I had previously been to Spain before in 2011 for four days in Barcelona. Barcelona was a huge city, oddly reminiscent of a combination of New York and Los Angeles, but with a European twist. I was happy to get the chance to visit Spain again two years later in December 2013.
I loved my time in Madrid because I was able to experience a more intimate Spanish city. Compared to Barcelona, I could really feel a lot of the older historical and cultural influences. Admittedly, I spent plenty of time in stores like Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear, and Mango (my favorite Spanish retailers) and watching a Real Madrid game (regrettably a game without Ronaldo). Luckily I did also spent a lot of time exploring the historical sites and roaming the cobblestone streets lined with beautiful, colorful buildings.
Mattia and I would spend the day walking around Madrid, admiring the little things such as the beautiful painted street signs and trying local street foods like the decadent churros. We'd try our best to pass the thousands of slow walkers (why were there so many!?) on the overcrowded streets in the city center. We then spent a few delicious hours at Museo del Jamon, trying platters and platters of different raw cured ham with the most refreshing beer. At nights we chose from a large selection of popular clubs and bars and left early at 3am while others partied until 6.
Each day we would get accosted by some of the strangest street performers we had ever seen to date. Let's see--there was the small clown man in the suitcase who made strange high pitched noises, the rainbow yak that never stopped clicking his wooden mouth, strange clay-covered floating men, and much more. It was so funny to see the weird creativity that amassed in one place!
Madrid is such a charming and interesting city. I really liked that it was small enough to become familiar in a few days, but with all the perks of a cosmopolitan city. The people were laid back and friendly. I'll be back someday! Hopefully I can fit it in with all the other Spanish cities and towns and villages that I want to visit.