On Tuesday (November 4th), a few of my friends studying abroad in London came to visit Madrid for a couple days. When they started to mention all the things they wanted to do while they were here, I quickly realized that I haven’t experienced many of the “touristy” things to see in Madrid. However, this gave me the wonderful opportunity to become a tourist in my own city for the day and see parts of Madrid that I haven’t seen yet. Of course, I also shared with them a few city secrets and favorite locations while they visited as well.
They weren’t in town for very long, so we had to pack all the great things Madrid has to offer in a little less than two days.
First thing’s first, we went for churros at San Ginés which is a well-known chocletería located near the metro Sol. We met up with another friend of theirs that is studying in Madrid which made me realize how small of a world we really do live in.
After churros, we went to El Chapandaz which is a really cool cave-themed bar where beverages are only served by the liter (up to 6). The craziest feature is that the drink is poured from a stalactite from the ceiling! It’s a really unique place and although it’s a little on the pricier side, it’s great to visit on special occasions.
The next day, (aka “tourist day” for me) started off by going to the wonderful “La Bicicleta” for breakfast (my favorite café, as you know).
After breakfast we went to the Temple of Debod which is right around the corner from where I live (and it’s crazy that I had never been there!). The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple built in 200BC, but then rebuilt in Madrid 1970-1972. The temple was donated by the Egyptian state as a gift to Spain for helping save the temples of Abu Simbel when the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan posed a great threat to many monuments and archeological sites in Egypt.
A short walk from the Temple of Debod is the Royal Palace. We visited the palace when there was the changing of the guard (by happenstance). Although the crowd was large and at times it was hard to see, it was a cool thing to experience.
The Mercado de San Miguel is also another great spot in Madrid to try lots of authentic and delicious Spanish food. I could spend hours there trying all the different types of food they have. Of course, we had to have paella.
Then we were off to the famous Retiro Park. While walking, my friends commented on how cool it was to see the cute specialty shops everywhere since it was something that isn’t very common in London (or even the States). This is one of my favorite aspects of Spain.
Retiro Park was beautiful and as we walked through the large park we saw the main sights including the Crystal Palace and the Monument to Alfonso XII located on the Retiro pond.
This park belonged to the Spanish monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park. On nice days this park is wonderful for taking a walk and escaping the hustle-bustle of the city.
Before they left, we went to one of my favorite spots in Madrid (which also has one of the best views). It’s called The Terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes. This was my first time going during the day and the view did not disappoint. It’s located near the famous Banco de España and aside from the beautiful view of the Banco, there is a spectacular city view of Madrid goes on and on.
The week prior, I went with my mom and friend Alexa at night which gave us a view of the city lights. During the evenings, light acoustic music plays and it can transform into location for a romantic date. It’s common to see couples laying out on daybeds looking at the stars and city lights.
Although my friends weren’t in town for long, it was nice to be a tourist in my own city for the day. I had the opportunity to see new sights I’ve never seen before and experience old ones through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. I’m excited for more of my friends to come and visit me in Madrid because there’s nothing like exploring a city with good friends.