Top 5 Places to Visit in Madrid

1. Retiro Park

Retiro Park

Akin to New Yorks Central Park, Retiro Park is Madrid’s perfect “getaway” destination on a hot, summer day or beautiful fall night if you don’t have the time to leave the city but still want to escape the hustle and bustle for even just an hour. Approximately 350 acres large, Retiro Park is full of open fields and spaces, misty fountains, rose gardens, and “secretive” little corners where it’s very possible and highly probable to get lost in a good book or conversation with a friend. No visit to Retiro Park is complete without a visit to the Crystal Palace or a boat-ride on Retiro Pond.

2. Templo de Debod

Templo de Debod

A Egyptian temple in Madrid? “I didn’t know the Egyptians ever made it that far North,” you might be tempted to ask yourself. Like most questions in life, including “will I ever not pay taxes?” and “am I gaining weight?” the answer for all three is no. The Debod Temple was gifted to the Spanish Government from Egypt and opened to the public 1972 as a sign of gratitude for their assistance in saving and relocating several priceless temples as water levels threatened to eternally submerge them after the opening of the Aswan High Dam in 1960. Once located in Upper Egypt and decorated by Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberias, the Debod Temple now stands in Madrid’s Parque del Oeste (East Park), yet another of the cities gems.

3. Gran Via

Gran Via

It could be argued that Gran Via is Madrid’s equivalent of Times Square as it’s equally adorned with large advertisements for Broadway productions, upscale shops and restaurants and impressive architecture. Seen as a focal point and main attraction for Madrid, Gran Via, literally meaning Great Way, is both a principal street and tourist destination. Walking the street, admiring the architecture and stopping for a glass of Sangria is more of an obligation and less of a suggestion.

4. Puerta del Sol

Sol

Perhaps the heartbeat of Madrid, Puerta del Sol is where everything happens. Rich with history and surrounded by impressive buildings, Puerta del Sol is a wide and very spacious plaza that both invites and overwhelms you with its openness. You can take a picture by the famous bronze bear statue eating strawberries, a nod to the Madrid coat of arms from the 13th century, or walk in to any number of shops or cafeterias to escape the Spanish sun. Not only is Puerta del Sol a fascinating stop but it also marks the exact spot where all radial roads in Spain are measured from as Kilometer 0.

5. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Visiting Plaza Mayor for a quick cup of café con leche or a beer and some tapas with friends is an absolute must. Perhaps one of the more “touristy” things you can do in Madrid, lounging around Plaza Mayor, located in the city center next to Puerta del Sol, is just as much fun as it is stereotypical. You wouldn’t dream of visiting Rome without throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and the same could be said for a cup of coffee in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.

 


 

If you found this post to be helpful, take a look at our other posts as we discuss a variety of topics related to Spain. If you are interested in teaching and living in Spain for a year, send us an email at rvfspain@gmail.com letting us know so we can contact you to set up a free 20 minute consultation!

5 Very Spanish Foods from Spain

1. Paella

Paella

Paella is a very popular rice dish from Valencia that has made its way all around the country and has become a staple dish in just about every corner you might visit. Chock full of shrimp and chicken, vegetables and oysters, paella is most commonly served for groups of 4 or more because of the giant woks used to slow cook the food.

2. Tapas

Tapas

There is no one specific Spanish dish that is known as a tapa. The best way to think of a tapa is as a hors d’oeuvres in terms of size and variety, but instead of eating them as an appetizer they become somewhat of the main meal. A Spanish tapa is just that; it could be a small sandwich or a slice of something and are almost always finger-food. Getting together with some friends at a Spanish bar, ordering a variety of tapas, and getting lost in conversation is perhaps the most Spanish thing one could ever do.

3. Olives

Spanish Olives

Where to begin. It could be argued that the king doesn’t in fact rule Spain; olives rule Spain. They are everywhere! Spain is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of olives and olive oil in the world, which is very evident since it’s impossible to escape them. Thankfully they are just as delicious as they are ever present. Coming in a variety of flavors and cured brines, Spanish olives are addictive like no other and can be as easily downed as popcorn. Sitting out in a Spanish plaza with a cold beer and plate of olives is an absolute must.

