First Impressions of Madrid

I recently spent a week in Madrid, Spain’s bustling capital city. I had a few ideas about what Madrid would be like prior to my arrival, that like any preconceived idea of a city, usually turns out to be completely nothing like the real thing at all! At least in my case this statement is certainly true.. For some reason I thought Madrid would be a dirty city, full of pick pockets, and just not as fun or beautiful as it’s rival Barcelona which lies out on the coast. I’m not sure where I got this from because it couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Protests

I was very fortunate to be in Madrid right in then middle of the protests which were happening in Sol Square (as far as I am aware they are still ongoing, however it’s been over a month since my last visit). For those of you who don´t already know, peaceful protesters have congregated in the main squares of all of Spain’s big cities over the last month, protesting at huge levels of unemployment. At one point the unemployment among young people in Spain aged 18 – 24 had risen to over 46%. At 22, if I had been Spanish, I could well have been a part of that statistic, and therefore I could understand to a degree some of the frustrations. What was most endearing however about these protests was that a) they were all completely peaceful, and b) it was not just young people. I saw many families with young children, elderly people, middle aged people, just people from all walks of life uniting together to protest for their cause. It really was an inspiring place to be for a week.

On my first day down to Sol Square I was dancing with gypsies, singing peace songs in a tiny make shift tent with 200 protesters squeezed in, listening to motivational speeches, and watching movies outside via projector. I really had a blast. It’s been over a month now since I was in Madrid, but as far as I am aware there are still people there living in the square with their tents. If you do happen to be in Madrid, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Tapas

There are tapas bars & restaurants everywhere in Madrid! I literally tried 2 tapas bars per day while I was there, and didn’t even scratch upon the surface of how many was there. Every street in the city centre it seems has an array of tapas bars to choose from. I could imagine this would be a good place to visit for any of your foodie travellers out there.

Nightlife

Madrid is a big city with a huge array of pubs, bars, and clubs to choose from every night of the week. My main problem in Madrid was that the hostel I stayed at was not good for meeting new people or socialising. It had no common rooms, bar, or kitchen. It was also all 4 bed dorms, and I had to share mine with a mother and daughter who both went to bed each night at 9pm! It was however super cheap and right in the centre of town which was why I chose it. To cut a long story short however, this meant each night I had to head out on my own, and simply guess where would be cool to go. Some nights I would find a really cool bar, other times not. Although there is no shortage of nightlife in Madrid, I think for somewhere this big, if you want to really experience the nightlife find someone who knows where is cool to go, or where has a good atmosphere. This also highlighted to me how important it is to find a really good Madrid hotel or hostel, as it can really make or break your visit in some cases.

Parks and Architecture

Madrid is a really beautiful city. This for me was somewhat of a surprise. I had previously read somewhere that it was a bit of a dirty city, but this was definitely not the case in my experience. There are many pretty little parks dotted around Madrid, and some stunning pieces of architecture. The parks were all well looked after, the roads clean, and the buildings majestic. Had I not fallen in love with the people I met here in Sevilla (where I am currently staying), I would certainly considered it as a good place to stay and learn Spanish.

So whether you are staying in hotels near Madrid city centre, or somewhere more off the beaten track, if you are ever in Europe I would highly recommend taking the time out to visit this beautiful city.

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  1. […] could really see myself living in Madrid or Barcelona in the near future, and actually having a base somewhere while I hop about like a mad […]


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