Mesmerised in Madrid
Walking down the elegant boulevards of Spain's capital, I realised this was my third consecutive time in the country. I went to Barcelona in September and Mallorca last summer - perhaps I had been making up for a childhood lacking in Spanish resort holidays that seems to be the normal for many Brits. It's not that my family doesn't like Spain, I think it's more that we've always enjoyed visiting 'alternative places', which is fair enough. However, with a list of European capitals I need to tick off, it was high time I discovered what Madrid had to offer. Want to travel more? Make international friends. My mate Izzy is currently on her year abroad in Madrid, so it was the perfect excuse to go and see her. Although myself and my friend Beth were only there for two full days, we tried to squeeze in as much as possible. Izzy has a balcony view of the Royal Palace, a pretty huge flat which she shares with a couple of other people and a cleaner that comes in, all for 500 euros a month (bills included.) If that isn't a sweet deal, I don't know what is. Considering the royal residency was right around the corner, that was the first place we went to have a look at. With lush gardens and beautiful fountains, the Palace is definitely worth a visit.
Around the Palace area is also the Teatro Real, an international acclaimed opera house which showcases state-of-the-art productions.
We spent a while getting lost around these old streets, soaking in the sun and absorbing all the vividness that Madrid offers - it was bustling at all times of the day and I become increasingly jealous at Izzy being able to study for so long in such a trendy and bubbly district.
Just before sunset, Beth and I ran up a hill (which was highly unpleasant and I realised how unfit I was) but the views were completely worth it. The Temple of Debod was donated to Spain in 1968 as gratitude for them helping to save the temples of Abu Simel in Egypt. They reside on this hill which gives you absolutely amazing views of Madrid. The area was super lively; there were people chilling on the grass with food and wine and kids running around, playing on swings and slides. We even spotted a group of oldies practising yoga.
The next day was spent doing more sightseeing, sampling tapas at San Miguel market and getting ready for a long night of partying a Madrid's famous nightclub, Teatro Kapital.
The highlight of the trip may have been drinking wine and cocktails and watching the sun go down at the Círculo de Bellas Artes rooftop bar. A glass of wine is only about 4 euros; the view at the top is priceless.
Despite all the running around, I definitely wish I had at least 5 more days to spend in Madrid, not least because there were blue skies, it was sunny and at least 10 degrees warmer than it is in England! There is just so much to see in this sunny city...and I hope to one day return to contnue with the exploration...