For the first time this month, I actually managed to stay in Spain for the weekend, as I traveled to the capital city, Madrid. I originally planned to be in Barcelona for a relaxing few days, but last minute a few friends and I decided to take advantage of CEA’s free two-day trip.
I entered the weekend with ultimately no expectations—I didn’t know much about the city, and because the excursion was so last minute, I was unable to research popular things to do or places to eat. However, to my surprise, the past weekend in Madrid has been my favorite thus far. I’m not sure if it was because of the city itself, the people I was with, or a combination of both, but I can honestly say I was sad to pack my bags up on Sunday.
The train ride to Madrid is a quick three hours (and is so much more convenient than arriving at the airport early to avoid baggage and boarding pass issues). Upon arrival, the CEA group of approximately 100 students all trekked their bags up the street, as the hotel we were staying at was just a 15-minute walk from the station. We were checked in by the early afternoon, which gave us a full day to explore the city. I was shocked to find how delicious the food was, as I didn’t come across a single bad meal throughout the entire weekend. In fact, we ended up stumbling upon one of the best brunch spots I’ve been to in Europe, called Mür Café. Apparently this place is nearly impossible to eat at without a reservation, but luckily someone had cancelled right before we walked in. The café’s traditional brunch is 22 euros, which includes coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, delicious croissants, toasted bread and jelly and a choice of bacon, lox or spinach poached eggs—it’s safe to say you get your moneys worth at this place.
Of course, we knew we couldn’t leave Madrid without visiting the Royal Palace aka the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. All in all, the grounds were absolutely breathtaking and straight out of a scene from Princess Diaries 2. Although we didn’t pay extra to tour the inside of the Palace, just walking around the grounds was enough to see the magical architecture and breathtaking views of the city.
The last thing on my Madrid “to-do” list is to rent a rowboat at Retiro Park Lake, located in the heart of the park. Not only will this activity allow you to capture some great pictures, but it’s such a unique experience that isn’t offered anywhere in Barcelona.
So, if you’re in the neighborhood, I highly recommend you explore Madrid. With endless shopping, great nightlife (especially Kapital—Madrid’s seven-story nightclub) and plenty of greenery and parks to relax at, this city truly has it all.