Two Days in Madrid


Kilometer 0.  The very heart of Madrid and by default the heart of Spain.

Kilometer 0. The very heart of Madrid and by default the heart of Spain.

I am happy to be back inSpain. It’s a country with a vibrant and colorful culture, a long and interesting history, and the weather is perfectly Mediterranean. I can’t remember if this is my third or fourth time here, but it is my first time to the bustling capital of Madrid. Even though it is a large and bustling European capital it’s central historic center can be easily navigated, and rather thoroughly visited, by foot and in a couple of days.

Like most of Europe, old things aren't replaced here.  They're repaired.

Like most of Europe, old things aren’t replaced here. They’re repaired.

 

The most difficult thing to adjust to in Spain is the schedule. Everything happens later here, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Starbucks doesn’t open until 8am. Want lunch around noon? I hope you’re ready for a coffee and a pastry because breakfast is in full swing. Don’t even think of dinner before 9pm. Want a night on the town? Plan ahead. Many night-life venues don’t even open until 11pm or midnight and then go until the wee hours of the morning with many not closing until shops are opening. The Spaniards have a word for this special time of day: la madrugada. Probably something I’ll never experience.

Much of central Madrid is pedestrianized and traffic free.

Much of central Madrid is pedestrianized and traffic free.

 

But I did manage to be out one evening past 10:00pm when it seems the entire city—young and old—were out for a stroll. It truly is magical. Sidewalk cafes are bustling, dishes are clanging in restaurants everywhere, the weather is a silky breeze, and it just feels like everyone is just trying to live the good life for a few hours.

It's impossible to go hungry here.

It’s impossible to go hungry here.

 

I can’t say that I was particularly taken by any one spectacular sight in the city. It was more enjoying a sense of place for me. The Royal Palace is truly remarkable and I loved walking through its opulent halls and recalling all the historic fiction novels that I’ve read that took place there. Parque Retiro is a welcome respite among the urban chaos. And art lovers would probably not skip the Prado Museum, but since I’m averse to long lines and museums, I skipped it. It looked pretty from the outside though.

Morning light in a deserted and small plaza.

Morning light in a deserted and small plaza.

Locals leaving a church that was built in 1607.

Locals leaving a church that was built in 1607.

Plaza Chueca and it's surrounding neighborhood was my favorite.

Plaza Chueca and it’s surrounding neighborhood was my favorite.

Plaza Chueca

Plaza Chueca

Traffic-free streets.  I love 'em!

Traffic-free streets. I love ’em!

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3 thoughts on “Two Days in Madrid

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