Hala Madrid!

All I had ever heard about Madrid were great things, writes Kate Robson. The architecture, the food, the culture, the people.

Cheap flights thus made for a killer birthday gift, especially when two tickets means that the recipient (him) is obliged to bring me along! Excited at the prospect of a few days off work, lots and lots of tapas (me) and two internationally renowned football stadiums (him) it was an eagerly anticipated few days.

Trivago offered some astoundingly good deals for accommodation. Being a chancer I dragged down the price filter to €50, and found loads of value options I ended up booking a room, ensuite, air conditioning, big double bed, flat screen television and best of all ... smack in the middle of the old part of the city. Sounds too good to be true? I thought so ... but as it turned out the accommodation just perfect and located just off Puerta del Sol. One of the most popular squares in the old town, it is truly a beautiful spectacle and offers the perfect people watching spot and my goodness was there a lot of people! Also, like all of Madrid it was easily accessible via the city's underground system, which really is top notch.

On route to Santiago Bernabéu, Matej, although a firm Bayern Munich fan, was like a giddy child as apparently all things football are 'awesome!'. Perhaps I had lost my senses due to too much direct sunlight or perhaps Matej's excitement was contagious. Either way, our trip to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium — the Real Madrid stadium for those like me who didn't know a thing about football — was actually fun! Definitely the highlight of our trip and highly recommended!

Unfortunately, having walked through the midday heat to see the Atletico Madrid stadium, it transpired Paul McCartney was playing there that night. Therefore, it was closed to the public with nothing having been mentioned on their website. Turns out collaborating with Kanye West is not the most unforgivable thing Mr McCartney he has done in recent years!

To be honest, though although Matej was disappointed, I didn't mind too much as Madrid Rio Park was very close by.

Featuring the Arganzuela Footbridge, a stunning piece of contemporary architecture, the park was high on my list of things to do. Away from the city center it is filled with locals taking a dip in the river, walking their dogs or bathing in the sun. It is a beautiful garden of peace in an otherwise fast pace city.

Tapas also, as predicted were amazing. After doing some research we heading out in search of a place called Naviego.

Having got lost several times we realised that there are beautiful tapas places on every corner and, not going to lie, we indulged in a few. Definitely would recommend working up a hunger and going on a tapas hunt!

Other things to see and do in Madrid, if you have more time to explore, include exploring the Plaza Mayor in the heart of the city with its cafes and restaurants which line the arches of the magnificent square which has Philip III's statue in the centre. It is a world heritage site.

The main transversal exhibition hall on 1th floor of Museo del Prado. Photo by Schnäggli via Wikipedia.
The Museo Nacional Del Prado, affectionately known as The Prado, is the main Spanish national art museum, located right in central Madrid. It was founded by King Ferdinand VII of Spain in 1819 and now is home to over 7,000 paintings. Goya, Velazquez, Rubens, Fra Angelico, are but some of the artists. Information available from its website, www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum.

Art lovers should also visit the Museo Reina Sofia, to see Guernica, Picasso's mural-sized oil painting on canvas which he painted in response to the bombing of Guernica which is a Basque Country village in northern Spain.

Facade of Las Ventas Bullring in Madrid. Pic by Luis García (Zaqarbal) via Wikipedia.
If you are inclined to sample a bull fight, Madrid's main bullring is Las Ventas which is also used for rock concerts and political meetings, or attend a Real Madrid game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

As far as a big city goes, Madrid truly is inherently beautiful and perfect for those looking for a short city break!

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