Blue skies…

Here’s yet another bundle of pics from Madrid. I think this post here contains the largest number of photos we’ve ever posted, simply because choosing pics from this day was extremely hard.

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I’d like to point out the fact that I’ve really tried to do a no-jeans vacation for once, but I just could’t resist this pair I’ve found in Madrid from Pepe Jeans London. I mean, the colour is just perfect for those long summer days and short summer nights, and even though I have about 20 pairs of skinnies, I did not have this exact wash, so D had to comply and agree that I should have them.

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On me:

Blouse – ZARA; Jeans – Pepe Jeans London; Sweater – Terranova; Shoes – VANS; Bag – Michael Kors; Sunglasses – Ray-Ban; Bling – Swarovski, Pandora and Constantin Nautics; Watch – Daniel Wellington

Usually whenever I do some vacation shopping, I always wait until I get home to actually wear the stuff I buy, but this time, I just had to wear them the second day after I bought them.

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These photos were taken on our third (photo documented) day in Madrid, and the weather was plain and simple perfect. As stated in an earlier post, we’re not exactly evenly matched colour-wise, but we both chose something light blue to wear.

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On D:

Shirt – Massimo Dutti; Jeans – Scotch & Soda; Vest – Bershka; Shoes – Nike; Bag – from Barcelona; Bling – Fossil and Constantin Nautics; Watch – Daniel Wellington

I decided on a white blouse from ZARA, which you can’t really see in any of the pics (as i intended) because I wore my summer white sweater from Terranova (as for the blouse, I couldn’t find the exact same item online, so I’ve linked some alternatives), that I got ages ago, over it. Since it was Sunday, and I was on my third step of my CHANEL routine (Le Weekend) I couldn’t wear any make-up, hence the less bronzy look, and decided on wearing just a bit of mascara. I’ve chosen my trusted VANS because a) they’re white and b) we had a lot of exploring to do by foot.

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As per usual, I’m wearing my Michael Kors Hamilton Traveller bag. I think I’ve worn this bag a thousand times and I think I’ll wear it to death because it’s the perfect size to fit all sorts of necessities and small enough to not annoy me when I need both of my hands.

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D chose his Massimo Dutti shirt which matched the shade of my jeans, and, as opposed to me, he chose a darker look. One could say that aside for the blue items, we were like a chess board. He went for his darker Scotch & Soda (one of his favourite brands) jeans and his way-too-poufy (for this weather) vest from Bershka, that he mostly carried around in his bag.

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He, like me, chose his comfortable black Nikes and the one and only bag that he packed that he bought a few years ago from Barcelona from one of the many street fairs happening there all year round.

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Sunday was the day we visited the Templo de Debod and Parque del Oeste. You can find loads more info on the locations of our photoshoot in yesterday’s post. I hope you can see from the pics the amount of fun we had on Easter Sunday.

 

 

L.

Madrid Overall – Curly Part

The third (photo documented) day came and I decided to undo my braids and go for a curly fun look. I owe having the courage to heat-process my hair to the Olaplex system and the incredibly delicate BaByliss Curl Secret and there was no sign of damage to my hair whatsoever.

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Since the weather was very nice and warm, we decided on yet another park. This time our walking marathon started at Templo de Debod where we snapped lots of pics (for yet another fashion post to come). Since there’s lots of info online about all the places we’ve been to, there’s no point in me trying write it down here, I’ll just do my best with the direct links for all of them. After we’ve finished our part tourist, part fashion photoshoot at the temple, we realised that we were in one of those great, non-touristic green areas (aside from the temple) thanks to a viewpoint at one end of the temple. Since we had absolutely no time to prepare for this vacation, we took things as they came, and decided to continue our Madrid marathon in that area. First place we encountered was the Garden of La Rosaleda, where, as per usual, lots of photos were taken. We quickly realised that Madrid is a city where there’s always something happening as there was a triathlon undergoing in the area, the cycling part to be more specific. As I was concentrating on posing for D, I realised that my favourite photographer had left me to look as stupid as possible and ran off to catch the cyclists on camera.The Garden of Rosaleda is a vast rose-garden with hundreds of rose species on display, but, unfortunately for us, this was’t their blooming period. None the less, it was lovely spending some time there even without a strong rose fragrance. 

