Madrid was the place that my friends and I chose to live a new adventure. It was a spontaneous and unplanned decision, but one we don´t regret. We left at dawn, from Portugal, and drove for about four hours, when we arrived, it felt like we were in another world. The sky was blue with no clouds, and the temperature was mild. When we got to town, the first thing that stood out, besides the car traffic, was the height of the buildings - I felt like an ant, but a happy ant. Another thing that stood out was the number of balconies with the Spanish flag hanging. The taxis were prominent due to their difference between them and those in Portugal.
One of the first places we visited was the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium - we did not get to visit the interior because Ronaldo forgot to give us the tickets (just kidding!).
Another place we visited was the Temple of Debod, a pretty place, where you can take beautiful photographs, due to the beauty of its antiquity.
Besides these places, we also explored the space around the Royal Palace, the official residence of the King of Spain. This was the attraction I liked most, due to the detailed and well-designed architecture of the building, as well as the lamp posts that surround it. It is open to the public and allows visits to the interior of the building, which is even more interesting. Next to the palace is the equally beautiful Catholic Cathedral.
The Plaza Mayor is another well-known landmark in Madrid – it´s a magnificent plaza with a statue of Filipe III in the centre, and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. It is a stunning and historical place where you can relax while you eat and drink while watching various artists performing. As in the other areas mentioned, the plaza is an excellent place to photograph, just like I did.
It is also important to mention the park of El Retiro, a park that seems to have no end because of its grandeur. It is a great place to relax, exercise, and to walk or just to breathe. There is a lake with boats, a rose garden, numerous fountains and statues and a charming glass palace. I really loved this place that resembles a paradise, a paradise that I didn´t want to say goodbye to.
There are many other places that my friends and I visited on this day (yes, we explored Madrid in one day! We´re crazy, right?), and yet many much we missed. It was a long, gruelling day for our feet that I would love to relive if I could.
As I said, this day was not very well planned, one negative that came from this was the fact that there was a lack of free car parking, which is not the case in Portugal.
However, many things also took us by surprise: the sympathy and availability of the people who live there and the ease of understanding the Spanish language (which is a bit like the Portuguese language).
On this day I walked, I ran, I photographed, I spent (money and calories) and above all I laughed and smiled a lot because travelling with the ones we like the most is always more fun than going alone. It´s also less embarrassing when you scream with emotion at the fact that the King of Spain is passing right next to you, by car, especially when you discover it's his birthday (yep, this happened to us!).
Lastly, I highly recommend a visit to the city of Madrid, and although you can explore much more over a few days, I challenge you to do it in one day (ahah)!
Written and photos by Cristiana Santos
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