When you’re studying abroad, it’s exciting to get visitors from back home. Several weeks ago, my cousin who is known as the traveler and linguist of the family, visited me in Madrid. I was beyond excited to show him around my new city.
Day 1 in Madrid
He arrived on a Friday, and we arranged to meet outside my host family’s apartment. For anyone who knows what it’s like trying to meet up with someone in a brand new city, it doesn’t always go as planned. Our communication was a little off so we took longer finding each other, but it just made our reunion that much sweeter.
The first stop on our Madrid tour was to La Puerta del Sol so I could get my cousin the famous neopolitanas at La Mallorquina. La Puerta del Sol is the most popular and central square in Madrid. After our neopolitanas, we made our way to the famous Palacio Real, the largest royal palace in Western Europe. While there, we fancied ourselves kings and queens walking through each very elaborate luxurious room. I felt especially queen-esque because the name of the queen in the history pages was Maria Cristina, and my name is the reverse, Cristina Maria.
Next up was the Catedral de Almudena which is located right across the street from Palacio Real. We were dazzled by the stain glass decorations and the whole set up of the Catedral. By this time it was time to eat, so we headed to one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Madrid, Chueca.
First, we visited the Mercado de San Anton where we were tempted to indulge in one of the organic popsicles on display outside of the market, but we decided to go back after enjoying a menu del dia lunch. A midday meal in Spain is known as “menu del Dia” or Menu of the Day. It usually includes a soup or salad, main course with a side dish and a dessert for one all-inclusive price. Not only are these menus always delicious, but an affordable way to eat in Spain. After lunch we headed back to the market to get those popsicles and then indulged at the gluten free cupcake bakery:
After lunch we headed back to the market to get those popsicles and then indulged at the gluten free cupcake bakery: Celicioso, where we ate a carrot and chocolate-peanut butter flavored cupcakes respectively and shared a caramel macaroon that our waiter said, was the most popular flavor with the locals.
After all that food we needed to walk it off so we headed to Gran Via, the most popular shopping street in Madrid, to make our way through stores like H&M and Zara. At Zara, I even got to help my cousin find a very trendy European bomber leather jacket. After shopping, we came across the La Plaza del Callao, an intersection constantly flowing with people, cars, and known as the heart of cinematic and theatrical Madrid. We ended our day at Corte Igles where we watched the sunset from the terrace with an amazing view of the city.
Day 2 in Madrid
The next day we returned to Sol to get a traditional Spanish lunch; paella and potatoes bravas.
We decided to again walk off our food by returning to Gran Via to search through rebajas at Primark, a trendy store that is very popular in Madrid. Rebajas are shopping discounts that are offered throughout the city. Madrid is not like the U.S. where different stores have sales throughout the year. Twice a year, every store in Madrid features rebajas where practically every item in nearly every store is on sale. They last several weeks and items are not on sale the rest of the year.
After shopping, we decided to recharge by treating ourselves to chocolate con churros at San Gines. San Gines is a coffee shop that is famous for the traditional Spanish sweet treat, churros dipped in chocolate sauce.
No visit to Madrid would be complete without checking out the night scene. We started our evening in Chueca and enjoyed some Sangria in a cool atmosphere at a bar we came across while walking around. We then danced our night away singing along to our favorite upbeat songs at some of Madrid’s famous nightclubs.
Overall, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to show Madrid to my cousin and got to catch up like we did. It certainly made Madrid feel like home. I can’t wait for new adventures to come.
Cristina Cisneros is a student from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain for the Spring 2017 term.