Madrid is one of my favourite European cities. When I first visited in 2009, I had no idea what to expect but enjoyed the city so much that I went back again in 2010 and once again in 2011. It has a very different vibe to Barcelona, which is a city that I also love. It’s certainly less of a tourist destination and feels like it is more catered to locals and Spaniards. The people are very friendly, it’s sunny, warm and affordable, the food and drink is great, and it’s got a very chilled out vibe about it. At night, things, as is the case all over Spain, don’t get started until quite late, and the partying and great vibe continues into the early hours of the following day. Food is valued just as much as drink and both are in plentiful supply and consumed accordingly. Similarly to when I was in Lisbon, people seem to just be out to enjoy themselves, and despite it not being uncommon to see people street drinking in the night spots, there is a complete lack of aggression and “bad” behaviour. The photos below are a combination from my 2010 and 2011 visits.
I love Jamon, and in Madrid it is everywhere. A simple snack is a few strips of jamon in a crispy bread roll. Simple and brilliant.
In August each year, the La Latina district of the city is home to the fiesta for the Virgen de la Paloma. It’s been going since the 1700s and the entire district comes alive with food stands, outdoor bars, live bands, boom boxes and everything else. The best thing about it, is that even very late at night, you have a mixture of teens, families, old people and everyone else just mingling amongst each-other, enjoying the celebrations.
El Retiro park is the largest park in Madrid and is stunning, situated in the middle of the city. Come siesta time (generally seems to be between 2-4pm), it’s one of the most popular places in the city to relax in.