What Travel Writers Say

Meandering in Madrid

© By Jean Fuleki
  Plaza Mayor When visiting Madrid, the capital of Spain, it's helpful to know that there are two faces to this remarkable city. Modern buildings are less elaborate, and may remind you of sections of Toronto, Boston, Chicago or even Budapest, Hungary. In contrast, make sure to book accommodations in the old section, if you seek the ornately decorated white buildings, topped with elaborate sculpture and beautiful embellishments. Barring that, familiarize yourself with the bus routes, for you can easily visit most parts of the city by using public transport.
     One of the most astonishing buildings in the old section is the post office, which resembles a castle, or perhaps this white building with towers and turrets may look like a beautifully decorated wedding cake, gleaming in the sun.
     The Prado museum, magnificent on its own, houses a fine collection of paintings by Goya, Velazquez and other artists. Bring good walking shoes to allow time to enjoy their work.
     Visit the Royal Palace and the buildings built in the early 1900's for the Olympics. The gardens and fountains which dot the city are refreshing and Fountain beautiful, and if you visit in May, you can visually feast on the lovely jacaranda trees, colorful bougainvillea, and many other flowering trees and shrubs along with gushing fountains.
     Walking through the myriad districts, one discovers colorful courtyards and small shops which sell interesting souvenirs and collectibles. If tired, find a historic place to sit and rest such as the 17th century Plaza Mayor, located in the Puerto del Sol district. There, you can savor the relaxed atmosphere of this ancient square while having a bite to eat or merely enjoying a drink at a sidewalk cafe. You will discover a variety of foods from the pedestrian hamburger and French fries to the traditional seafood paella or tapas. Tapas are small appetizers on individual plates. One favorite is thinly sliced eggplant, breaded and fried, served with a sweet molasses sauce. Another is fried, battered herring, served whole and they can be eaten without being deboned. Salads are plentiful, often featuring a generous topping of tuna along with the vegetables and olives.
     The square is Castilian and much happened there: bullfights, executions, pageants, and trials by the Inquisition, all watched by large crowds in the presence of reigning King and Queen.

Madrid in Bloom  Royal Palace  Royal Palace  Royal Palace  Shopping 

     In the evening, be prepared to dine late, as restaurants do not open before 8:00 p.m. Life here in Madrid is laid back, people reporting for work at 9:00 a.m. and going home at 1:00 to have lunch and take a nap. They return to work at 4:00 and work until 8:00, which is why the first seating at a restaurant is not earlier. If the evening is warm, you will find people sitting in the squares after supper, sipping favorite drinks and enjoying the warm evenings until early morning.
     If you enjoy soccer, opera, or bullfights, you may be fortunate to attend one of these activities here, but the experience of exploring this enchanted, old city on foot is ample entertainment for most.
     Hotels are modern and well situated. Getting around is very easy. There is so much to see that you will want to stay several days. The best time to visit Madrid is either May or September as temperatures tend to be milder, and this makes for a more pleasant walk through the wonderful city.

Jean Fuleki is a retired public school teacher who taught in the Ft. Erie family of schools for 30 years. Her main interest was teaching English and creative writing. She has published several poems and short stories and newspaper articles. After living in Ridgeway for 25 years, Jean is now in Niagara Falls.

Photo Credits
Jean Fuleki

If you go
Madrid, Spain
as seen on
Spanish Tourism site: www.spain.info/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrid,_Spain
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Madrid

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/

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