#15 Madrid

Two weekends ago, I went to Madrid using the money I saved up! Actually, this trip was more for visiting Lucia my Peaceboat bestie/roommate than to explore Spain. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but all big European cities are starting to look the same to me. Even the things to do are the same: art museums, a huge park, cathedrals, churches, the same European city views… I’m kinda sad that I’m not really “moved” by these views that I used to find magnificent before.

Of course, nobody can deny how beautiful the structures are in Madrid. Here are some typical pictures of places that will come up if you Googled “Madrid”, taken using my own camera.

■Classic Madrid

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①:Ayuntamiento, the City Hall of Madrid. There’s a huge banner that says “Refugees Welcome”. Because of economic circumstances, Spain doesn’t accept as many refugees from the Middle East as its neighbours Germany and France, but it seems that they are increasing their refugee number to 15,000 for this year.

It was a very impressive building. It was also next to a very busy junction. At this spot, I felt the energy and dynamism of this capital city.

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②:Buen Retiro Park. Your classic “Lungs of the City”. It was HUGE. I was walking around for about 2 hours. Another thing I noticed, it was full of people even though it was a Monday afternoon! Pictured here is the Alfonso XII monument.

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③:Plaza Mayor, which in Spanish means The Biggest Square. I went there at 1.00am on a Saturday night and it was still so lively! I didn’t feel scared at all, like I would usually do if I were in any other city in the world. In Tokyo or KL, people out at this hour would either be young people, clabbers, or drunks etc., but over here I even saw families and kids who looked as young as primary school kids. According to Lucia, it’s normal to see this many people out in the city at this time on Friday and Saturday nights. Even when she was a kid, she would go out till 1am at night most weekends and the next day she got to sleep in as late as she wanted.

IMG_1190.JPG④:UNESCO World Heritage Site: Toledo! Also Lucia’s hometown. The townscape looks different from other cities I’ve seen in Europe. Doesn’t the planning look more “messy” and organic? When I told Lucia this, she said it was because the town was under a Muslim administration at one point in time. Toledo is also a town where the Jewish, Muslims, and Christians coexisted in peace for 700 years, and this is evident in its unique town design.

■And then some food

In clockwise order:
– Empanada y cerveza con limon
– Homemade Spanish stew made by Lucia’s mum called Cocido
– Napolitana de chocolat (or more commonly known as Pain Au Chocolat, or Chocolatine in the south of France, there’s apparently a huge debate about it)
– Spanish style breakfast:Drizzling olive oil on a piece of toasted baguette, topped with grated tomato and then very yummy Spanish ham. The yau-char-kuai looking things at the top of the picture is Porras, kinda like a thicker version of Churros.
– Frigging good and rich (richest) hot chocolate at SAN GINES CHOCOLATERIA. It was also surprisingly very reasonably priced.

■Curious observations

①Interesting times for daily routines (Maybe isn’t applicable to all Spanish people, but these are just my observations)
– Breakfast→Anything, Lunch→About 2pm, then change into pyjamas for a siesta, Dinner →10:30?!?! Sleep at 12:30

②Everyone was so nice, including all shop assistants. They weren’t like the robots in Japan (lol), but very “human” and nice. Maybe I was lucky but everyone was so patient with a clueless non-Spanish speaking tourist like me.

③A very noticeable amount of people were in red leather jackets or red pants.

④The “gay neighbourhoods”, Malasana, Chueca were really soooo chic and are such nice places to hang out. Plus, I saw so many people walking their dogs here! I really recommend coming here. But, don’t go to YOSHI, a Japanese restaurant in the neighbourhood, they charged me €11.50 for a lousy piece of hard and bland okonomiyaki. Oh, but their yakisoba were actually not bad.

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