Going to Madrid

Story by: Justin, USA
Published: May 19th 2017

Puerta de Alcalá

Madrid is the perfect place to blend into the Spaniard culture. During our trip, we got to visit some of the most attractive destinations of the whole country here. This city had a large variety of attractions that suit just about any preference. It also promotes cycling and counts with the exclusive structures and lanes for bicycle tourism.

We visited beautiful museums that are not only rich in history, but also in their architectural design. The Museo Del Prado is the most outstanding of them all, and unquestionably the biggest individual collection of Spanish art. This museum currently houses over 8200 drawings, 7600 paintings, 4800 prints, 1000 sculptures, along with a huge number of historical documents. The greatest collection is arguably Francisco de Goya.

The museum is huge, one of us went to the bathroom, and we thought we'd never see him again. The inside is astonishing; it makes you want to stay until you've seen every piece of art in it. The variety of art is beautiful, and we also got to learn a bit about the artists.



Whenever we needed a rest from extensive sightseeing, the spectacular parks along the city were our ideal location. The Parque El Buen Retiro transports you back to the 18th-century palace gardens. Locals love to rest here, and it only took us one visit to understand why. The arrangement and biodiversity were unique. Be advised though, sitting under the tree shade on a windy day is a 100% you'll-fall-asleep guarantee.

After an unintentional nap, we visited this one admirable structure; the Crystal Palace, which was just mesmerizing. It's made entirely of glass, except by the iron frame and the ceramic decoration. We also rented a boat to paddle around the lake in the Monument to Alfonso VII.

Right outside the park is the Puerta de Alcalá. It's the first modern post-roman triumphal arch built in Europe. It has cannon fragment marks visible to this day.

Definitely our most shameful part of the trip. I'd say the most accurate description of our eating experience in Madrid would be “Sorry, not sorry.”

Paella

Bars have some policy where you get an appetizer with each beer; locals call it tapas. They go from olives and nuts to deep-fried goodies. The Museum of Ham is a must visit, nearly every type of Jamón Serrano you can (and can't imagine) is there.

Our preferred dish was undoubtedly the Paella. It's a rice dish from Valencia packed with seafood. According to some locals, the seafood Paella is the traditional one, even though some other locals differ. We got some golden advice from one of the locals: “Whatever you do, don't mention another Paella you heard was the authentic one.”

Back to the food. It was a solid 10/10 presentation. Every fish in its shell, perfect color, and a smell that makes anyone reconsider their diet. It had mussels, lobster, shrimp, cuttlefish, and shrimp tails. What else could we ask for after a day of sightseeing with an empty belly?

Well, maybe we had breakfast before leaving the hotel…. and a little snack at the Museum of Ham… or two. But that's not the point.

We stayed in the Hotel Atlántico. Can't say it was something to regret, the location was perfectly centric. It's located on the Gran Via, which made transport much easier. The hotel staff was very friendly. They gave us some valuable recommendations on touristic places to avoid the typical touristic route. They're also the ones who told us never to tell a Valencian their Paella is not authentic.

The Neo-Classical design in the lobby and room looked amazing. The outside was pretty admirable as well, similar to the Ritz Hotel. That French-ish architecture from the 17th century was gorgeous. It's impossible for someone to miss a building of that size.