I loved Madrid! So much more than I expected to. Madrid’s vibrancy is what makes her stand out from other European cities. Every corner you turn there’s a splash of colour, plentiful avenues lined with artsy cafés and tapas bars, and on every street a gaggle of excited young people hanging out. Life is lived on the streets.
The mass of vibrancy and colour is set to a backdrop of tall white buildings, like an artists studio, the white backdrop makes the action in the forefront stand out.
If Paris makes every effort to be a chic city who ensnares visitors with her stylish avenues and romanticism. Madrid purely enjoys life, doesn’t care what you think of her and takes her visitors along for the ride.
Lonely planet puts it like this:
“No city on earth is more alive than Madrid, a beguiling place whose sheer energy carries a simple message: this city really knows how to live.”
I say the buildings are a backdrop, but in reality the beautiful historic white buildings in themselves are a spectacle. The intricacy with which they have been designed, with fascinating cornicing well finished with ornate black wrought iron railings. I would live in Madrid if only to stay in one of the beautiful white and black apartments.
As it happens we stayed in an apartment that I found through AirBnB (how amazing is that site?!) just along from Plaza Lavapiés. The apartment itself was a genius use of space; it consisted of one bedroom and a living area with open plan kitchen as well as a bathroom. But as it is a traditional corrala building with high ceilings, a second wooden staging has been built below the ceiling to create a platform plenty large enough for a double bed. Staying in the residential area of Lavapiés rather than a hotel enabled us to have a more authentic experience. It was interesting to witness Madrid’s real every day life for a short time. On our way back through the building one night we meandered round ladies pulling in their washing at 11pm while gossiping in the hallway!
Lavapiés is one of Madrid’s barrios, a residential area close to the city centre. It’s very multi cultural, popular with students and immigrants, not so popular with tourists. But to sit at the street side cafés drinking local vino in the sunshine, enjoying the beauty of the pink blossom falling all around from trees overhead and being surrounded by a babble of excited chatter and a whole variety of cultures together on one place. I can’t think of a much better place to watch the world go by.
Madrid as a whole is very green city, considering that much of the surrounding area is mountains and red dirt – as well as many vineyards that hadn’t quite sprouted in mid April. Madrid has many trees rooted along her avenues and a plentiful supply of parks to wander through. The Buen Retiro park is perfect location to escape the passionate buzz of the city and enjoy some peace for a while before being drawn back to the energetic centre.
Some of my highlights of Madrid were: the experience of seeing Real Madrid play at the Bernabeu stadium, the view of the city’s rooftops from the terrace at the Circulio de Bellas Artes, roaming along the Gran Via and the slightly frenetic yet unmissable experience of the food market ‘Mercado San Miguel’. More on those in my next post!
“Madrid, a city with music in its soul and an unshakeable spring in its step”