I have a friend named Teo, who is from Madrid, and whom I spent four years with in the Marine Corps. He has been trying to get me to go to Spain with him for the past 20 years! Alas, this most recent trip to Madrid it just so happened that he was going to be there on business as well and all of his dreams of one of his friends going to Madrid with him were fulfilled.
Madrid wasn’t one of my favorite places to visit, but it definitely wasn’t my least favorite. We met up with Teo in Barcelona, he works for Microsoft and travels for work a lot, and the initial plan was to take the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid, but it turned out to be cheaper to make the trip in the sky rather than on the rails and in true fashion Teo arrived at the Barcelona airport literally just in time to board the plane. Once arriving in Madrid, we took the metro to his dad’s hood and were promptly escorted around the city by him and his dad while we had a few hours to kill before checking in to our AirBnB. I’d like to add that this didn’t make the wifey incredibly happy because we ended up arriving about 15 minutes late to our check-in, and reportedly, she does not like being late to things. Fortunately the world didn’t explode because we were late and everyone’s lives went on as expected.
The overall feeling of Madrid was quite different than Barcelona. It became clear very early on in our visit that the international influence and diversity we experienced in Barcelona was not nearly as prevalent as it was in Madrid.
We basically did a lot more walking around and exploring the city while we were there. Probably the coolest excursion we went on was a metro ride to the Madrid City Center, kilometer 0. This is the very center of Madrid and full of street performers, shops, people and food. There is a fantastic bakery, La Mallorquina right at the center and who can say no to delicious coffee and pastries? The place was packed with a line out of the door, so it seemed like the right decision. Throughout the trip I can’t even count how many different chocolate and churro spots we went to. Some were better than others and Teo was definitely very particular about which ones were good and which ones were shit.
We made our way to another square where we found the original bull fighting bar of Madrid with countless pictures of the bulls and matadors that have fought in Madrid. My favorite part, although I’m not really down with the whole bullfighting way of life, was the heads of some of the most famous bulls were hanging on the walls.
The next stop was The Prado Museum, which is a must visit if you’re in Madrid. It was amazing seeing sculptures and paintings some that were created 500+ years ago. And HUGE!!! Some of the paintings were massive and very impressive.
The next stop, The Royal Palace of Madrid, was nothing short of impressive as far as size is concerned. Unfortunately we were there at night, so photo ops weren’t great, and it wasn’t open, so we couldn’t take a tour of the inside. The Palace has 3,418 rooms and 1,450,000 square feet of floor space to explore.
Last but certainly not least was the BINGO. It’s actually pretty funny to think that bingo is so big there, but it is. There are bingo halls everywhere and it is extremely popular. That being said, it had to be one of the stops on our tour guide’s list. The Spaniards are very serious about their bingo and you don’t dare talk to loudly while the announcer is calling out the numbers lest you get the evil eye from some random. The hardest part was the listening comprehension aspect of trying to fill a bingo card while only hearing Spanish numbers. Fortunately Kelli and I had Teo right next to us repeating the numbers in English.
All-in-all Madrid was a stop that was worth it. Is any trip to a foreign city not worth it?
There was also another climbing trip, but that’ll be a different post. And I almost forgot. The day Teo and I went climbing, Kelli went to the area of Madrid where the street art is amazing. Here are a few pics she got while touring the area.
Have you been to or are you planning a trip to Madrid? What were some of your favorite spots?