It took me years to plan a trip to Madrid and then suddenly you visit the city two summers in a row. A problem? No, certainly not. Madrid was on my list for centuries. First I went with my sister, thereafter with a group of friends.
I just love huge palaces, churches and other historical buildings. Madrid has it all. It’s not necessarily a beautiful city. I missed water and green spaces, but the food is excellent and culturally you can be busy for weeks.
Let’s come straight to the point. On day one the royal palace was the first activity on the program. It looks majestic, but when you look at the building with more detail, you’ll see that it can use a bit of paint. I am not very eager to trade places with the owner haha, all the maintenance would drive me crazy. Inside, however, it is all splendor what you see. I very much like grand ballrooms, wall and ceiling decorations, kitsch furniture, everything completely over the top. Continuously, I imagine how people dined, partied, lonely wandered around. You can only suspect that these walls keep so many secrets of the Spanish nobility.
The main building does not contain any huge surprises. It is more the usual fuss that you can expect in any European royal palace. However, there is another exhibition in a side building with the weaponry. That is actually quite worth a visit. Especially because, in addition to swords and armor, dozens of horses (fake obviously) are displayed with the most fantastic upholstery and protection gear.
You cannot and must not leave Madrid without visiting one of the great museums, or all of them. This nerd can’t get enough of it haha. The Museo del Prada and Reina Sofia are the most famous. They are also very big, too big actually. It is wise to get an audio guide and do the “highlights” tour. In case you might think, classic and modern art…..whatever, then Madrid is also a fantastic city for shopping. Check shopping street Calle de Fuencarral and the districts Malasaña and Chueca left and right of this long street.
Are you secretly still curious why everyone is so hip hip hurrah crazy about art, then only go to the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. In my humble opinion this museum really stands out. It is relatively small and therefore very accessible. It has both classic pieces and modern art. I always take many pictures of the paintings (that is not allowed everywhere) with the idea to print them at home and make a collage. A great plan, performance….very poor. This time I had thought of buying beautifully printed versions in the museum shop. You might have guessed, but these too are still neatly packed in the museum bag. Here are a few of my favourites.
Vincent van Gogh
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
After all those artifartifacts, it’s time to chill out. This can be done anywhere with a delicious glass of wine and tasty tapas. Mercado San Miguel is worth a visit and restaurant Meson del Champiñon, a stone’s throw away, is a must. If you really want to get a breath of fresh air, then Parque del Buen Retiro is the place to go to for your daily piece of green in this city. On hot days many Madrilenians will visit this park to relax, but fortunately it does not feel crazy crowded.
Madrid is also very suitable to explore by bike. I did a guided tour with my friends. Very educative and in a short time you see a lot. Some exercising after too much food and too much wine works purifying! Visit www.trixi.com for bike rental and tours. They have English, Dutch, French and German speaking guides.
One more thing about Madrid. Churros. Huh what … do you know them? Basically it’s something typically Spanish, but in Madrid I have eaten the best ever. Well, what is it exactly? Churros are sweet fried dough sticks you dip into liquid chocolate! Irresistible. For the best churros you have to go to Chocolatería San Ginés (Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5). It is near Plaza Mayor in the middle of the city. It is mega touristy, but the Churros are worth it and the crowds and ambiance of the venue is a great experience.
In case you would like to visit Madrid soon, order your Lonely Planet via the Bookdepository (click here) or via Amazon and click on the book below.
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