Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Madrid in 4 Days: Beautiful Art, Architecture, A Royal Palace and Various Barrios

 Madrid in four days was an artsy adventure of architectural and historical highlights, a combination of modern and old scenes, and a meander through different barrios (neighbourhoods). While Sean and I both felt that something was missing - perhaps because of the massive lack of Christmas spirit we expected - we did feel that Madrid was a clean, interesting city that would be easy to live in.  Feeling too old for hostels, we opted to stay at the Ibis (regular) hotel, which meant that we had to choose the affordable one of the three - about a 15 minute metro ride from the centre. It was a great way to see the whole city!

Christmas Dinner at Metro Bistro

We arrived in Madrid on Christmas Day, as this was the most economical option when we considered the train and hotel prices!  We booked one of the few recommended restaurants on Tripadvisor which still had availability. Metro-Bistro is a beautiful restaurant - although it had limited vegetarian options, I had a pumpkin crema (soup), roasted pita chips with hummous and a dessert with dulce de leche that was way too sweet.  Christmas spirit wise, Madrid is not much better than Barcelona - and I must say that the Christmas markets were tacky and boring - and we went to three plazas! 

National Geographic's Madrid Walking Tour was where we started the next morning - Boxing Day or Sant Estevan as they call it here- and it was a beautiful overview of the old town and historical highlights, including Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple in a large park.  We saw the architectural highlights as well, including the Royal Palace and Cathedral beside it - must-see sites!  In fact, the Royal Palace has a modern art museum inside it (check out the slideshow to see some awesome pics!)
Royal Palace, Madrid

Banker's district, Madrid

Perfumeries & Shopping

Who knew that Madrid was a perfumery haven with unbelievably great prices? It just so happened that I had run out of my Burberry Brit eau de parfum a couple days earlier - and I found it, on sale! Actually, it's lucky I did since they have apparently stopped producing that line. I also decided on Marc Jacobs Decadence after hours of roaming through the El Corte Ingles perfume department with Sean.  We also found an excellent winter coat for Sean - which he ended up buying at the Barcelona branch.
Sean musing over modern art

Malasaña - The Hipster Part of Town & Other Places to Eat

Malasaña and Chueco are two áreas that are definitely worth checking out.  We were in Chueco on the Saturday evening for some lovely, spicy (though pricey) Mexican food at Tepic. We also ate at the Chipotle-style Tex-Mex chain restaurant called Tierra Burrito the next day.  Madrid definitely has MUCH better Mexican food than Barcelona. We then visited the area Sunday during the day to see the sites. It’s best known for being gay-friendly and being an old neighbourhood that was revamped by a younger crowd. Pictures say more than words in this case - check out my slideshow below!

We spent Monday afternoon in Malasaña and then Buen Retiro Park before catching our evening train back to Barcelona. What a lovely area! It is the “hipster” area, I guess – it reminds me of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton or Kensington in Vancouver – loads of trendy cafes and places to shop. We window-shopped and had pizza on a terrace at a place right in the square - it was good, but then it started raining for we cafe-hopped for a bit.

Ojala! was our greatest find - a cute cafe with excellent specialty coffees and a neat atmosphere - it has sand in the basement to mimic a beach scene, a Beatles-inspired gender neutral bathroom and a very interesting teal and pink theme for its decor.

Cafe with Cocoa Tequila
Cafe with Baileys and Cream

Check out the slideshow below to see the best parts of our trip!  Again, it's about 50 pictures long, so adjust the speed settings in the top right hand corner if you like. If you're on a mobile device that does not support Flash, view my Flickr Set by clicking here,  - click on the first picture and then hit the play button for the show. 

Enjoy! Stay tuned for my New Year's adventures post with Kristin's visit, a night photoshoot and more to come! Happy Holidays, everyone!

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