Travel blog: Madrid, Spain

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Viva Madrid! With our backpacks ready we took a plane from Berlin to Madrid, traveling about 3 hours in total to their main airport, Barajas International airport. From our terminal, it was quite a walk to the train station, but everything was connected inside the building. From there, you can take the Metro all the way to the city center.

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We stayed in the heart of the city, in Pricipe Pio Hotel located at Cuesta de San Vicente, 14, 28008 Madrid, Spain. I would rate this hotel as a 3 star hotel, it had all the complete amenities as well as nice and accommodating front desk attendants. Their rooms were standard, and spacious, although, to get a view of the Madrid palace you’ll need to pay a little bit more and ask for a room on the top floor. The hotel is located, along the Cuesta San Vicente street, it’s a big intersection 9-minute walk from the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid, this charming hotel lies 6 km from Zoo Aquarium de Madrid.

The quaint rooms provide free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and desks. Room service is available.

The hotel offers a breakfast buffet (with a 9 EUR fee), plus there’s a formal restaurant and a wood paneled bar. Other amenities include an elegant, warmly decorated lounge with a fireplace and crown molding ceilings, plus free parking and bike rentals.

Our first stop was to walk up a hill towards the Templo de Debod in the Parque de la Montaña northwest of Plaza de España. The temple was dedicated to the god Amon of Thebes, about 20km south of Philae in the Nubian desert of southern Egypt. According to some authors of myth and legend, the goddess Isis gave birth to Horus in this very temple, although obviously not in Madrid. The day was crisp and golden, around 4 PM is a good time to stroll, most of the site goers were lovers and groups of friends. It was a nice start of the tour on foot. Yes, we did the whole city tour on foot.


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Albi and I prefer to walk around cities by walking, literally we hike most of the streets and just take the metros when it’s a bit further down the city. When going around Madrid, I highly suggest wearing walking shoes. This trip was quite special because I forgot to wear proper shoes, since it was so cold in Berlin, I used my normal city boots and forgot to wear my sneakers. Walking with those boots was not the best idea apparently, I had blisters in every toe after the trip.

March is a good time to explore the city, the temperature is just right for a walk around, it’s between 11-17 degrees during the day, and around 8-10 degrees during the night time.

Since we lived so close to the palace of Madrid, it was definitely a first in the agenda. I’ve always been curious about palace interiors, and Madrid seemed to be a promising one. When you enter the courtyard, you wouldn’t really know which entrance to go through, the palace is designed quadratically. You have various entrances all throughout the courtyard. The famous architect Sabatini designed the southeast wing and the great staircase, or staircase of honour. It has a square floor plan with a large central courtyard. The Puerta del Príncipe gateway on the east side gives access to the central courtyard.

Plaza de la Armería
Grand Staircase, built by Sabatini
Grand Staircase, built by Sabatini

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The Madrid palace has 135,000 square metres (1,450,000 sq ft) of floorspace and contains 3,418 rooms. It is the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area. The interior of the palace is notable for its wealth of art and the use of many types of fine materials in the construction and the decoration of its rooms. I have never seen so much decorations in my life. As beautiful as it was, I thought it was a little too much. Taking photos is allowed in some parts of the area, but inside it’s usually forbidden.

For the interiors, a choice of rich materials were used: Spanish marble, Stucco, Mahogany doors and windows and important works of art, particularly frescoes by leading artists of the moment as Giaquinto, Tiepolo and Mengs and his Spanish followers Bayeu and Maella. The details of the walls and the handicraft masterpieces of each room will take your breath away. The intricate details and well thought of patterns show you a glimpse of the grandeur of the way kings lived during that era.

The decoration of the Royal Palace of Madrid has been changing over time according to the different artistic styles of the moment.

As we walked up the bigger roads we came across Palacio de Cibeles,  formerly the Palace of Communication until 2011, is a palace located on the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, Spain. Over the years the palace and fountain have become symbolic monuments of the city. We climbed up the rooftop to get a glimpse of the city scape. From here you see a 360 deg view of Madrid. Worth the climb!

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The Calles, one of the things we enjoyed in Madrid was their little calles, here in these quaint and tiny streets you will find the bustling life of the city. The unique thing about Madrid is the facade of their buildings, in every European country there is a difference in style and design in each building. We enjoyed walking the streets of Cava Alta where you can find old and unique restaurants. Here you can find good gambas, jamon and grilled octopus.

