This photo of the Plaza de Cibeles sums up Madrid for me - majestic architecture and gorgeous fountains. (There's so much more to it, but those were two of my favorite things!)
I'd say the fountains of Madrid were a trademark unrivaled by any other European city I've been to. Every plaza seemed to have an extravagant fountain in the center.
Have I made my point?? There were simply too many fountains to name them all, but they were all so lovely and refreshing to look at.
Other than fountain-watching, here are our Top Ten favorite highlights of Madrid.
1. Our hotel - the Radisson Blu Madrid Prado - was wonderful. It was located in the perfect spot, within the quaint streets of the old town area, where we could easily walk to museums and so many other attractions.
That's my little poser standing on our tiny balcony with a cute little dwarf orange tree.
Our room looked just like this and we had access to this little gem in the basement...
It was the perfect sized pool for the three of us, with jets and fountains and very cool colored lights.
2. Mercado de San Miguel was the quintessential Madrid market. We had read about it and seen shows that featured it so we HAD to go and I'm so glad we did.
The styling of the building was almost oriental.
It was nice and cool inside and had misters that came on every minute or so.
We tried some pizza, being the connoisseurs that we are...
And, had our first go at authentic Spanish tapas and white Sangria.
While the tapas weren't the best we had during the trip, the Sangria was the best I've tasted to date.
3. Plaza Mayor is one of the most visited places in Madrid. We only walked through it a few times, but it's worth seeing, especially at night.
4. Plaza de Toros. No we didn't get to see a bull fight - would have loved that cultural immersion but maybe next time. The arena was beautiful with the mosaics and Moorish architecture.
5. Temple de Debod. This out-of-place Egyptian temple was gifted to and rebuilt in Spain for their engineering help in constructing the Great Dam of Aswan in Egypt.
6. The Royal Palace of Madrid as seen from across the Camp del Moro. This view of the palace is so beautiful.
The gardens are open to the public and you avoid the typical crowds found at the entrance of the palace.
Sadly, the royal family doesn't live at the palace. It's only used for state events (a waste if you ask me).
7. Plaza de la Villa. This was my favorite little square in all of Madrid. It was delightful since it was uncrowded and quaint and just serene.
Loved it and highly recommend finding it if you go - it was very near the Plaza Mayor and Royal Palace.
8. A Flamenco Show is a must in Spain - we went to Corral de la Moreria near the Royal Place and highly recommend it and so does Trip Advisor (God bless Trip Advisor by the way - we couldn't travel prep without it). We didn't pay to have dinner (you can elect to do that), but we were seated at a nice table and were all given a complementary beverage. Sangria for me - Ole!
(I think that may be Christian Bale or Adam Levine, just sayin')
It's hard to capture Flamenco dancing on camera. Talk about an impressive feat. The foot work is beyond any other sort of dance technically. It made Irish dancing look easy. As best relayed by my husband's words: "They must wear Spanx."
9. The Reina Sofia Art Museum was delightful for a little modern art fix. It was a museum of manageable size and wasn't too crowded in the morning - we ran through it in an hour. That's all the time you've got with a toddler, right?
I loved this grand piece in the sculpture garden...
I forget who crafted this one, but it was cute in a bulbous dog sort of way.
A little Salvador Dali is always good for the perplexed soul... (what was he smoking?)
We got to see Picasso's famous and very large "Guernica" painting, which helped bring the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 20th century to the world's attention. I knew so little of the war until we were exposed to the history of Spain during our trip.
10. Finally (drumroll)...our last highlight: The food!
Mojito gelato simply has to be the best flavor of gelato known to man.
The fresh-squeezed fruit juices in Spain are out of this world phenomenal. Called "zumos", they could be found everywhere. Our favorite was the orange juice.
Churros con chocolate is one of the best comfort foods I never knew I was missing until I visited Spain. Why we don't have it here in the states is beyond me.
Overall, we loved Madrid and I highly recommend a visit to what I'd call the "metropolitan city" of Spain.
Adios Madrid! You were lovely and will be missed but there is more Spain to see...
I'll share some "island Spain" with you in the next travel post - Mallora and Ibiza, baby!