Madrid, Spain: Finding The Claim to Fame
Don’t be fooled by the Taco Bells and Starbucks on every corner, Madrid has just what you’ve always been looking for in a classic Spanish city, it just takes a fine eye to discover it. Amidst the pastel colored buildings lining the cobblestone roads, you’ll find an array of bakeries, bars, and tapas restaurants awaiting the business of the average tourists.
Spoiler: it’s a trap.
To find authenticity in this beloved city, wander down any catty-cornered road and out of the hustle and bustle where you’re sure to find a small and unique café full of freshly baked goods just waiting to be devoured. And don’t worry, no matter what, you’ll never spend much on something oh so delicious. Churros are the staple here, and no place is finer than San Gines in La Latina. Enjoy the charm of Europe by sitting outside and fill your stomach with light crispy churros dipped in a rich and heavenly chocolate (and make sure you save enough to drink once the churros have disappeared).
What about the night life you’ve heard so much about? Don’t worry, it’s hard to be disappointed. You can’t go wrong beginning your night with Madrid’s famous tapas bars, i.e. FREE FOOD when you order a drink. But don’t be too quick to pick any old restaurant (because they are everywhere). Again, seek out that authenticity. El Tigre is about as good as they get and is a favorite hangout and meeting point among the exchange students. Whether it’s sangria, beer, or a mojito, nothing beats the addition of free plates of food piled high with soft breads topped with thin meats, a classic manchego cheese, or everyone’s favorite: a side of croquetas. The night doesn’t end here though. There are bars and clubs in every direction and free drinks are seldom hard to find. The catch? Nothing is open before ten, so if you’re an early riser, good luck. As the first metro opens at six a.m., prepare to party all night, because that’s what this city is all about. Living that Spanish life means making the rounds. Hop from bar to bar or club to club and drink and dance until the early morning. Spend the day sleeping and get up with the rest of the city around noon, because no one is an early riser in this city.
If partying and eating aren’t quite your thing, Madrid still has a lot to offer. El Templo de Debod is a must see at sunset, and the historical sights all around are not to miss. You’ll find a fantastic mixture of different cultural backgrounds and architecture, from Spanish to Arabic and old and Europeanesque to modern. Don’t miss out on museums (most of which are free entry) or a trip to El Escorial for picturesque mountain scenery and a bit of Royal history. And if a typical tourist’s experience is what you crave, check out Puerta del Sol for food, drink, and shopping or wander the streets of Malasaña for store upon store of kitschy curiosities. Once you tire of Madrid (if you ever do) a day trip to a surrounding city such as Toledo or Segovia is both financially and physically doable.
Madrid, like any other city, has much to offer, so don’t miss out on the authentic food, music, sights, and smells that this city will be quick to entice you with. ¿Vale?