Madrid: A Gloomy but Pretty Visit to Spain’s Capital

A couple of weeks ago I boarded a 7 hour overnight bus with two architect buddies to the gorgeous capital of Spain. After interrupted sleep and awkward bus temperatures, we arrived on a narrow street in the middle of the city, in front of a boarded up (definitely under construction) hostel at about 6 am. With only the name of the hostel’s alternate location, we roamed around for a couple of minutes until we came across a group of people coming back from a bar. One of them drunkenly gave us directions, and miraculously we arrived at the new hostel just around the corner! After napping for a considerable amount of time (nothing important in Spain ever begins before 10 am), we set out to explore the city. Taking a tour of “Hapsburg Madrid” thanks to TripAdvisor’s handy Madrid app, we ran into some beautiful squares and churches. We ended our self-guided tour at the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) which offers entrance to students for 5 euros. While we weren’t allowed to take photos, the palace was one of the highlights of this trip. Room after gorgeous room, we stepped through a life of lavish royalty that must have been a dream to actually own. Once we finished seeing the palace, we headed back to our hostel to go on a tapas tour. Wandering around the city and stepping into cozy restaurant bars along the way with a guide who knew just what to order was so much fun! I would highly recommend staying in a well rated hostel while in Madrid, because there is so much day-time stuff to do that it’s nice to have a hostel that provides food and bar crawls for the night-time. After the first night, we got some great recommendations and went exploring on our own. We stayed at “Cat’s Hostel” which, in regards to the name, did not contain any cats. Through the food sampling, beer drinking, nightclub going (Teatro Kapital, a multiple story & multiple music genre nightclub l is a MUST when visiting Madrid), and park sitting, Madrid was everything I could ever hope for. The ambiance is relaxed, the people are kind, the culture is compelling, and the food is wonderful. If you’re looking for an old city with a cool vibe, Madrid is the place to be.
Here’s a sampling of some of my photos from the weekend:
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Leaving Plaza Mayor, a tiny staircase that leads to another road.
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Sampling some delectable seafood tapas at Mercado de San Miguel. Smoked salmon with a mustard dill sauce and Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician style Octopus) are a must-try when in Spain. While you can eat a whole meal at one shop in the market, sampling a tiny dish from different stands (usually 1-2 euros each) is much more fun!
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Gloomy but beautiful visit to the Royal Palace (Palacio Real)

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 Watching the sun set over the Parque del Buen Retiro while eating delicious ham sandwiches.
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Stunning church near the Prado Museum.

Still can’t get over this European adventure,

M

City of Colors

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Apparently, the way I post on this blog is the way I write in journals: sporadic and only when I’m settled enough to put some thoughts together. So I hereby announce that, upon publishing this post, I’m going to add “blog posting” along with my other midsummer resolutions. Midsummer resolutions are kind of like New Year’s resolutions but not as daunting because a. I just made them up , and b. summer is warm and comforting and full of ice cold drinks that make me chock-full of happiness. Other resolutions include eating less, taking advantage of the California sunshine before I head back to grey-skied Pittsburgh, and kicking butt at my internship.

Now, on to my real blog post. Last week I visited what I think is the coolest city I have ever seen. Sure, some people can argue that I lack reference levels when expressing my love for things, but San Francisco has a magical, quirky ambiance that I might (just might!) want to be a semi-permanent part of after I graduate.

The people are a mix of cool, fun, educated, and bat-sh** crazy, and the neighborhoods I visited were truly awesome. A couple of intern buddies and I stayed in a great hostel on Post Street that offered all kinds of entertainment as well as a day walking tour that was worth the muscle fatigue after trekking up San Fran’s iconic hills. The photo opportunities were numerous and the food was delicious, but the best part was meeting up with friends from school on different street corners. I’ll be back soon, SF!

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I pulled out my nerdy-looking zoom lens for this view of Alcatraz from Pier 39

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Shady balconies towering above Chinatown. According to an eccentric fellow named Jackie Chan who lives in an alley in Chi-town, this is where the word ‘hooker’ originated.

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I wish I was as cool as this hipster-chic lady. Behind her is some historic bar.

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No post about a new city is complete without a photo of mouth-watering food. These are pastries at an Italian cafe in North Beach.

Cheers,

M