72 Hours in Madrid

Today, I was given a list of “Madrid Must Sees” in order to direct the floundering Tufts-Skidmore students to the most important sights in Madrid.  I quickly glanced over the brightly colored list expecting to be bored with another company trying to sell me a Segway tour or hop-on-hop-off bus. As I scanned the cute cartoons that depicted each of the sights, I realized that I had already been to all but one of the suggested monuments! Even more, I realized that I had visited all of these suggested stops over the past weekend with my parents. According to this list, I had experienced almost all Madrid had to offer in approximately 72 hours.

Here’s what CityLife Madrid recommends (along my one sentence review):

  1. IMG_2078.jpgPuerta del Sol – This is supposed to be the center of Spain with a plaque marking the 0km point where all the roads originate, which is interesting, but makes the area full of tourists. 6/10
  2. Plaza Mayor – The large, central square in Madrid full of terrace cafés surrounded by elegant buildings. 9.5/10
  3. Palacio Real & Catedral de la Almudena – Mini-Versailles accompanied by an interesting, new cathedral full of modern mosaics and stained glass. 8.5/10
  4. Plaza de España – Small park at the end of Gran Vía with nice statues of Cervantes, Don Quixote, and Sancho. 6.5/10
  5. Templo de Debod – An Egyptian temple that was moved to Madrid in 1972. The inside was closed when we visited, but the surrounding park gives a nice view of the palace and surrounding area. 5/10
  6. Paseo del Prado – Three impressive collections of art. Of the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Thyssen was my favorite. 9/10
  7. Plaza de Cibeles – Another central plaza, but this one has an iconic fountain depicting Cybele (the Phrygian goddess) being pulled in a chariot by two lions and the City Hall of Madrid. 7.5/10
  8. Puerta de Alcalá & Parque del Retiro: A large triumphal arch, and the city’s most popular park. 9/10
  9. Madrid’s Many Markets – Whether you want food, clothing, wine, or trinkets, you can visit “El Rastro” on Sundays, or find any other market hidden between the plazas during the week. 5/10
  10. Estadio Santiago Bernaben – The only place on the list I haven’t had a chance to visit yet! ??/10
  11. La Latina – This area happens to be my neighborhood: it’s a bustling area full of restaurants and tapas bars that’s centrally located and full of picturesque 19th century winding streets and beautiful architecture. 9/10
  12. Madrid Río – The river is small, but the linear park that runs alongside it is my favorite place to run. 9/10
  13. img_5992Gran Vía, Fuencarral, & Serrano – Madrid is full of both local boutiques tucked away on small streets and multinational stores like Zara (from Spain) and Primark. The larger ones are on these streets. 8/10
  14. Chocolatería San Ginés – I visited another local churrería, and can agree with everyone I know that churros con chocolate (fried dough dipped in pudding-like chocolate) are absolutely heavenly. 10/10

Does this mean I’m done with Madrid? Absolutely not. After two weeks here, I certainly don’t feel like a Madrileño yet (and don’t expect to for quite a while), but I do feel that I’ve become less of a tourist. I have begun to understand the history of the city, but I still don’t understand exactly why there’s an Egyptian temple here. I can use the Metro without assistance, but if I have to go too far outside my bubble of everyday travel I might get lost. I haven’t completely mastered the use of vosotros, but I can comfortably order lunch in a restaurant. These little things are baby steps toward getting comfortable here, so that someday, in weeks, or maybe in months, it will feel like home. Just like flying into the airport in Boston does. And just like driving across the Poplar Street Bridge in St. Louis.




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