As we went further, we discovered the Parque del Oeste, which is a place nobody should miss while in Madrid. If I was under the impression that Retiro Park was the best park Madrid had to offer, well this one definitely changed my mind for good. This is a beautiful area, with lush vegetation and beautifully landscaped alleys. Since this was a Sunday, I was really surprised to see that we were alone most of the time spent there and that allowed us to really discover some beautiful hidden corners of the park. That again, was the thing that got us hooked on Madrid – the lack of tourists. One of the wonderful corners I was talking about was the fully bloomed lilac arch we found at some point along our walk. The fragrance we felt in the area was amazing and this was a place that was completely out of  the way of any main alley of the park, so this park really needs a full day for discovering. After we started feeling the repercussions of walking so much (translation: our feet were hurting like hell), we made our way towards the Moncloa metro station, to start our way towards the centre part as we did need to eat our dinner and we wanted to explore the streets some more after that.

We stopped at Puerta de Alcala and made our way towards the Calle de Cerrano, which is Madrid’s high-end shopping area. When D told me where we were ending our Ester day, I was beyond ecstatic and started making lists in my head with what statement pieces I needed for summer. Fortunately for our bank accounts, since it was a Sunday, all the shops were closed, to my disappointment. We continued our evening walk down Calle de Maria de Molina, a walk that I personally recommend as the boulevard is very peaceful and nice with wide pedestrian areas and lots of things to see on the way. We then finally and fortunately (for our feet) reached Avenida de America where our hotel was located.

On the next day, I had my mind set on visiting the Botanical Gardens, thinking that being a Monday it should be quite empty. We started walking through Buen Retiro Park again as D spotted the Crystal Palace the night before online, and since we were there anyway we thought why not make the most of our park adventures, plus it seemed like a lovely place to snap pics. The area around the palace was way more beautiful than any of the pics we’ve seen online or in any travel guide, so this one really deserves the trip. After about 100 photos snapped there we started for our destination, the Botanical Garden. Since the entrance is not clearly specified on the map we were using, we went down Cuesta de Moyano, and as usual a book fair was going on there, with lots and lots of old books, magazines and postal cards for sale.

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When we finally reached Plaza Murillo, where the entrance for the Botanical Garden was located, we realised there was no way whatsoever that we were going to see the garden as the queue was two-hours long, so we decided to explore the area surrounding it. We made our way towards Plaza Mayor by way of Calle de Huertas and then we continued our walking-marathon towards Puerta del Sol as we realised that we had not yet bought presents for our families and friends back home. We, however, changed direction at some point, on Calle de Augusto Figueroa because D spotted some lovely side streets and we can’t resist small streets. Lucky we id that, as we found Mercado de San Anton where we ate one of the best meals while in Madrid, but more details on that in the food post.

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Our last full day in Madrid was all about tennis. Being sports freaks, we enjoy watching tennis as well and we absolutely love going to live tennis events, as, just like with any other Open, the atmosphere is incredible. We were very fortunate to catch a very eventful third day, with matches played and won by Simona Halep, Rafael Nadal and Any Murray, but since we had quite an early flight the next day, we couldn’t stay and see Murray as well. None the less, our day was perfect with just two important matches, especially, as we know by now, Halep won the Open. If you’re ever in Madrid while Mutua Madrid Open is happening, make sure you won’t miss it, as everything from location to the people coming there is absolutely a must-see.

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Since we had a lot of packing to do, we started our way towards out lovely hotel, but we did stop at Paseo de Eduardo Dato, which is a location we saw on our first day, because I had my mind set on taking a few pictures there as well. Naturally, when we got back to our hotel, none of us could stand on our feet anymore and the whole packing experience was time-consuming and horrendous.

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Overall, Madrid is a wonderful city to visit and I personally think that it’s way underrated as a tourist destination because of Barcelona and Valencia. Trust me when I say that it’s a must see and this is coming from someone who’s seen Barcelona (twice) and Valencia (once). Though we thought we’d come back way fatter than we left, thanks to our walking marathons I think that after 2 weeks of serious gym and diet time, we’ll bounce back into our original shape. Until then, loose clothes and comfortable shoes for us! I really am very excited to do the food post because, to be honest, by comparison with Valencia and Barcelona, in Madrid we’ve found the best food options.

I honestly hope that you enjoyed our text/photo tour of Madrid and stay tuned as more posts on our vacation will come with lots more photos. And by the way, our next vacation is in Milan, so if anyone knows any good places to eat and see there, please leave a comment either here or on our Facebook page!

L.

 

Madrid Overall – Side Braid part

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.IMG_1199

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

L.