Despite being a capital city, Madrid goes at a much slower pace than the likes of its counterparts. Weaving my way through the crowded pavements, the locals do not walk, they seem to wander aimlessly, with no destination in mind, and no awareness that there are other people trying to get past. They kept reminding me that I could actually take my time.
I did not pack my days with itineraries, but I had an idea of the activities I wanted to do. I have collected some of the highlights of my trip!
Highlights of my week
For my first day, I booked a trip the the Hamman Al-Andalus baths to de-stress and have a good start to the trip. My favourite spa in Spain, I have been to the Madrid location before as well as the one in Granada and I highly recommend going. Make sure you pack a swimsuit!
Smack-bang in the middle of the country, Madrid is so well connected to other cities by public transport. I took a high-speed train to Córdoba in Andalucia; usually a 4-hour car journey, however after rolling out of Puerta de Atocha station, I was in the sunny south of the country in only 90 minutes! There are loads of other day-trip options, Córdoba is quite far! Most people go to cities like Salamanca, Toledo, Segóvia. However, I have been to these places before and Córdoba was at the top of my list.
El Palacio Real
During my first visit to Madrid, I had attempted to visit the Royal Palace, to only learn it was closed – it is often closed for important events. This time, better informed, I made sure I checked availability online and booked my tickets in advance. The palace is beautiful and fascinating if you are interested in Spanish history and the royal family. The armory collection is particularly impressive too. Don’t miss the temporary exhibition (this was an extra 1€ to my ticket). Not many people seem to choose this option as I was the only one in there when I went in, but I was glad I did; I learned all about Carlos III and the exhibit was brilliant!
Museo Reina Sofia
Free to students and there is a cat cafe next door. Definitely a good museum choice for people like me who still have a valid student card and are cat-mad. There are much fewer queues here than the famous Prado (which I still have not been to). It is a massive museum and has a range of temporary and permanent exhibitions. Most famous for the museum where you can see Picasso’s Guernica. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved the temporary exhibit about George Herriman and the Krazy Kat illustrations and from the permanent exhibit on war, I learned about the extreme poverty in Las Hurdes in the 20th century, through Luis Buñuel’s shocking documentary, Las Hurdes: Land without Bread (1933).
Researching online before my trip, I discovered that they were showing my favourite opera, Carmen (Georges Bizet) during the dates that I was there. Okay, I have seen this opera twice already, but third time is the charm, right? Plus, I had only just purchased some opera glasses in an antique store a few weeks prior and needed to test them out… I had a great time at the opera, and although it was the one thing I splurged on, it was absolutely worth it!
Templo de Debod
I had been here before, but I loved the sunset over this Egyptian Temple that I had to go back. It is a popular place to see the sunset as it is so beautiful, so don’t be late!
Madrid has so much to offer and I feel like I made the most of my time there. From the highlights mentioned above to the little things like: speaking Spanish with anyone and everyone, sitting outside a café munching on pan con tomate and sipping a warm Colacao for breakfast and walking everywhere – something I dont get to do much at home, made it a great autumn getaway.
What do you think of Madrid? Let me know in the comments!
p.s. apologies for the lack of photos, I had to factory reset my phone and lost most of my photos, including ones of all the cute cats 😦