We also did a walking tour through, Puerta del Sol, The Gran Via, Puerta de Alcala, Paseo Del Prado, Calle Cristobal, Calle de Mayor, Plaza de Mayor etc…

Another link can guide you through some other walking tours (http://www.likealocalguide.com/blog/7-streets-in-madrid-you-cant-miss/)

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Plaza de Mayor

“This majestic square was originally planned by Felipe II and his architect Juan de Herrera, but was inaugurated in 1620 during Felipe III’s reign, whose statue sits proud in the very centre of the square. Juan Gómez de Mora gave it its rectangular form, and after it had suffered three fires Juan de Villanova completed the work in 1853 by joining the four sides. The square has been called Plaza Mayor since the 15th century, but was built on the site of the old Plaza del Arrabal and served as a market square until the late 19th century.”

It was an interesting sight, a little bit of a tourist trap as most of the things sold here are a little more expensive than the smaller streets. If you go through the little calles on the side, you will find authentic spanish delicacies for less.

Along the plaza you will see the surrounding three-storey houses with their many balconies are still lived in by the elite of Spain during their time. Public executions, crowning ceremonies, bullfights, Inquisition trials and diverse fiestas have all taken place right here in the square.

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At night there are a lot of Mercados where you can experience the famous, Spanish Tapas. Here you will find little bite size pieces of mouth watering snacks. In Spain, tapas can be practically anything– from a chunk of tuna, a cocktail onion and an olive skewered on a long toothpick, to piping hot chorizo sausage served in a small clay dish, to a gourmet slow-cooked beef cheek served over a sweet potato puree – or anything in between.

Most bars, include a free tapas (salami, bread and olives etc) alongside an order of large beer, they usually come for free. We visited Mercado de San Miguel with some friends and ate the night away. On another night, Mercado de san Anton in Chueca is also a good place to get Tapas. Here we sat on the terrace and enjoyed one of the many balconies of Madrid.

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The retiro park was one of our last stops, there you would see just a gallery of beautiful trees, and a lake smack center of the park. Retiro Park is by far the most beautiful parks i’ve seen in Europe. I want to see them all!

The Buen Retiro Park (“Park of the Pleasant Retreat”, in english) is the first biggest park of Madrid city. It has 1.4 km2 (350 acres) at the edge of the city center. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It’s a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and host to a variety of events.

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For dinner drop by the oldest standing restaurant in the world, BOTIN restaurant.

It’s not every day that you can eat in the oldest restaurant in the world (the Guinness Book of Records has recognised it as the oldest – established in 1725). The secret of its staying power is fine cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig; €25) and cordero asado (roast lamb; €25) cooked in wood-fired ovens. Eating in the vaulted cellar is a treat.

Yes, it’s filled with tourists. Staff run around like crazy people because of the influx of people coming in and out. The restaurant is three floors accessed through a small narrow staircase which displays a number of old photographs and memorabilia through the years. They still practice the original recipes which the restaurant was founded on.IMG_9340 IMG_9345 IMG_9355

The art scene is bustling as well in the city, art plays a very crucial role in the city’s current influence. You can choose between Reina Sofia Museum, Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Marqués de Cerralbo… This website gives a more detailed explanation on what to expect with each museum in the city. (http://www.timeout.com/madrid/art/madrids-best-museums)

Picasso, Dali, Diego Velazquez, Goya, Rembrandt and Bosch are some of the names you can come across while browsing through the museum galleries.

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Last but not the least, what is Madrid without visiting their football stadium!

Real Madrid is one of the three great Madrid teams in the Professional Football League, alongside Atlético de Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. The club’s track record includes an array of European and international titles. The stadium is open 363 days a year so that football fans and sports enthusiasts can visit the historic facilities,  and it is one of the capital’s busiest tourist attractions.

Named after the club’s legendary president who headed Real Madrid between 1943 and 1978, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium was opened in 1947. It has a capacity for 81,044, 245 VIP boxes and four restaurants (La Esquina, Puerta 57, Real Café Bernabéu and Zen Market, all of them closed during matches).

– See more at: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/estadio-santiago-bernabeu#sthash.6eoY8a9i.dpuf

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All in all, Madrid was a treat, I would go back just to enjoy another round of gambas. Cheers to Spain and their lovely people, weather and amazing food!

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Comment (1)

  • Anne breiter -

    Wow! Nice one,Jem 🙂 Great tips for traveller and will surely hit those places 👌🏻😍

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