I finally traveled to Spain because for some wonderful reason tickets from NY were only $400 round trip. My first stop was Madrid which was culturally exciting, rich, and vibrant. There’s no shortage of tourist attractions from the Royal Palace to Plaza de Espana, and my taste buds were happy with the pleathora of resturant choices and food options. The nightlife was exciting and the only thing that suffered was my credit because of the many shops and clothing stores I couldn’t leaving without needing to call something mine.
Where I Stayed
At the end corner of Gran Via, Madrid’s “fifth avenue” restaurant and shopping district, there’s Dear Hotel Madrid. It was an affordable boutique hotel that had a fancy rooftop restaurant overlooking the Royal Palace and the city.
Dear Hotel Madrid had a unique boutique theme, great sized rooms, and comfortable beds, as almost all 4 or 5 star hotels do. The hotel has a picture perfect modern staircase and a wonderful assortment for breakfast, which wasn’t free but I think it’s because I choose the cheapest rooming option. Breakfast was around 20 euro, freshly cooked, and I enjoyed having breakfast every morning overlooking Madrid. They have a sky desk pool which is very cool, but looks bigger in photos. The staff was incredible friendly, kind, and accommodating. There was an issue with a room that I was in—I believe the toilet’s plumbing was damaged, leaving a foul smell in my original room. These things happen. The staff upgraded me to a bigger room with a balcony for the inconvenience right away.
Where I Roamed
The first thing I had to see the Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace). Only a ten minute walk from where I was staying, I walked past Plaza Espana, ran into the palace’s central garden, and walked past a pretty merry-go-round. Because of its huge size I ran into the palace before I knew it. The white marble palace is overwhelming, which any palace should be. Grandiose in size and luxury, the inside of the palace was unexpectedly jaw dropping. I didn’t expect the rooms to mirror those of versailles and I underestimated it. The Gasparini room was a room covered in gold from the ceiling to the floor. I wish they allowed me to take pictures, I tried sneaking a few in where I could, but everything was unimaginable–which is probably why they palace officials didn’t allow it. From the marble glass room to the pained frescos on the ceilings, I was left speechless and my eyes were in for a treat.
In front of the palace was the Almudena Cathedral that had Neo-Gothic architecture.
Plaza Mayor was a square plaza with decades old building and a statue of Phillip III in middle. The plaza was designed during his reign. I visited Spain before Christmas day so the plaza had a common christmas market for ornaments and festive goods. It was bustling with people and talent acts.
I went to the Sorolla Museum to a see temporary exhibition in the home of Joaquin Sorolla. At 23 years old he made his first visit to Paris, where was dazzled by the city’s artistic ambiance. The exhibition told the story of this triumph and life through his paintings that marked the milestones in his life. He painted many portraits of his family and the museum being that it is a house, still had his old furniture and textiles intact.
Plaza Cibeles offers a panoramic view of Madrid City Hall, which again has Neo-Gothic architecture. Retiro Park reminded me of a much european and classier version of the fountains and lakes that are in Central Park.
Where I shopped
As I mentioned, I shopped a lot. However, Ale Hop is one boutique store with really cool gizmos and random items that only in Spain. You can get everything from laptop covers, scarfs, notebooks, phone cases, and key chains.
Where I ate
San Miguel Market in Madrid had a lot of quick bites. Two of my favorite restaurants however were El Piemonte Verde, which is in front of San Miguel Market, and La Dona Taberna.
El Piemonte offered delicious full meals of yummy fried Flores de Alcacheofa (Artichoke), Lomo De Bacalao (Potatoes) and Arroz Cremoso Bolet (Rice). La Dona Taberna had a great assortment of tapas. VIPS on Gran Via is a fancy fast food restaurant—and I say fast because it was fast coming out, but had healthy choices. It reminded me of a smaller Applebees.
All Photos are taken by Meral Kathwari©