People often talk about “love at first sight” but I’ve recently started believing in what I call “love at first landing”. This is definitely what happened to me here, in Madrid. Our landing was terrible but as soon as we hit the ground we fell in love. You’ll probably think that I’m exaggerating – well I am not.
Madrid airport is one of the most beautiful, well organised and approachable airports I’ve been to so far. Our trip to the hostel went smoothly, cheaply and in great comfort plus we were greeted by sun.
After a long and painful winter in Scotland it was a relief to feel it on my skin. The only downfall of our first day was searching for our hostel for an hour and a half, a task that should have taken us literally five minutes; it’s opposite to the Atocha train station at which we arrived. But, on the bright side, we had some laughs, met a few lovely people and seen a bit of the area. Everyone we stopped for help were more than happy to spend at least half an hour showing us the way and some even walked with us (one women learned using Google maps because of us and another student called her GRANDMOTHER in order to get us to the right place). Lying in bed tonight writing this I’m feeling excited for the days to come and what our trip has in store for us!
Day 2 of our trip
Sitting on a bench in the middle of the most beautiful park I’ve ever been to, listening to a lovely man playing his saxophone I feel a little invincible. For everyone walking around here it could be an ordinary Thursday but for some reason it seems like everyone is just chilling and enjoying the weather like us! And I just got taken for a Spanish person, life made.
As you probably already noticed this post will be written in a form of a five day diary. Every day I will write things down and post them just as they are. No adding to it at home, just living for the moment.
Me and Franko are taking things easy and chilling but we’ve seen quite a lot today already. Turns out our hostel is the best place ever. We are ten minutes away from everything and we have a train station and a metro right at our feet.
Today we are spending our early afternoon in the Parque de el Retiro which is one of the largest parks in Madrid. Until the 19th century when it became open to the public, this park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy. It’s a truly magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries which we visited, a peaceful lake and plays host to a variety of events making it one of Madrid’s premier attractions.
The park is entirely surrounded by the present-day city. There are many attractions organised here all year round. From May through early October every Sunday at midday Banda Sinfonica de Madrid there are free concerts and an annual book fair also takes place here. There are many exercising areas which can be used, both in and out of doors. Around the lake in the park many puppet shows perform, there are playgrounds and areas for picnics. There is something for everyone, even art lovers.
We’ve already seen two exhibitions located within the park, one in the Palacio de Cristal and another at the Palacio de Velazquez. I am LOVING life. This is probably my favourite capital city I’ve visited so far. I can totally imagine myself here and I catch myself daydreaming of moving here even just for a while, just to spend enough time to learn more about this place, people and learn the language. I know that life is life everywhere, everydayness awaits us wherever we go but I have the impression that the sun really helps here. Plus if you’re willing to try you can make your everydayness that little bit more exciting or avoid getting caught up in it.
People here are helpful and lovely (not to mention beautiful). You may speak English to them and look like a total tourist but they will still insist on answering you in Spanish which can result in many funny situations. I love being foreign to them.
Everyone looks intelligent and interesting, the kind of people who get written about in books. I’m a big fan of Spanish literature so it’s interesting to be experiencing those streets, smells and seeing these people with my very own eyes.
I’m feeling lucky to be sharing my first visit here with Frank. I’m already planning and thinking about coming back here with other people, if I could I would bring everyone here and stay.
On this trip my mind keeps floating back to my trip to Paris, I do agree that some may argue that Paris is a more beautiful city, but Madrid has more in it for me. It’s definitely a surprise and I never thought I would say this. However both cities made me reach for my camera almost non-stop.
We finished last night with a visit to the Centro de Art Reina Sofia which is a Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art and is mostly dedicated to Spanish art. From 7-9pm the entry is free so we had two hours to explore the three massive floors to be seen; we both loved it. I was extremely excited to see one of Man Ray’s ‘readymades’ (if you don’t know him, Google him immediately!)
When I was a child my Dad had all these photography and art albums that I loved flicking through (plus sometimes I didn’t have much choice – when my Dad says to do something you just have to get on with it, so I learned to love it instead of getting frustrated), so it was a treat to see one live, to be able to stare at it for a while.
What surprised me was that Frank fell in love with Salvador Dali and Picasso- the boy sure has taste! This museum also hosts a free-access library specializing in art, with a collection of over 100,000 books, over 3,500 sound recordings and almost 1,000 videos. It’s a stunning building which can be seen from the terrace on the third floor.
Today our feet are sore, so very sore. We’ve got to see so much in those two days that it’s a miracle we still want MORE. Today we decided it will be a good idea to explore another part of Madrid. We headed toward the centre of the city but kept changing the direction of our trip slightly as I would see something to photograph or Frank would want to visit yet another shop with football tops.
We visited Puerta del Sol, Teatro Real,Plazza de la Villa and Placio Real which we decided to explore from the inside as well and do not regret it one bit! It’s the only attraction we’ve paid for so far; it was beautiful and the view was breathtaking. Somehow (even though we were in the area, probably just few street away) we kept missing Plaza Mayor but that’s on our agenda for tomorrow. We also went to Museo Nacional del Prado where we’ve seen the work of artists such as Goya and Rembrandt. It features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. I was surprised to discover that the entry fee for us was free as I’m a student and Frank’s under 18. Thanks to that we bought audio books and could learn more about what we were seeing, definitely recommending it for someone who doesn’t know that much about paintings but is eager to learn more.
One of my good friends who used to live in Spain has told us to get lost in the streets o Gran Via and we did just so. Gran Vía (literally “Great Way”) is an ornate and upscale shopping street located in central
Madrid. It’s filled with cafes and charming shops; most of photographs I took today where taken there.
Now after our sushi lunch we are lying down on the grass in our favourite Retiro Park and listening to some street jazz. Could I ask for more? My book is lying next to me, waiting to finish writing this. I can’t wait to share this trip with you, I took so many photos that it will be a real struggle to pick the ones I will post.
Thankfully Wi-Fi in our hostel is great so every day we can share our news with our Mum and Dom.
I don’t know how many times they’ve heard I want to stay here. I feel fortunate as one of my friends has a family home here and we are already discussing coming for one or two weeks in summer to explore more of Spain! She knows Madrid and Spanish so it would be great to be here with her. Fingers crossed our plan works out.
It makes me sad to be writing that number 4. I don’t want to go back to reality! It feels good here in the sun. Since Paris I haven’t felt that urge to photograph, in Madrid this urge has become even bigger and stronger. I’ve been inseparable to my Nikon and I love it. I almost forgot how good it feels to switch off like that; searching like mad for something or someone interesting to capture. Best feeling ever.
We are taking our fourth day easy. We returned to Gran Via for a few hours to wander around again and buy some souvenirs. We had some food, bought a freshly squeezed juice and strawberries for the park. It’s around 22 degrees today, more in the sun and we decided to chill in “our” park. People here wear jackets and scarfs in this weather; me and Frank are melting.
We start each day with a walk in “our” Retiro Park- you must be tired of hearing about it by now, but just look at these photos!!! In reality it’s even more amazing. Beautiful smells, the sun on your face and music around every corner.
I think today will be a chilled and relaxed day. It’s fun to be spending so much time outdoors. We appreciate it more than ever. We know that when we get to Scotland it will be back to rainy and windy reality. I’ve got so much to do once I’m back but I can’t think about that just yet! We just got on the train towards our last destination in Madrid- the airport. Ahead of us is a couple of hours long journey. See you on the other side!
I wish I could add all photos from this trip, but it’s already full packed…hope you enjoy! More photos will be posted on Facebook!
P.s This was me the WHOLE trip.