From a capital city to another, we bade Rome arrivederci and waved hola to Madrid. While Rome, plus a bonus visit to Florence and Pisa, was all about immersion in the grandeur of the old world, the specific purpose of the visit to Madrid was all about food. Yes, the cuisine was top priority and everything else was listed below that entry.
|Puerta del Alcala|
On the hours in between dining tables, the exploration of the city was mainly by foot, no hop-on, hop-off tour bus for us on this stop. So when the foot meter refuses to budge and squeals enough, that’s pretty much where the conquest of the city sights ended. Luckily, we stayed at the Centro, the city center where the mix of the well-preserved grandeur of the old blends perfectly with the pomp of the new.
|The Gran Vía is considered a showcase of early 20th-century architecture|
Madrid was contrary to what I perceived it to be, a very laid back with not much to do, much different from bustling Barcelona, a city I was lucky to visit twice in the past. With that picture was painted by people I met, Spaniards included, Madrid would be an early-to-bed kind of city. Not that it would matter to me these days as I have turned into a sleepyhead myself. Spanish clubbing and late nights (in Barcelona) are memories of the past.
|The Cibeles Palace is the city hall of the city|
Of course, the place doesn’t make it less exciting. Any new place I visit is always best experienced with an open mind, with an enthusiasm of a kid with a new toy.
Madrid is bigger than what I perceived it to be—it is huge! The largest city of Spain has 21 districts with 128 barrios, and as the capital of the country, it is the seat of government and the residence of the monarchy.
|Museum of Madrid History at night|
The city lists a lot of must-sees: architectural wonders and historic attractions like the Royal Palace, Puerta de Alcala, Almuneda Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor, Cibeles Palace (the city hall); museums like the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum; modern buildings like the Gate of Europe; and many more.
|The Cervantes Monument at Plaza de España|
Our walking tour took us to a few of the exciting attractions, which were along the direction of the restaurant we were dining in. I referred to it as the in-between-filling-stations tour with an option to shop (for more food because the jamons were irresistible, so were Spanish confections). Gran Via, the “Great Way” is also called the “Spanish Broadway,” is noted for its grand architecture and upscale shopping, and quite busy by day and bursting with lights at night; the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family was grand but they don’t stay there at all; the Plaza Mayor offered interesting art on a building facade; we had a good morning walk at the Plaza de Espana where the Cervantes Monument stands; and discovered a few spots along the small streets around our hotel.
|The modern side of Marid, the Gates of Europe is the 2nd tallest twin towers in Spain|
With so many left unseen, Madrid is one place I won’t hesitate to revisit or perhaps it’s the lure of the cuisine that has been imprinted in my mind. If it will take gaining a couple of pounds on the calorie intake just to see what the rest of the can offer, then I’ll say yes.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 24, 2014.