- Travel Topics
I studied abroad in Madrid in 2009, and had the most incredible time. I made friendships that will last a lifetime, lived in a foreign country, learned a new language, ate obscene amounts of food, and fell in love with Spanish culture.
I went back for the first time in 2014 to meet up with Dave’s sister (who lives in Madrid), his mom who was visiting, and my boyfriend who was living there at the time.
July of 2016 I was back again, this time for a friend’s wedding. This friend, we’ll call her C, met the man of her dreams while studying abroad with me, dated him, broke up once the program ended, got back together years later when they saw each other and it was love at first sight again, did long distance USA – Spain and finally moved to Madrid for a year to fully commit to the relationship. And now they’re married. Talk about a whirlwind romance right? Right out of a Nicolas Sparks novel.
So I was there to celebrate her big day. And in the process also to eat massive amount of Spanish ham (jamon serrano or iberico) and enjoy the city sites with another friend in town for the wedding).
And then of course my parents met us for a weekly long road trip through Spain and Portugal, starting in Madrid.
And since I had just finished a week long road trip in Galicia Spain, with another friend, I was very happy to be well acquainted with Madrid where I didn’t feel the need to run around the city with a Top 10 book in my hand crossing things off a list.
Visiting cities for a second or third time can be incredibly refreshing, knowing that you can plan your days not around top sights and attractions but just around exploring different neighborhoods not in the very downtown happening area.
This visit in Madrid was more about absorbing the atmosphere and just enjoying the company of my friends, rather than sightseeing. I mean sure we rented boats in Retiro park to go around the lake, and walked around Plaza Mayor and Sol, but all at a very relaxed leisurely pace.
A pace appropriate for Spain.
And we ate. A lot. We indulged in salmorejo (a creamy cold tomato based soup), plates of jamon iberico (the world famous Spanish ham), pulpo a la Gallega (Galician style boiled octopus), etc.
It was delicious.
Food traveling is my favorite way to get to know and enjoy a place.
There was a lot of wine and beer consumed as well. And there might have been a pub crawl.
This time around we were staying in the Chamberí neighborhood, – a super happening spot, not far from the city center, packed full of different tapas bars and small restaurants absolutely ideal for tapas and drinks hopping – which is exactly what we did all the time. Wherever you stay, there are plenty of Hotels in Madrid to choose from if you prefer those over an apartment rental.
While I can’t say that Madrid is my favorite city in Europe, it does always feel good to be back to a place where I formed and created so many amazing memories. While you could run around and try to see all the top sites, the best way to get a feel for the city is to take it slow, sip a cup of espresso in the morning and people watch, stroll around the wide avenues, stop in form a meal of the day lunch, and go tapas and drinks hopping at night.
Do as the Spaniards do.