Travel Tales: Madrid, Spain

I find Madrid very distinct from Barcelona. After spending 5 days in Barcelona and moving to Madrid next, I kind of adjusted myself as they're 2 completely different cities. They're both lovely, yes, but captures you in their own respective way.
As Spain’s capital, Madrid is truly the heart and soul. The sights and sounds I experienced in Madrid pictured perfect that long-time dream of mine, of what Spain is really like. It must have been the Spanish flags hung on terraces and windows, or the quicker Spanish accent similar to that of my professors (at Instituto Cervantes de Manila - yep, I took up Spanish), or perhaps those old buildings that kind of visualize the rustic setting of Don Quixote, a book I abusively read over and over.
Madrid generally presents an urban lifestyle, but in a relaxed way. In the presence of modern buildings and roads, the city, nevertheless, has managed the cool vibe with parks, squares, and historic sites scattered around.
From Barcelona Sants in Barcelona, I took a 2.5-hour high speed train (which they call AVE) and got off at Atocha Cercanias station in Madrid. I decided to set base in Sol, which to me is a strategic district for any backpacker in Madrid. Not to mention that it’s literally the center: Spain's Kilometer 0 (Km 0) is found at Puerta del Sol.
Aside from Km 0, the busy public square of Puerta del Sol is also famed by this El Oso y el Madroño statue, a bronze sculpture of a bear leaning on a strawberry tree. It’s culturally significant, as it represents the coat of arms of Madrid. It also inspired Atlético Madrid, a football club of Madrid, to use the image as the team's official badge.
Across is the Real Casa de Correos (Royal House of the Post Office), which could easily be noticed for its striking red wall. It’s also where the monument of King Charles III is located at.
Not far from Puerta del Sol is another known landmark, the Plaza Mayor. It’s also a public square, but surrounded by strips of posh restaurants with outdoor seats. The area serves good ambiance at night.

Plaza Mayor is really huge, and it actually has 9 entrances and exits where some could lead you to narrow alleys that offer a very neighborhood feel. It’s where I let myself blend in and get lost in a maze of small shops or restaurants ran by locals who live at the apartments above it.
The famous Mercado de San Miguel is also in the same area. It's known to cater to tourists, being a glass-covered market that sells an array of Spanish tapa, a local term that refers to a snack or a small portion of any kind.
Aside from tapa, local wines, fruits, and desserts are also available. The price tends to be more expensive here, but it's an interesting market to explore. There are designated seats at the center and corners, which make it not only a market but also a sort of a pub for socializing.
As I headed further south, I caught myself in front of Teatro Real, or El Real in short, which is a known major opera house in Madrid. It's where famous international and local performances premiere. It also has a museum inside.

As said, a trip to Madrid won't be complete without seeing the majestic Palacio Real de Madrid. The palace is amazing not only for its size but more so for the elegance!

Just like the UK, Spain used to be ran by monarchy. In modern day, however, the the Royal Family of Spain only serves as symbolic leaders of the nation. And though the Palacio Real de Madrid is the so-called official residence, King Felipe VI and his family stay at Palacio de la Zarzuela, a palace in the outskirts of Madrid.
Right beside the palace is a beautiful cathedral, called the Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena or simply the Almudena Cathedral. It’s the seat of the Archdiocese of Madrid.

A short walk from the palace, the day ended at Plaza de España. It's a huge park in Madrid where lies Cervantes Monument, which is dedicated to the prolific Spanish writer and Don Quixote author, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Interestingly, the he shares the monument with 2 characters in the story: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. It’s located at the tip of Gran Via, a central boulevard in Madrid known as the seat of big shopping malls and hotel chains.

Madrid is a big city to explore with a variety of things to do. A day isn't enough, and you'll definitely ask for more!

Have you been to Madrid? Share your experiences below!



Travel Tales: Madrid, Spain Travel Tales: Madrid, Spain Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 24.9.19 Rating: 5

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