Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Madrid - live a different rhythm

One of my best friends studies in Madrid which was the perfect opportunity for me to jump on a plane to actually travel to the "real" Spain for the first time. No hotel resorts, no islands, no tennis courts - just a city with elegant and proud people that I admire for their resistance against the heat. 40°C during five days killed me which is why we spontaneously squeezed in a two day escape to the beach village of Oliva at the Mediterranean Sea.

  • I stayed at my friend's place in the Chueca district that turned out to be a really hip district with lovely little bars that were to be discovered during the night. It used to be a criminal part of the city, but is now known for its high density of homosexuals. I had a look on airbnb and fell in love with this apartment (or this... or this...or... well there are too many!) for example. If you are as stupid as I am to choose August for your visit, then I highly recommend a place with a pool. 
  • In Oliva we stayed at Ana's place. We were four girls and had an amazing time in this apartment. Although you need a car to reach the beach (5 minutes drive), I would go back to the apartment instantly since it is perfectly furnished and Ana even prepared breakfast for us. Thumbs up! 

  • As a sucker for all sweet things, I couldn't go to Spain without having some traditional churros. And well, even if it's a very touristic spot, San Ginés totally convinced me. Their churros are slightly thin and come with a dark hot chocolate to dip into. 
  • The restaurant chain 100 Montaditos can be found throughout the city and is famous for its special offers. We went there on Monday when you get the second Montadito (a sort of little sandwich) for only 0.50 € and on Wednesday their whole menu is at 1 € - even the refreshing beer!
  • Another very touristic spot is the Mercado San Miguel which is totally worth a visit. Try typical Spanish Jamón (ham), a local beer or a frozen yogurt - which is THE dessert in Madrid this summer. 
  • Speaking of frozen yogurt, I found another concept that intrigued me a lot: Happiness Station Frigo at the Gran Via. Besides standard ice cream, they offer properly designed ice cream. I talked with the brand manager for nearly an hour and love their concept which is actually cheaper than all the frozen yogurt places around. 
  • Less touristic and more exclusive than the San Miguel Market is certainly the Mercado San Anton. Once again, I loved strolling through the stalls and climbing the stairs until I found myself on their rooftop terrace which has this relaxed atmosphere where I enjoyed sipping my cocktail. 

  • As a newer and hipper place, the area around Chueca is the spot for bar hopping. Don't forget that Spanish people only have dinner at 11 PM and don't go out before midnight. Oh yes, I certainly had my issues to adapt to this lifestyle... my metabolism as well. How can you have lunch at 5 PM?
  • Circulo de Bellas Artes is the roof top bar in the middle of Madrid where young professionals like to meet up after work while gazing at the large city of Madrid. Lounge music, white sofas and a restaurant part complement the terrace. 

  • Since Inditex is present throughout the entire city, it was a certain must for me to stroll through Bershka, Pull&Bear, Mango and Zara. The Zara on the Gran Via (as well as the H&M) are located in impressive chic buildings, but I actually prefer their shops in the Calle Fuencarral. 
  • If you need a present, I highly recommend the Ale-Hop shop. You will find so many fun elements that serve as great accessories for your next costume party. 

Escapes and Activities
  • As most locals, I went to the Retiro Park, where you cannot only find a lake (with rowing boats!) but also a crystal palace which is based on the English original that used to be in the Hyde Park. A little bit of English home makes me feel welcome wherever I am...
  • Madrid is pretty dead in August since all locals escape to nearby beaches. Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of lying in the sand for hours but the Mediterranean Sea was so clean in Oliva, that even I enjoyed my beach trip since I could stay in the water for ages.
  • As the sun sets in the West, the temple of Debod (an Egyptian temple) is THE location to capture the hypnotizing colours of the sky. 
  • Just take a look at the buildings' facades. I feel as if I was in an amusement park as they look so perfect with their powerful colours and tiny balconies.  
  • Until now, I always imagined catholic churches in Spain overloaded with decoration. Well, once I visited the Almudena cathedral in front of the King's palace, I was persuaded that there are different styles - the cathedral presents itself in a clean yet monumental way. 

Personal highlight
  • The sunset at the Circulo de Bellas Artes. The mesmerizing shades of yellow and orange that bathed the city into a golden glow are not only lovely photo motifs but represent this single moment of the day when Madrid starts to calm down a little. 

What are your must sees in Madrid?

See what I mean about facades?
Don Quijote
Plaza Major
Parque de Madrid: Retiro
I ask myself when a guy rows such a boat for me.
Town Hall with Cibeles Fountain
Did I talk about facades?
Yumm. San Ginés churros since 1894.
View from the Circulo de Bellas Artes at night on the Plaza de Cibeles. 

1 comment: