or better, Madrid – six days of sun, warmth and discovery: the city, the tourist attractions, the people, the food – everything. The résumé: I like it. A lot!
The main purpose of this holiday was to relax so there was quite some sleeping involved or sitting on a bench in the sunshine and reading, but I wouldn’t be my parents’ daughter if there were not a decent amount of sightseeing and cultura. Some things I did:
- Two guided tours in English organised by the tourist office: The old Madrid and Parks and Gardens by bike. Both are definitely worth it as they make it possible to discover parts of the city it would take a long time finding by yourself. And, it allows you to meet other people.
- Spending several hours in El Retiro – a wonderful, huge park in the city center. Kind of the Tiergarten of Madrid just like the Park del campo de moro, or so, close to the Royal Palace. Very nice as well.
- Visiting the botanic garden – very beautiful and a nice way to spend time, especially if you have almost two hours to wait for the train but that’s another story.
- Visiting the Prado Museum – 3 hours, good audio guide; and Muséo Reina Sofia – 3 and a half hours, excellent audio guide. Both are great, “old” and modern art – completing each other. Next time, I’ll do the Thyssen museum.
- Going over the plaza del Oriente, plaza Mayor, plaza de sol, plaza de Madrid, plaza d’España, plaza, plaza, plaza…
- Admiring the two big fountains of which I just can’t recall the names. One is the one where Real Madrid celebrates when they win something important and the other is where Atletico Madrid celebrates when they win something important.
- Going to see the change of the guard in front of the Royal Palace – every first Wednesday of the month involving 400 something men and women and 100 something horses. It was obviously cheer luck that I found this out on time and could make it. Interesting but not compulsory.
Things I discovered:
- The oldest building in Madrid is an Egyptian temple.
- Madrid is cheap. At least cheaper than Brussels. Or, if you want to say it differently: You get a lot of value for your money: A 10 metro tickets cost 7 euros; ham sandwich plus coke plus apple, 2 euro, Porras con chocolate for 3, the museums are 6, etc.
- Madrid is actually not a very old city or capital. Most of its “old buildings” are from the 17th, 18th and 19th century and there is hardly anything older.
- Madrid is a very green city with lots of parks and plenty of trees everywhere.
- In some restaurants, you pay a different price at the bar, inside and for the terrace. Or, as the nice Canadian I met put it: You’re paying for the sun.
- It can be quite cold in Madrid and I don’t mean the last picture. At least if you just got used to 25° and sunshine, 17° and a chilly wind are rather cold.
Things I loved:
- The people – welcoming, chatty, interested, open and generally willing to repeat an answer three times when I struggled to understand even the very basic concepts.
The only thing I did not like was the Gran Via – the shopping mile which is boring vain commercial as shopping miles are in any other city. If it weren’t for the sunshine, it could as well be Rue Neuve in BXL. But yeah…
Volveré en España, es seguro.