Madrid, Spain

Tragedy. I seem to have deleted all the raw photos except for a few that I developed for Dj and I. And I have no idea where my SD card is. So here’s the few I have left in iPhoto, and the others I got off my Facebook.

Madrid was my favourite city in Spain. It’s very different from Barcelona and Valencia. It’s somewhere I could picture myself staying. The weather was beautiful, the skies so blue almost all the time.

Our first stop was to the hostel, then for a meal. We stayed really close to Mercado De San Miguel, where they sell cooked food, as well as fresh seafood. I, as usual, went crazy with admiring the pastries. They are simply too good in Europe!

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Mercado De San Miguel

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A must-try in Spain. Jamón ibérico.

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Plaza Mayor

To get to town and the main shopping area, we passed by Plaza Mayor, it seems, numerous times in a single day. It was a beautiful square. Amazing architecture, baskers, blue skies, surrounded by great cafés that serve great food.

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When at Plaza Mayor, stop by Museo Del Jamón. They serve simply delicious and unpretentious sandwiches such as these Bocadillo de Calamares (fried calamari rings in a baguette). No sauce needed. The calamari was fresh. Hmm… I can still taste it!

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Pueta del Sol

Another place to visit is Pueta del Sol (Spanish for “Gate of the Sun”), which is the heart of the city’s historic center. This is where you want to go for shopping. It is also a great meeting place. The Bear and the Madroño Tree (El Oso y El Madroño) is the symbol of Madrid. Walk around and spot as many of these symbols as you can. They are everywhere.

Without realising it, I took this picture with two landmarks in it. The clock and bells at the back are famous for the Twelve Grapes – a Spanish tradition that involves eating a grape with each bell at midnight of December 31 to ring in a prosperous new year.

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Parque del Retiro

Definitely visit Parque del Retiro. It is one of the biggest parks I’ve visited. Of course, we had good weather, so we enjoyed ourselves. Gorgeous colours all around. A great place to relax and retire (retire, retiro, heh). If I do recall, the park is close to Museo del Prado, which we enjoyed free-entry to. A nice museum, but don’t take my word for it – I’m no museum-enthusiast.

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San Jerónimo el Real

Just beside the Museo del Prado, is this church – the San Jerónimo el Real – a Roman Catholic church from the 16th century. I found it to be really stunning.

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Santa María la Real de La Almudena

From our hostel, we can actually see Santa María la Real de La Almudena. According to our tour guide, people actually find the cathedral ugly. Well… Can’t say I don’t agree. Just too drab to me. But it is huge, and I still worth a visit. The panoramic view is pretty good, and there are many great photographic opportunities.

The free walking tour we went for was under Sandemans. The tour lasts about 3 hours and takes you to many attractions. I highly recommend free walking tours. It’s cheap, it’s fun, you get to hear the new stories and views about the city, it allows you to decide for yourself where you’d like to visit/enter on your own time, and also, you get to meet people from different countries.

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Palacio Real de Madrid

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Flamenco performance

We signed up for the tapas and flamenco and pub crawl, and while I enjoyed the flamenco very much, I think the tapas dinner and pub crawl were just plain awkward. Flamenco is a form of Spanish folk music and dance which includes hand clapping, singing, dancing and guitar-playing. The guy’s voice gave me goosebumps. Amazing!

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Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

And here we are – Estadio Santiago Bernabéu! Yes, I do (or rather, did) watch soccer. And Real Madrid happens to be my favourite team. No spiteful comments, please. Watching Real Madrid play was one of the most memorable experiences of my whole #maddieonexchange journey. And, of course, they won.

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Fans from the “other side”.

Before I end my walk down memory lane, let me end with another food recommendation. Once again, churros! My never-ending search for churros brought me to Chocolatería San Ginés. They’ve served chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and churros) since 1894. This place is the place for fans of crunchy churros. Call me odd, but I preferred the one in Valencia, which was more fluffy on the inside. Still good, though! The hot chocolate is to die for.

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Chocolate con churros from Chocolatería San Ginés

I’ll be back in Madrid someday.

Till then.

Madrid, Spain

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