Thursday, 14 March 2013

Ten things to do in Madrid

Madrid is a large beautiful city that is easily accessible on either foot or by the Metro. Whether your Spanish is perfect or school boy you will find it easy to navigate the Spanish capital and take in all the sights, sounds and the wonderful tapas.

Here is my suggestion for things you must do and see while there.

Walk the city

Do a walking tour on your own. Forget the guidebooks just wander the streets and head in a general direction. Start in Gran Via and head down the hill towards the Plaze De Espana. Tthere you will find a small market and the large statue of Don Quixote.
Take in the Edificio Espana and then wander over to the park Del Oueste to see the ancient Tamplo De Debod.
The temple was moved here and given to Spain in 1968 after the flooding of the Aswan dam and creation of late Nasser.
Walk towards the royal Palace and once past them turn right into Calle Mayor. Here you can walk up and enjoy the foods at the Mercado De San Miguel and then take in the splendour of the Plaza Mayor.
Finally you arrive at Sol the geographic centre of Spain and the statue of the bear of Madrid.
If you turn right there you are back on Gran Via.

Tapas and beers

Many of the tabernas and little bars found down alleyways will offer a small drink with tapas called a ‘Canas’. These are small beers that are the perfect size to not get warm in the stifling heat of summer.
The tapas is divine and I would highly recommend the sea food.

Las Ventas

Whether you are for or against bull fighting the bull ring itself at Las Ventas is an impressive sight. Built in 1931 and is regarded as the home of Spanish bull fighting. A beautiful red brick building with an array of wonderful bronze bull fighting related statues in the surrounding area. The bull ring totally dominates the rea. Unfotunately it was not open fto the public when I visited ut wandering around it is a great experience.

View of Las Ventas Bull ring

Cibeles Palace

This translates as the palace of communication and is situated on a large roundabout with a fountain in front of it.
If you are ever in the city when Real Madrid win an important game come here to see the fans celebrate. They gather here and place scarves on the fountain and generally party like mad. A sight to behold and a tradition within Madrid.

Plaza Mayor

The gigantic Habsburg era built plaza Mayor is a giant square in central Madrid. It is home to an array of shops and restaurants as well as the annoying street artists. Many of which are quite loud and tiresome.
Best seen at both night and during the day. At night it is well lit and imposing while during the day it can get quite crowded and full. Escape don alleyways and see old shops selling hats and scarves and the stalls selling medals and old keys.
Plaza Mayor in the center of Madrid

The bear of Madrid, Puerta Del Sol

Mercado De San Miguel

If food bloats your boat or you like a nice glass of rioja then head here on the Calle Mayor. A brilliant iron framed indoor market with stalls galore. Fresh fish, fruit, pastries and meats.
Built in 1913 it is the only one of its kind in Madrid and can get quite crowded on the weekends. If you do go make sure you sip a glass of wine and try a cheese assortment while perched on one of the central tables watching the world go by.
Mercado de San Mmiguel

Gran Via shopping

Exploring Gran Via the Oxford street of Madrid is quite an experience. All the big brand are there and also hidden amongst them are little boutique shops where you can get absolute bargains. Clothing brands that looks English but are really Spanish pop up all over the street and they offer a top quality range of clothing and choice. Also check out the ice cream shops and the cafes.
You must also take a look at the fabulous Alacala building with its Metropolis sign.

Travel on the Metro         
Goya makes a change from the usual Madrid architecture

If you do not fancy walking travel on the metro and hop on and off around the city.  Head to places such as Goya to see the modern art or even head off to see the Santiago Benrabeau. You can buy a 10 trip card. However if you buy this from the airport you will need to pay a ‘supplementary chare’ and another such charge to get off at the airport.

Drink in La Latina area

This is the Bohemian area and art area of Madrid. Renown for bars and nightlife. The Spanish generally go out at 12 and the night life lasts longer. Expect to see people eating very late and tapas will usually be served till 12.

People watch
A great pastime ad something that can be quite fun and silly at the same time. People spotting is a great pastime and it can even be a game. For example who can spot the moustaches first and laughing at people in shellsuits. Madrid is a great place to do this as it attracts people from all walks of life.

People watching. Madrid is fantastic for spotting moustaches

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