I have already written about how much I love Spain, so as her representative, I would always choose her capital city, Madrid. That is not the first city of Spain that I have seen, but it certainly left a strong impression on me. I thought maybe it was because of the architecture, parks, museums, event made just for welcoming champions of 2010 Football World Cup, but I believe it is all that together, and much more, that city simply has charm and always a good atmosphere, so I present to you the beauties of Madrid.
I have traveled to Madrid in July 2010, when a friend and I decided to plan a road trip to Spain, and the itinerary was Madrid – Malaga – Valencia. We booked the return flight Belgrade – Madrid online. We also reserved a hostel in Madrid , same as Malaga, over the internet, while in Valencia we stayed with friends. From Madrid to Malaga we took a bus, and from Malaga to Valencia we flew with Ryanair which cost almost like the bus, just to explain how much we payed attention to details and the budget. So all means of transport and accommodations were booked and partially or fully payed online.
On arrival to Barajas airport we took a train to Callao station in the city center, which was the closest one to our accommodation. Since we were basically in the city center, we only used metro twice, on arrival to and return from the city. Hostel Loyola was literally 5 minutes walk from Callao station and also from the main street named Gran via, literally meaning Big street. Soon after arriving to the hostel, we ran outside because that night, on the 11th of July 2010, Spain and Netherlands were playing the finale match of World Cup in Africa. We went down to the Passeo de los Recoletos which is a pedestrian area where they have put large TV billboards so everyone can watch the game together and give the support to the national team of Spain. All were dressed up in the colors of Spain and with the national flags around them, all on the streets cheering with the message „Madrid is with national team of Spain“. Madrid has around 3 million citizens, but that night everyone were as one. After the goal and especially after referees announced the end of the game, the whole town was on their feet and you could hear loud cheering everywhere through the city.
Next day we went for a sightseeing through the city but on foot and we passed around a large part of the city center: Square Plaza de España where you can see a statue dedicated to Cervantez, a park called El parke del Oeste where you can enter in Egyptian Temple of Debod, museum La Rosaleda, beautiful gardens Jardines de Sabatini and square Plaza de la Villa, while on the other side of park you can find gate Arco de la Victoria; then nearby are also square Plaza de Oriente and square Plaza de la Almeria around Royal palace, as well as huge park Campo del Moro and gate Puerta de San Vicente; main square Plaza Mayor with the statue of Phillip the Third, and also very close is the most famous square Puerta del Sol, heart of Madrid, where you can see a famous statue of The bear and the strawberry tree which represents coat of arms of Madrid, starting point, called Kilometer 0, of Spanish radial road networks and also a famous clock which everyone is looking at on New Years eve and waiting for it to turn 12 so they can traditionally eat 12 pieces of grapes of luck. On the way we heard about the arrival of champions, and David Bisbal practiced all day. So by the evening everyone was again on the streets, cheerful and ready to wave to the team from the street or go to the event. At one point open bus for sightseeing was passing slowly through the city and footballers of national team were waving cheerfully, and citizens of Madrid and a couple of tourists like us were clapping and chanting as one. All in all it was a wonderful experience, once again sports brought people together, out on the streets and squares to welcome the champions and celebrate the national victory.
On the third day we went to the museums Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia which are near by fountain Fuente del Neptuno, gate Puerta del Alcalla and park Buen Retiro. I really love to get to know to the city I am in, so I go everywhere on foot because I see and discover more while walking, while also I enjoy in it, and I stop to take a photo wherever I want. That for me is like when you are watching the movie at home, and not the cinema, because you sometimes just get hungry right in the middle of it and you do not mind taking a brake to prepare the food. I believe that is the best way to explore and get really familiar with any city. As for the museums, do not pass on them, I strongly recommend visiting all three them, because they are called The Golden Triangle of Art for a reason! I will not reveal everything, but here are a few reasons to visit: Reina Sofia has Picasso’s Guernica which is astonishingly huge, while Prado and Thyssen have lots of Tizian, Goya, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh, etc.
Forth day we decided to finally go to that famous huge park Parque del Buen Retiro, which is the largest in Madrid. We went down to the fountain of Cibeles which is right in front of same named palace, and went to the gate Puerta del Alcalla which is on the corner of the park. It has lots of interesting things like: Fountain of the Fallen Angel, Palace named Velasquez, palace Palacio de Cristal, passage Paseo de las estatueas with a lots of statues on the way. It also has a huge lake Estanque del Buen Retiro, where people can rent boats, and a huge square Plaza de Maestro Villa where is a statue dedicated to Alfonso The Second. Apart from this there a lot of passages which look like mazes or gardens from Alice in wonderland, so do not miss this one either. You will be amazed by the size of it all and it truly is a magical place.
The last day we were just wandering around all the same places but relaxed, with no rush or schedules, and this is time is more easier to enjoy in the beauty of it all, because it is now more familiar. Alas, all my trips are short so I cannot enjoy for long in the magic of the city like locals, but I try to learn and see all of it, what streets are they taking, what is their nightlife like, where are they eating, what they enjoy doing in spare time, etc. The feeling that this city awakes in me is a feeling of safety, so I think I could definitely live there, and there is not a lot of places that I have this opinion for. People are joyful and amiable, and I don’t why but I believe there is a lot less tourists then in Barcelona. All in all, city that shows you it’s real natural beauty and stands proud representing Spain wonderfully.