Madrid is Spain's capital and one of its largest cities. It's also one of the cheaper countries in Western Europe. Reasonable prices, beautiful architecture, yummy food, lively nightlife make Madrid a sought after destination for one and all. As soon as you step foot in the city you can see it breathe around you! It is one of the most liveliest cities in the Western Europe. Madrid may lack the romance of Paris, and the history of Rome but it doesn't make it any less exciting. It is a city of passion and life, music and dance, good food and better wines. And it is an artistic city which can confidently claim the title of 'Culinary Capital' of Europe!Cheapest Month To Fly: October 2017 from AhmedabadMust Visit: Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid Royal Palace, Prado Museum and Plaza MayorMust Eat: Tapas, Tortilla Espanola, Gazpacho, Seafood Paella and SangriaMust Do: Dine at Botin, a famous restaurant that has been mentioned in numerous books and movies; Stroll along Grand Avenue, a beautiful stretch with stunning sights all around; Shop at El Rastro Flea Market; Dine at a Tapas Bar; Eat late night churros, available almost at every corner in Madrid.Approximate Cost for a day: Attractions – Rs. 750; Food – Rs. 1800; Inter-city travel via public transport – Rs. 250; Accommodation – Average cost for 1 night – Rs. 3500 on double occupancy.
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Royal Palace of Madrid
One final place that might be of interest to you ties into Spain’s royal history. Palacio Royal is Madrid’s royal palace is built upon an old fortress and is now mostly used for ceremonial occasions. You can check out the views on the patio area, but definitely take a tour of its lavish interior and exquisite rooms!
Mercado San Miguel
For 18 euros each, we enjoyed an hour-long show with a glass of sangria. At the restaurant, we ended up paying an additional 17 euros for tapas, the infamous small plates of food found throughout Spain. This restaurant does serve dinner at the rate of 55 euros through the hostel’s partnership. I absolutely loved the sangria. In regards to the tapas, they were okay. If Jackie and I had planned ahead, I would have preferred to eat at the bustling Mercado del San Miguel, a food hall that is located nearby.
Plaza Mayor is cobblestone-lined section is literally squared away, and its remote feeling is like stepping back into a different era. Buildings with beautiful balconies line this square and its different arches open out different streets. Yet, Plaza Mayor has an interesting history. Trials by the Spanish Inquisition took place here, but the location also has been a setting for bull fighting. Nowadays, there are cafes, restaurants and shops here.
Museo Nacional del Prado
First, the most recognized art museum in Madrid is Museo Nacional del Prado. In comparison in size to the Lourve Museum in Paris, the Prado contains a massive collection: around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of other works of art and historic documents. It’s one of the best collections of European art. Pieces date from the 12th to early 19th century, a number made by artists who were assigned to create works specifically for the Spanish royal crown. It can feel a bit daunting to try get through a lot of the Prado in one visit. I got there on a Monday afternoon, still recovering a bit from my early-morning flight, and, due to my jet lag, I decided to stick to about two floors. Or perhaps focus on a certain artist or join in a tour. Francisco de Goya has a high representation, as well as Diego Velázquez, Titian, and El Greco, among others. Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German and French masterpieces are also well featured. If all else fails, one painting I recommend seeing is Velázquez’s Las Meninas.
With dining, if you want to try a mix of everything, from tapas to seafood and even something sweeter, pay a visit to The Mercado de San Miguel. Located near Calle Mayor, this older building houses a nice mixture of delicatessens, restaurants and bars. For a few Euros, you can purchase different small plates and appetizers to try. During my visit, I dined on everything from stuffed olives to croquettes to fried calamari and even sampled a few pastries. My entire bill for the evening averaged out at most to 15 Euros.
Restaurante Botín S.L.
Traditionally, the Spanish eat dinner late, so it’s possible you might have to wait until 8 p.m. or so for your restaurant reservation. One place I went to Reservante Botin, a restaurant that has been in existence for almost 300 years (it’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records). Down the street from the Mercado, and in existence since 1725, Botin’s specialty dish is a roast suckling pig that is quite tasty.
ASADOR DE ARANDA
That evening, also my last night in Madrid, we had dinner with friends of my father at Asador de Aranda. Sitting on the same floor as the blazing oven that cooked their signature baby lamb, I could feel my sinuses clearing up. The rain outside was no longer a nuisance but complemented the warmth inside.The wine soothed me; the food simply took over my senses.The jamón, which had become an old friend by then, was welcoming. The black pudding, a first for me, set the pace. And then, the pièce de résistance, the baby lamb cooked in nothing but olive oil, salt and water. After a humane moment of remorse for the kid, we devoured the silken meat and its crisp skin. The only conversation we had during that course was the occasional moan of satisfaction.The puff pastry and dessert wine that followed were Madrid’s hugs and kisses of farewell to me. The cognac simply sealed the deal – waving good riddance and goodbye to the cold.Did I wish to be transported back to my home/hotel and doze off into a magnificent stupor till kingdom come at various points of the day? Of course.But while I could have easily done that, there’s also no denying that I would wake up feeling like I had paid hard-earned money (my father’s) to be sick, all the way in Spain.Like what you read? There's more here.
Casa de Campo
My lunch for the day was at Agra Palace Restaurant, my first Indian Resto in Spain. I talked a bit with Restaurant Manager and asked him about other attractions away from these.. which led me to Casa De Campo the park with lake which was very large in area with huge no. of visitors.Basically I am not a fan of museums, but you can visit many if you are interested. After the evening it was my time to chill somewhere and grab some tapas, so I moved to the city center Gran Via.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
For those who like modern art, the second museum is this “triangle” is also worth a visit. Across from the train station, Estación de Atocha, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is located in a former hospital and holds works by 20th century masters. It’s similar to what you would see at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. One of its most significant pieces is Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” which Picasso painted in protest of the Spanish Civil War. Major works by fellow Spanish artists, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, are also here. The museum is also open late on Friday nights, with free admission.
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza
In addition to these museums, consider checking out the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, once a baron’s private collection, and a great navy museum called Museo Naval, run by the Spanish Navy. (Bring your passport with you for this one, as it’s in a government building. An ID is required for admission).
Plaza del Sol
Plaza del Sol is a well-trafficked pedestrian area, quite lively in both day and particularly at night. Likewise there are shops and restaurants, in this older section of Madrid. On New Year’s Eve, people gather here to conduct the tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight for good luck for the incoming year.
-Drama to catch the flight back homeAnd guess what! We’re back! ????That’s probably the shortest way to sum this trip up! This trip truly made us live the AWARA life. Nothing could be more defining of how travel changes life. Many of us keep thinking that TRAVEL AS A SOLUTION is nothing but delusion, only because of exorbitant expenses that we associate with travel. Let me tell you, we’re no millionaires to take this exotic trip. We’ve been through our struggles and hardships while making ends meet even on this trip. Each one of us has our own story. Someone saved, someone borrowed, someone sacrificed another item on their wish list and someone just considered this to be a great investment.So here it is, I am back in Mumbai.It’s barely been a day since I am back. And I’ve spent all day aimlessly in bed, binge watching TV shows for distraction, dealing with this as if I am going through a break up.It was time to smell some coffee and find solace in writing. So even if this great trip has just concluded- the madness, the secrets, the pictures and even the details of this will be relived by me through this lovely little space I love- Awara Diaries.Stay hooked, ‘cuz you’re going to love what you’re going to read! ????Love,