Whenever I have mentioned visiting Madrid to people, the common opinion is that it’s a bit boring. Compared to Barcelona or San Sebastian, it lacks the gritty and quirkiness for sure. But as the capital of Spain, Madrid has so much to do! And compared to other cities, it is just so clean and civilized.
Madrid is the home of amazing museums. I love visiting smaller and contemporary museums, thus Reina Sofia was the choice for me. The place didn’t disappoint. Seeing Picasso’s Guernica in person was like meeting your favorite celebrity in person. I was awed by it’s size and artistry. I had studied it in college and seen it many times over my adult life, but seeing it in person is totally different.
The architecture in Madrid is top notch. I almost got blinded by the selfie sticks, but once I got a decent look of the Arc de Triomphe and Plaza de Cibeles, I was awed by its grandiose architecture. I sat in front of the Arc de Triomphe at this charming café, eating pizza and drinking coca cola from the bottle, and watched 50 selfie sticks come and go.
My absolute favorite is the Retiro Park, though. Rested in the middle of the city, Retiro park relieves all the stress and pressure of the city. I hate comparing places, but it has the same purpose and feel as Central Park. I love the skate park area and the palace where peacocks roam free. But my absolute favorite inside of Retiro Park is the glass house. The glass house features different artists at different times, so be sure to check out the schedule prior to visiting.
I am always obsessed with the rooftop bars, so I Googled and found this place near my hotel called Gymage. It was bit overpriced and over-designed, but I still loved seeing the slick modern pool against the old historic buildings.
My favorite eating experience was at the Mercado near the Plaza Mayor . The place was packed with Iberian ham, croquettes, oysters, and fried seafood. I tried barnacle for the first time. It looks like eagle’s toe, but tastes like the entire sea in your mouth. Apparently it’s impossible to find. Each toe was basically 5 euro. The best part was that I became friends with this American girl who was there with her Spanish boyfriend. They were super friendly, offering me dishes they got. The Spanish boyfriend kept buying me wine and we became good enough friends to exchange numbers and promise to stay in touch. I love sharing bread with strangers who become friends.
Oh! The best gelato place in the world – RoCambolesc Gelateria. The store has a vintage feel and was inspired by the magical world of Willy Wonka. Suggested menu of each ice cream is an art.. Sculptural… but also delicious. All the ingredients are natural and unusual. I would be so fat if this was in my neighborhood.
There are so many beautiful nooks to discover in Madrid. It is definitiely not boring! Now I need to find a gelato to just put me to sleep.