Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lost In Madrid

Palacio de Comunicaciones
I spent this past weekend in Madrid, Spain.  Under the auspices of early birthday celebrations, a girlfriend and I got away from Albania for a few days and explored all that this fabulous city has to offer.  This was my first trip to Spain and it didn't disappoint. I quickly discovered that Spain is a foodie's paradise and following so close on the heels of our excursion to Paris, I found everything to seem incredibly inexpensive.  (But then again, it might simply be the comparison to what we spent in France).  Madrid is a city that thrives at night; wandering out of the hotel before 9.00 resulted in our having the streets to ourselves but fast forward twelve hours and every inch of sidewalk and cafe space was filled with people.  I had to quickly adapt to the idea of sitting down to dinner at the time I would normally be heading to bed but it was all a part of the experience and totally worth it.  Sure we spent a lot of time eating, drinking, and relaxing but we also crammed a lot of sight seeing into our short stay. Long leisurely lunches--which began at 14.00 and dinners--which began at 10.00 provided the perfect opportunities for people watching.  Because Madrid is a city that attracts visitors from all over the world, trying to guess the nationality of our fellow tourists quickly became a favorite game.  From the tapas and sangria to a flamenco show and magnificent architecture, I fell in love with every aspect of this country. 

When Glenn and I travel our usual mode of transportation is our own two feet with an occasional train hop on-hop off bus served as our primary mode of transportation. I had always seen the big red double decker buses in city after city but with the exception of riding the water taxi version of them in Stockholm, had never hopped on board.  I had always dismissed them as being purely for tourists but do you know what?  We were tourists!  And as I quickly found out you can cover a lot more territory on a bus than you can when you rely solely on your own two feet.  And, when you are not sequestered underground the way you are on the metro, you get a whole new perspective on a place.  While you are limited to the routes they choose (in Madrid's case there are two), a bus ride can give you a good view of what the city has to offer.  From our front seat, roof top perch we had an amazing view of the city's sites and after one complete bus circuit we knew where we wanted to get off and explore.
Templo De Debod
or metro ride thrown in. This time the city's

And explore we did. To get a bird's eye view of the city we rode the telferico across Casa de Campo, now an expansive park but the site of the former royal hunting grounds.  From our cable car we could take in both the city's skyline and the snow capped mountains in the distance.  We visited Puerto del Sol, the spot from where all road distances in Spain are measured and explored the grounds of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) to see how the other half lives.  (The monarchy is still alive and well in Spain).  Here we were amazed by the sheer opulence and beauty of the palace's interior.  (Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside of the palace so my picture taking was limited to exterior shots only).  And then there were the plazas.  One after another, each more impressive than the last, each broad plaza was rimmed by grand buildings and filled with fountains, sculptures, and artists portraying everything from Gothic figures and bronzed statues to Pompeii skeletons and abstract animals.  And the city became even more magnificant after dark. At night the neo-classical Palacio de Comunicaciones anchoring the Plaza de Cibeles illuminiated the streets and created the iconic sight that Madrid is famous for.  But as usual, my favorite part of the trip was simply wandering through the city streets.  Narrow cobblestone streets spiraled off of every square and we quickly found ourselves meandering down one narrow street and up another, each filled with shops, cafes, and interesting architecture.  It was easy to get disoriented but when we stepped into a new square we would use the skyline to reorient ourselves and move on. 

The entire weekend was relaxing and one I won't soon forget.  In addition to exploring a great city I loved having true "girl time".  We talked, laughed, and in what is a rarity for both of us, focused on ourselves rather than our numerous responsibilities at home.  Although a bit early, it was the perfect way to usher in a new decade.  Will I return?  Absolutely. I can't wait to share this city and her environs with my family because  I am sure they will love it just as much as I did.


  1. Stopping over from BlogHer. :-) I visited Madrid for the first time last summer and I loved it. The city never sleeps. I can't wait to explore your blog.

    Your newest follower,