Madrid is a pretty lively city, feels like a big business kind of place but it has a lot of energy to it, especially later on in the evening where most other cities would be winding down. The eating schedule of Spain took a bit of time to get used to (lunch at 2/3pm and dinner around 9/10pm), but eventually I found myself adjusting and wasn’t really hungry until around those times. It does help that it doesn’t get dark until at least 8:30 so it still feels life it’s the afternoon until later in the evening. I could definitely get used to the siestas though, having a nap in the middle of a work day? Sign me up!
After meeting up with Melanie on the first morning we walked down to the area around the Royal Palace. We stopped in at the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande and the
Catedral de la Almudena which both had Sunday mass services going on. The insides of both of these places was impressive, huge arches and stained glass windows all over the place. After that we headed up and went through the Royal Palace of Madrid, the amazingly decorated official home of the Spanish Royal Family. You can’t take photos inside so here is a Google Image search link to the interior of the palace: link . Each room is different from the last one, while some have entire walls filled with porcelain sculptures, others are lined with velvet or ornate mirrors. Almost every room has a huge piece of artwork covering most of the ceiling, I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken to paint some of them.
Just up from the Palace there is a park which has a reconstructed Egyptian temple in it. The Temple De Debod was originally built in 200 BC in southern Egypt, in around 1960 it was being threatened by the construction of a dam and it was donated to Spain in 1968. They relocated it to the Parque del Oeste where it has been open to the public ever since. It’s only a small little area inside, but it’s free so worth going in to have a look around. There are a few ancient Egyptian pillars and hieroglyphics throughout it.
Pretty much one of my most anticipated moments of this trip so far was a trip to the Santiago Bernabeau, home stadium of my favorite football team Real Madrid. I took the self guided stadium tour and absolutely loved it, really really cool to walk through the places that so many of the world’s best players have been. The tour starts out right at the top of the stadium, 50 meters above the pitch, it took my breath away looking over the entire stadium from that high (and it was only partly because of my fear of heights). The tour works it’s way back down through the stadium as you visit the impressive trophy room, the vip seating area and the state of the art changing rooms. Then near the end you get to walk down the tunnel and up onto the pitch side. Standing down at pitch level you can feel just how massive the stadium is, a really great experience for any football fan.
By far and away one of the best nights of my life, watching Real Madrid overturn a 2-0 deficit with a 3-0 victory in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final. I’m still trying to process the fact that I actually got to witness one of the games that Ronaldo will be remembered for, a truly unforgettable experience. Being part of 86,000 fans cheering and singing throughout the match sent chills running down my spine. The noise that the crowd can make when they are whistling the opposition or celebrating a goal is tremendous, you can’t even hear the person right next to you.
We’ve been surviving on tapas in Madrid, after trying several places we eventually found the Spanish version of a fast food chain. 100 Montaditos offers a variety of platters and tapas for extremely low prices. So we went back for several different meals during our time here. Then of course we had to have churros con chocolate, which we had at Chocolataria San Gines. You get a big mug of melted chocolate to dip the crispy churros into, delicious!
Few other pictures below from our time in Madrid, visiting the Palacio del Cibiles and Retiro Park. The weather was pretty bad for most of our time here unfortunately, but we still had a good time.