Here’s the deal, we are finally back and I was really torn about how to do the posts on Madrid mainly because there’s a lot to say about this city and I had no idea if I should do a day bay day walkthrough our vacation, or do a few overall posts and a few fashion posts. In the end, D helped me decide, so today we are going to post the first overall view on Madrid.
What we both loved about Madrid is that, unlike any other big cities we’ve traveled to, it’s not filled with tourists. Mainly I think that’s because Spain has Barcelona and Valencia to offer. This makes Madrid one of the go-to destinations if you are anything like us and hate pushing your way through masses of tourists. In my personal opinion, a very tourist-popular destination takes all the originality of a place. The downside being that Madrid was the first place we ever went to, where we had serious language barrier with the locals. Good thing that we used to play mime-games when we were both little, as that was mainly our way of communicating with people. Seriously, you can hardly find someone in Madrid that speaks fluent English. We did however manage to learn a little Spanish while we were there so I guess that’s a win for us.
Now, a bit about the weather… When we chose Madrid, we mainly did it because in Bucharest, in May, the weather tends to be more on the chilly side and quite frankly this year, the day we left for Madrid, it was full-on late autumn, so when we decided our destination, back in February (I think!), we thought that the temps will hit 30 degrees in Madrid. That wasn’t the case, as it seems most of Europe is under an autumn-winter kinda weather. When we landed there, it was cloudy and chilly, but not as cold as Bucharest had been lately. However, by the time the afternoon came, the sky had cleared and all we got was sunshine and temps up to 29 degrees for the rest of our stay. We were very lucky in that department, as the day after our flight back, the weather was supposed to turn cold again. Fortunate for us, as we managed to do a lot of fashion shoots while there.
Back on point… Another reason for choosing Madrid was the fact that the last time we had a Spanish experience (Barcelona), we really enjoyed ourselves. Lisbon was our first choice as none of us had ever been to Portugal, but unfortunately there were no direct flights from Bucharest at the time we booked out trip. Not for one moment did we regret the lack of airline services, as Madrid was great!
We chose Silken Puerta America Hotel for our stay, and to be honest, I don’t think we’ve ever stayed in a more special hotel. I may be biased when I say that simply because of my architecture background and the fact that we stayed in the room designed by one of my favourite architects, the late Zaha Hadid. The hotel itself has every floor designed by a different architect and I told D that I, for sure want to come back here again as I’ve spotted the next levels I want to stay in. We had the option of choosing Zaha’s white or black room and we decided to go for the white simply because the light was better and I’ve always loved completely white rooms. Since we are talking about a five star hotel, the service was great if you go past the fact that at their cocktail bar the bartenders barely spoke any English, so drinking my evening tea was quite complicated (go figure – I still don’t know how to ask for tea in Spanish). All in all, if you follow me on Instagram, then you probably know by now that I love hotel rooms in general and this one was a real treat. I think it is very important to talk about the breakfast buffet, because we always search for reviews on that before we book anything. The breakfast assortment was quite good, but in my opinion, being a veggie-lover, they lacked in the fresh vegetables department. Other than that, all was decent, but not as rich as the buffet breakfast we had in London.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about Madrid. First of all, I’d like to point out that neither of us is into visiting museum and/or castles whenever we are in a new city. Basically, growing up, we each had our share of that whenever we used to visit with our parents as kids. We’re both more on the walk-till-you-drop side where discovering new cities is concerned, hence my Jawbone Up band was really happy with me during this vacation. The day we got to Madrid, let’s call it the ‘No Photos Day’ as we took absolutely no pics, we ignored the fact that we were both up at 3 a.m., we quickly unpacked (but there was not a lot of unpacking going on as Zaha Hadid designed the room with barely any space for clothes) and then we hit the streets. Basically we covered the entire central area that day, and my tracker registered almost 30000 steps, which is about 5-6 hours of wandering the streets. Needless to say that a) our feet were killing us when we finally reached our hotel again and b) we were really starting to love this city.
Let the day-countdown begin… The next day, which was actually the day we started taking pics, we visited most of Buen Retiro Park. This is probably their biggest and most central park and it has everything that’s considered park function in it. It’s beautifully landscaped and one could spend all day walking on the alleys and discovering something new with each step.
We exited the park at Fuente de Neptuno, near Prado Museum and none of us was really tempted to go inside it. This area in particular, being a museum area, is quite crowded with tourists so we decided to venture on the side streets, where Madrid surprised me again. There were a lot of small local shops, local brands, handmade stuff and basically all the things that make an economy strive. We later realised that most of the locals buy everything from these artisans, and to be honest, I bought a few things even though I left home with the mantra of not buying much during this vacation, in my head. I just couldn’t resist as most of the stuff they’re selling is top quality and beautifully hand crafted. These small streets are located between Calle de Cervantes and Plaza Mayor, where we ended our evening, but not before walking by foot to our hotel (because all those kcals from our dinner needed to be burned). Our said evening walk started on Calle Mayor, passing on Puerta del Sol, going down Calle de Preciados and Calle Fuencarral. I’m trying to redo all our walks so a) you’ll get and idea of the amount of physical exercise we got and b) these walks are wonderful and I’m trying to convince you to take those walks for yourself to see how beautiful he streets of Madrid are.
The following day we were set on visiting Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Those are our kind of museums that we enjoy visiting when on vacation. Since we both watch football, this one seems like the right fit. However, we rarely ever cheer for the same team (except for Barcelona), so you can imagine the war-zone our home becomes whenever there’s a World Cup Championship or an Euro Cup Championship on. This doesn’t stop us from visiting all the stadiums whenever we are on vacation. As per usual, we walked most of the way there, and as expected by now, we found some beautiful places near the stadium. The stadium itself was very impressive, as in my opinion, it’s the steepest stadium I’ve seen so far, and I’ve seen a fair amount. Because none of us is really a fan of Real Madrid, we didn’t get the goosebumps we got when visiting Camp Nou.
In the area we stumbled upon the Google Campus and we decided to snap a few (hundreds) pics, but you’ll see them in one of our upcoming fashion posts that we are preparing. We then walked towards Jardins de Sabatini and then to Palacio Real, which was a wonderful and relaxing walk until we managed to bump into some tourist groups therefore deciding to change course towards Plaza de Oriente. On our way there, we found Mercado de San Miguel. This is a marketplace where you can buy groceries as well as enjoy a glass of sangia, beer or a cone of seafood, like D did to my disapproval, as he ate some sort of squids and other likewise disgusting sea creatures and prevented me from coming close to him for about half an hour because, in my opinion, he reeked. I also got a small bite, some sort of lemon almonds and thyme almonds and managed to ruin the integrity of my beloved pants, hence from that point onwards, all the pics I let D take of me were from the back. When our feet decided to stop cooperating with us on the grounds that we tortured them enough, we started our journey towards the hotel. But not before we stopped for dinner. Naturally we did that every single day, but the places we found in Madrid served such amazing food that they deserve a different post.
This sums it up for the first part of our ‘Madrid Overall’ post, there will be a second part, mainly because I managed to pick 100 pics from our 2000 total and uploading 100 pics at a time would really make you miss some details about our trip. Also the text would double, and quite frankly, I would hardly have the patience to read this one, much less double the quantity. This post is mainly divided by the two hairstyles I sported throughout this vacation.