The last stop on our 22-day Spain adventure was Madrid. The city was lively and full of amazing art, architecture and food. There’s so much to do there; it was impossible to fit it all into one trip.
On the first day, we walked through Plaza Mayor, which was once the heart of Old Madrid, and is still a cultural landmark today. There were many restaurants and shops that lined the plaza surrounding a beautiful fountain in the middle of the square. While this is a popular location for tourists, it never felt overly crowded. They also have lots of gelato options around here.
We also visited El Retiro Park and the Palacio de Cristal. It was really nice to walk around the park, and the trees offered some shade from the hot sun. The Palacio de Cristal was stunning, and I thought it was definitely worth going to. The whole building is made entirely from windows, and there are various sculptures inside. While you do have to pay to get in, it was only about $10.
The Museo Reina Sofia was another highlight of the trip. Personally, I enjoy art and visiting museums, so if you do too, I would recommend this one. It features works from primarily 20th century artists, including works by Salvador Dali, Picasso, David Wojnarowicz, Miriam Cahn and more. “Guernica,” a famous work by Pablo Picasso, is housed here, and it is a must see.
The last landmark we visited was the Royal Palace. The tour was quite extensive. The decorations inside were quite detailed and ornamental; the ceilings of many rooms had ornate paintings that I thought were really interesting. We were able to view the grand staircase, throne rooms, bedrooms and sitting rooms, dining room and crowns. The whole palace was quite impressive and overlooked a large square. It was also directly adjacent to the Cathedral de la Almudena. This inside of this Cathedral was very powerful due to the height of the ceilings and its historical significance.
If you are a big shopper, I’d recommend checking out the Gran Via Avenue. This reminded of New York City shopping in that there are lots of people, but you can also find any store you are looking for. At the time I went, there were lots of sales or “rebajas” going on, and even though I wasn’t sure why, it helped my budget.
Food-wise, the first place you should go is the Chocolateria San Ginés. It is the most famous chocolate shop in Madrid and is open 24/7. It has been serving chocolate since 1894. We ordered the classic churros with a warm bowl of melted chocolate, which is a decadent combination. I would also recommend going to the Market of San Miguel. Here, you will find more of the tapas, or small plates, style options for food, but it gives you the opportunity to try all the different options. It truly has everything suchasdinner, drinks, desserts and all types of cuisine.