4. Cocido Madrileño (if you’re in Madrid)

Captura de pantalla 2018-03-07 a las 13.01.16
Cocido Madrileño (Credit: http://www.comedera.com)

Cocido Madrileño is a fantastic dish that’s part chickpea soup and part meat concoction that’s commonly served during the winter months. Ripe with chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), ham bones, and sometimes chicken, cocido madrileño will fill you up like you never thought possible.

5. Jamón Serrano

jamon 1

jamon

Spain is the world’s number one producer and importer of cured meats and is known the world over for its famous Jamón Serrano (Serrano Ham). Cut from a leg of ham with skilled culinary precision, Jamón Serrano is best eaten with cheese, a glass of wine and a couple slices of bread.

 


 

If you found this post to be helpful, take a look at our other posts as we discuss a variety of topics related to Spain. If you are interested in teaching and living in Spain for a year, send us an email at rvfspain@gmail.com letting us know so we can contact you to set up a free 20 minute consultation!

5 must-see cities to visit in Spain

1. Madrid

Madrid

As the capital of Spain, Madrid is an absolute must-see. Home to over 3 million people, Madrid has just about everything you could imagine: beautiful shops and world-renowned museums, breathtaking mountains, classic parks, and rich and flavorful restaurants speckled all over the city. Just about the only thing Madrid doesn’t have is a beach since it’s the furthermost point in the Iberian Peninsula from any ocean, a conscious decision made over 500 years ago to protect the capital from invading armies. Must-sees: Retiro Park (Madrid’s version of Central Park in NY), Puerta del Sol, Templo de Debod (an Egyptian temple gifted to the Spanish government in 1972), Casa de Campo, Reina Sofia and Prado Museums, and last, but not least of all, Gran Via: arguably Madrid’s version of Times Square.

2. Granada

Spain 4

Located in the South-West corner of Spain in Andalucía, Granada is one of the oldest cities in all of Spain and, at one time during the height of the Moorish rule, was one of the main focal points of art and culture in the world. Conquered again by the Spanish in 1492, Granada has since remained a city of dazzling architecture and unique buildings due to its Islamic-Christian influence that spanned hundreds of years. Must-sees: The Alhambra.

3. Barcelona

Barcelona

Known the world over for its unique Antoni Gaudí architecture and designed spaces, Barcelona is a real gem. Whether you are a soccer fan, an architecture nerd, tourist or wander, Barcelona has something for you. Located on the North-East coast of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is not only home to remarkable architecture and feats of human ingenuity but also to simple and tranquil scenes that one encounters sipping a cold drink on a beach as they watch the sun set. Must-sees: Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Güell Park, Casa Milá, and Camp Nou Stadium where FC Barcelona plays.

4. Puerto del Rosario

FUE

Located on one of the 7 archipelago islands that make up the Canary Islands (yes, the Canary Islands are a part of Spain. Think of them as Spain’s Hawaii), Puerto del Rosario is the largest city on the island of Fuerteventura. The latest Star Wars movie was almost exclusively filmed on this island because of its extraterrestrial look and feel due to its volcanic and desert environment. Puerto del Rosario, and the entire island in general, are home to some of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches on the planet, as well as some of the clearest night skies around, explaining why one of the world’s preeminent observatories is located on the island. Must-sees: Lobo Island, Oasis Park, the sand dunes of Corralejo, and every beach such as Costa Calma.

5. Pontevedra

Pontevedra

Both city and municipality, Pontevedra is located in the North-West of Spain in the Autonomous Community (the equivalent of a state) of Galicia. Those visiting Pontevedra will find delicious seafood dishes such as Galician Seafood Rice (arroz marinero gallego) or Galician Octopus (pulpo a la gallega), as well as old cathedrals and medieval-era architecture that amazingly still stands today. Pontevedra is the perfect northern-coastal city getaway with picturesque beaches and local, fresh seafood. Must-sees: Leña Plaza, Church of the Virgin Pilgrimage, and the Monastery of Armenteira.

 


 

If you found this post to be helpful, take a look at our other posts as we discuss a variety of topics related to Spain. If you are interested in teaching and living in Spain for a year, send us an email at rvfspain@gmail.com letting us know so we can contact you to set up a free 20 minute consultation!