City lights, charming narrow streets. The hustle and bustle of city life combined in such contrast with the slow pased culture of the typical Spaniard.
A broad contrast of cultures of which I can only explain as the perfect combination of the chaotic urgency, billboards and dazzling lights of new york, the charm and beauty of Rome and of course the endearing charisma of Spain itself.
Yet after exploring this wonder of a city for a short but sufficient 2 days, it soon became apparant that although the city centre seemed to have so many influences of other cities which added to its caracter, it also posessed a unique spanish charm all of its own.
On my first day i knew there were many sites I had desires to see for many years and ensured to make these my priority for the day. Yet with the close proximity to the city center of which I was staying, along with the trusty Google maps at my side, nothing seemed in too far reach.
Plaza Mayor was the first destination I coincidentally stumbled across on my quest to find other attractions on my list. Although, this was on my route to the city center and was an appreciated discovery. Restaurants and bars surrounded the outskirts of the courtyard like setting. The Plaza Mayor was built during Philip III’s reign in the 19th century, although despite its age, it still appeared in a perfect state.
After wondering through the square, I soon spotted my next destination of choice, The Royal Palace of Madrid. This consisted of two buildings each with its own beauty. Although the main palace guarded by large metal gates was a site well worth the walk. After taking several photographs outside the Palace walls, I discovered a hidden treasure only several steps down palace grounds. A small pond, water fountains and luscious trees surrounded this Royal garden and I took this as another perfect opportunity for some more photographs.
A short walk further into the city center, the atmosphere started to get busier as the calm tranquil surroundings of the Palace were becoming in a distance. I started to notice crowds making their way up steps at the footer of what appeared to be another parc. With my curiosity, i decided to follow the crowds to see what I may find. At the top of the steps was yet another peaceful sleepy parc with stunning views over the city. Although, my first thoughts when witnessing the views was appreciation for this, although these weren’t a patch on the views so readily available from various points in Barcelona.
As I ventured further into the city center, my next quest was to find Plaza de Cilbeles. The Plaza de Cibeles is and iconic landmark within central Madrid and once I has wished to see with my own eyes for a long time. Plaza de Cilbeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. It sits at the intersection of Calle de Alcalá (running from east to west), Paseo de Recoletos (to the North) and Paseo del Prado (to the south). Plaza de Cibeles was originally named Plaza de Madrid, but in 1900, the City Council named it Plaza de Castelar, which was eventually replaced by its current name.
Only a short walk uphill from this iconic lndmark I stumbled across another site not on my list. The Puerta de Alcalá. The beautiful arch like monument stood close to the Parc Retiro. It is a Neo-classical monument in the Plaza de la Independencia in Madrid, Spain. Although my curiosity to continue further into the Parc itself was encouraging me to explore further, the hour was becoming late and after spending the entire day exploring this cities beauty and sites, I decided to start making my way back to the cosy apartment I was being hosted at by an Italian woman names Vaileta. Although, on my way back to the apartment I cam across the most popular and well known food market of the city, as previously mentioned earlier in the day by Vaileta. Since it was on my route, I decided to stop off for a quick glance at the local stalls and produce of the market. Since I always tend to have a sweet craving late in the afternoon before dinner, I decide to sample the local churros with hot chocolate sauce. I took my warm churros and sat for some time with a coffe outside the market to reflect on the day before making my way back to the appartment for a much needed dinner and good nights sleep.
As the sun rose, the fresh cold mornings were enough to make me crave a warm coffe which is never hard to find in any region of Spain.
As I sipped my morning starbucks glancing out of the window, I watched the city start to come to life. The main square of Plaza Catalunya was decorated with chinese lanterns symbolizing the chinese new year.
The city was bustling with busy workers, tourists and locals.
As my curiosity had not left my thoughts overnight, I made my way to the Parc I had come close to seeing the previous day. After entering the parc and exploring the beauty, different plants, fountains and statues that filled the parc, I sat and relaxed with an ice cream in Parc Retiro just watching and listening to the crowds of people who had also chosen to spend their afternoon in the beauty of this Parc.
There were couples and families rowing boats in the lake in the cntre of the parc while children played in the surrounding gardens kicking their footballs and laughing with not a care in the world.
After spending several hours just watching the world go by, I decided to explore more of the city on foot.
Gran Via, the main road through the city centre. Tall traditional Spanish buildings towered over the small narrow streets of which divided them. Billboards advertising the latest theater shows lit up the streets as the sun started to set.
As the sun went down I stopped for a short break to relax my legs in Campo Del Moro. This small parc was at the footer of the Royal Palace. As I sat sipping my second Starbucks of the day next to a small trickling water fountain I noticed the orange skyline behind me. The city was on its way to sleep. Although as anyone living in Spain will already know, this was the time of day any Spanish city really comes to life.
After years of desires to see this city with my own eyes and finally having viewed its most iconic landmarks and sites, I will surely return hopefully in th summer to experience a different side of the city along with friends.
Something gives me the feeling there is more to be explored and experienced by this exciting, carasmatic city and this is another side I have plans to see ;).