When looking for the cheapest option how to get home from Portugal I stumbled upon cheap flights via Madrid. I was not planning to stay there at first. Then I decided that it’s a perfect way how to visit Prado museum (I’m a huge fan of art). I wrote about my first day in Madrid already. Now it was time to explore the city with my couhsurfing host.
Our first stop was Plaza de España. It’s a huge and popular square with monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (spanish author). You can spot the two statues of his popular characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. I bet you have also spotted those two skyscrapers in the background, two of the highest buildings in Madrid, Torre de Madrid (Tower of Madrid) and Edificio España (Spain Building). Both buildings were built in the 1950s and there are hotels and apartments inside.
Close to Plaza de España is park Parque de la Montaña with an interesting Egyptian artifact. Templo de Debod (Temple of Debod) was originally built in the 2nd century BC and due to the construction of Aswan High Dam on the Nile was donated by the state of Egypt to Spain. It was rebuilt in the 1970s in Madrid. I was surprised to see such an unusual site in the center of Madrid as I hadn’t really studied what’s to see in Madrid (very unlike me) 😀 There is also a beautiful lookout in the park with the view over Madrid Cathedral and Royal Palace. The view was really nice despite my shitty quality photograph…
On the way to Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) we passed by some nice buildings and Plaza de Oriente with Teatro Real (Royal Theatre). We didn’t go inside the palace but continued towards one of the most famous squares Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun). There are several sights on this square: the old Post Office building which now serves as the offices to President of Madrid (whatever that title is), statue of king Charles III., the famous Tío Pepe (Uncle Pepe, brand of sherry) neon sign, Kilómetro cero from which the distances in Spain are measured and El Oso y el Madroño statue (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) which is depicted on the coat of arms of Madrid.
Then we headed to Plaza Mayor (Town Square). I’m pretty sure you’ve seen pictures of this important square before. Hmm, they have a lot of huge famous squares in Madrid 😀 Just next to it is the world’s oldest restaurant in continuous use Sobrino de Botín. Fun fact: painter Francisco Goya used to work there as a waiter before being accepted to Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Fun fact no2: This restaurant is also mentioned in one of Hemingway’s novels (The Sun Also Rises). Sad fact: I didn’t have a chance to go inside and try the local specialites 😦
From Plaza Mayor we went to Catedral de la Almudena which is opposite to Royal Palace. Now when thinking about it I don’t understand why we didn’t go there when we were close to Royal Palace. I was not in charge of the schedule so I can’t explain this mystery 😀 If you remember from my previous posts (how could you, it takes me ages to post new articles lol), I was feeling very sick two days before and I was still not fit in Madrid. The cathedral was such a welcome change of scenery for me. I’m sure it was around 40 degrees outside so a nice cold ancient church was a perfect place where to hide. I think Almudena Cathedral impressed me the most in Madrid that time. Obviously it can’t compare to Prado museum, which was the main reason I visited Madrid, nothing can top that.
Then we went to some bar to have sangria and they also gave us some snacks. I don’t really remember much after the Cathedral as I was really tired and not feeling very well, not because of sangria. I remember we passed through Plaza del Ángel which had some nice buildings. After that we were looking for some proper restaurant to have a late lunch/early dinner. We found someplace with decent food but the dessert ruined the whole experience for me, imagine my dissapointment and I’m not even a huge dessert lover.
After the food we went to see the highlight of my visit, the place I was looking forward to all day long, Museo del Prado (Prado museum). The entrance to the museum is free for everyone the last two hours before the closing time. We joined the queue, which was pretty long already, and waited around 30 minutes to get inside. The museum was fantastic! A real dream come true for me. Especially all the famous paintings from Diego Vélazquez and Francisco Goya which is one of my favourite painters. Fun fact: Prado has its own Mona Lisa. The Prado Mona Lisa, painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s pupils, could have been painted simultaneously in the same studio as the original one as some experts believe. To be honest I prefer this Prado version over the original Mona Lisa. Which one do you guys like the best?
Our last stop was El Retiro park. We took a walk around this enormous park and found a nice spot in the café near the lake to have some rest. My host ordered me a glass of horchata, a drink made from tiger nuts. All I knew about horchata was that it was a drink made from some sort of grains but I couldn’t imagine what the taste would be like. To my surprise it was so delicious. I still remember the taste…I was enjoying the moment , sitting in the shadow with a yummy drink in my hand and song Horchata by Vampire Weekend was playing in my head 🙂
I remember I wasn’t that impressed by Madrid back in 2016 when I visited it for the first time. I liked it more on my second visit. I guess it was mainly because of extremely hot weather and I was sick. Good advice for everyone: don’t go there in the middle of summer. Another good advice: when you’re ill don’t go gallivanting around town and stay in bed 😀 The next day I went home for half a day and then on to the next adventure, but that’s another story…