of preserves, pickles, buckwheat and tinned food. Take a look for yourself in the photos below…
In the back corner, there’s a small library of books, DVDs and Eastern European ornaments. This corner also doubles up as a post office, specifically for packages sent between Spain and Eastern Europe.
If you don’t already feel like you’d been transported to Ukraine or Russia, the folk costume by the till might get you in the spirit…
Location: Calle de Méndez Álvaro, 8
This shop has as much stock and variety as Ucramarket but is slightly cheaper. Their Eastern European beer selection is huge and, at the back of the supermarket, there’s a large library and a glass cabinet of curious ornaments.
Location: Calle Rafael de Riego, 10
Also stocking a wide range of Eastern European foods, Bravo Tienda has a good spirits selection. Vodka fans, welcome home.
And don’t forget to check out the eccentric collection of Russian dolls in the window. From back to front, we have Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin…
Location: Calle Rafael de Riego, 19
BY THE WAY…
Restaurante La Polonesa also has a small shop next to its bar area with a good selection of Polish ingredients, from jars of pickles to packets of frozen pierogi. But if I were you, I’d scrap the plan to cook a Polish feast at home and eat here instead, inside their striking olde worlde dining room – which is like a portal to Poland.