” I would never again be the same. This is the magic of travel. Any travel. You leave your home secure in your own knowledge and identity, but as you travel, the world in all its richness intervenes. You meet people you could not invent; you see scenes you could not imagine. Your own world, which was so large as to consume your whole life, becomes smaller and smaller until it is only one tiny dot in space and time. You return a different person.”
( From Letters to my Son, by Kent Nerburn)
… And so we begun our journey to explore Spain, Costa Brava and before the Universe intervened, the South of Spain and Morocco…
We arrived to Madrid for our stay there for three days. The weather was incredible and it was May, just barely Spring; we were so fortunate a heat wave came along whispering good wishes of warm weather for us. The thing about Madrid is that everything is walking distance. We were lucky to stay a half block from the Reina Sofia Museum http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en , right across Atocha Station where all Buses and Trains come to and leave from.
I highly recommend that area as it’s still very affordable, a very groovey, artsy, trendy neighborhood with great Bodegas to grab a quick bite , vino or beer or dine like you haven’t in a really long time! All restaurants and Bars are open it seems all day and until the wee hours, so whenever you’re hungry you can just waltz in! This doesn’t happen in small towns in Spain, so enjoy!
The first things we did was do our Museum stops: Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia, PLEASE NOTE! If you check online, both Museums are FREE after a certain hour. At this point in the year it was after 5 pm and 6 pm. We had plenty of time to check out all the breathtaking Artwork before the Museums closed!
We chose a certain day to just wonder around the city and wall to all the tourist points. Now, we consider ourselves ” Travelers, opposed to Tourists” we try avoiding the usual crowded places and love discovering places, talking to the locals, meet new people sharing all the world and trying new foods… this said, there are very touristy places that are UNMISSABLE !!!
Our walk through the city hitting all the tapas bars at night was one of the highlights…Everyone looks so relaxed even right out of the office …the beautiful old buildings , the twinkly little lights…crowds laughing…Spain is truly Magical ❤
In order to do all this, make sure to wear comfy walking shoes!. Without even noticing, we’d walk around 8 to 10 k per day…just wandering! If you’re a girl like myself, I like to still be fashionable , you don’t have to dress like a potato bag to be comfortable! Wear layers: the weather changes several times during the day and you want to be prepared and avoid a cold. Bring bottled water in your backpack from any grocery or liquor store: Once you get close to the very touristy spots water is super overpriced and stores are hard to come by, so you wind up buying water a restaurant, which is a total no-no!!!
Ready to explore as we like, we walked to Parque del Retiro: A Beautiful park very close to Museo del Prado, be ready to walk a lot! Be bold to ask directions as there are so many little streets in the park it can get a tad bit confusing! http://www.esmadrid.com/es/retiro
We decided to walk to the Palacio de Cristal, which is truly a gift to the eyes and the soul; a quiet building with an incredible story behind it, we happened to find this French Artist’s exhibit with rocking chairs… if you find it make sure you sit on one of the rocking chairs in it and look up to the trees…and take it all in 🙂 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palacio_de_Cristal
If you are in Madrid on a Sunday, a fun thing to do is to go to El Rastro ( from 9am to 3pm), an open flea market that dates as far as 1497 and has been declared historical heritage in Spain… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Rastro
Be ready: It get’s crowded. And by that I mean people breathing in your ear, elbows everywhere and a mass of people just transporting you through the street! ! Carry as little as possible with you and if you bring your purse, place it facing Forward. We did not experience any burglary at all, but everyone who lived around there told us to simply ” watch it”, so I’m just passing it along… El Rastro was a lovely, lovely experience!
As we walked down from Puerta del Sol on Cervantes Street towards Atocha Station direction…wondering the streets we stumbled upon a very quiet Block…We spotted this charming house with a humble sign outside…. Little did we know it was
The House-Museum of Lope de Vega (Casa-Museo de Lope de Vega) is the former home of the” Golden age” writer Lope de Vega. The sixteenth-century house was bought by the writer in 1610. Today it is conserved by the Real Academia Española, which is the institution responsible for the regulation of the Spanish language. The Academy restored the house and opened it as a museum in 1935, the same year the building was declared a National Monument.
We walked through the gorgeous hallway into the quiet little patio and just sat on Lope de Vega’s bench. It is all still intact : a very old door, the fig trees, his veggie garden. I closed my eyes and once again just heard the silence and took it all in ❤ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House-Museum_of_Lope_de_Vega
If you need to get a little shopping out of your System, head toward Calle de Fuencarral, one of the three streets that merge into Puerta del Sol. As you might have noticed, I mention this Puerta del Sol a lot …it’s just such a great point of reference in Madrid! As you walk up several blocks and pass all the touristy restaurants, you’ll find a beautiful quiet neighborhood around the Courthouse and some outstanding restaurant for you foodies ;-D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerta_del_Sol
If you are into Architecture, you can’t miss Plaza Mayor , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_Mayor,_Madrid and the Biblioteca de Hermanas Pias in the Lavapies neighborhood… Fantastic Buildings!
We have seen so many incredible sights, things and had breathtaking moments in Madrid which could never be compressed in a short Blog …But I can tell you this much: Madrid with it’s charming little streets, flamenco music, Amazing Museums , Tapa bars and restaurants and some of the friendliest people I’ve met through my travels is – I can tell you this much- my favorite city yet!
I hope you Love it as much as I do! Please email me if you have any questions!
Palacio de Cristal, at Parque del Retiro
Museo Reina Sofia
Hermanas Pias Library