Friday, January 16, 2015

All Time Favorite Destinations Part 2: Madrid, Spain

Madrid is like an elementary school "boyfriend". You tease him, you make fun of him, you act like you hate him, but deep down inside, you have a major crush on him.

I know I might be biased, but what can I say? I spent the most time there than in any foreign country, experienced the many ups and downs of living in unfamiliar country with vastly different social and cultural norms. It was like a roller coaster love affair that is forever emblazoned in my heart.

It wasn't easy living in Madrid and I spent a lot of time complaining about how different things were from what I was comfortable with, but eventually when I just let go and embraced it for what it was, it's natural charm and understated beauty swept me off my feet. I met so many wonderful friends who I know I can pick up from where I left off even though we don't see each other often and that to me is something supremely special. I will never forget my time there and as much as annoy my boyfriend about how awesome Spain is, I can't help it! But I guess the only way to truly find out if I'm right, is to go see it for yourself!

 When I took this picture I thought I was a genius who had captured the essence of #humility

 Beautiful Madrileño dusk.

 My FAVORITE gelateria ever that I've been to anywhere. I know Italy is supposed to be known for its gelato and in all fairness, I've mostly only been to the touristy parts of Italy... but I guarantee this place will give Italian gelato a run for its money. 
Location: Plaza del Dos de Mayo in Malasaña, Madrid.

 Smooching my Spanish boyfriend. He was always the rock that I could count on :P

  El Escorial: a beautiful historical residence of the king built right outside of Madrid. If you have extra time and are wondering what to do, it;s a peaceful escape from the city. You can easily take the train or a bus.

 Mafia Family 

 Ugh! The beautiful Santiago de Bernabeu Stadium

One of my favorite places to frequent: Mercado San Miguel. It's like an indoor farmer's market with tapas stalls of all varieties. It is a little on the pricier side for tapas but it's a beautiful atmosphere and a great place to go try tapas for the first time because you can actually see the tapas (especially helpful if you're Spanish skills are limited to "hola, me llamo..."). You can also grab some beautiful wine to sip on while you try various tapas. 
Location: Adjacent to Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Did you know that the Spanish take extreme pride and joy in their jamón? I know it may seem weird and slightly scary with that hoof still on there but the cured meat on those luscious legs TO DIE FOR! Try and spend a little more money if you can to eat the jamón ibérico. It's unique to Spanish cuisine and the pigs are fed an acorn diet throughout their lifetime; the end result? Beautifully dark meat with a clean and nutty taste.

More pork!

Parque del Retiro is Madrid's equivalent to Central Park in New York.

The Palacio de Cristal in Parque del Retiro

The Palacio Real de Madrid aka my vacation home when I'm in Madrid.
Location: Calle Bailén, Madrid

Equally as beautiful at night

The dead center of Spain

I was never a big chocolate person but this chocolate croissant opened the floodgates of my chocolate croissant obsession

Everywhere is such a beautiful backdrop

The Ayuntamiento de Madrid during Christmas lights up different colors at night.

Putting on costumes for Carnaval. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be...

Pulpo a la Gallega at Terra Mundi. Again, scary looking but oh so delicious! You can check out my post about this restaurant here.

This was the most normal photo of us.... I was so happy that my friend Christine came to visit me during Christmas. Grateful to have had a piece of home during this time and to have made so many fun memories. 

Southern Madrid

Friends I met at in my Political Science classes at Complutense

With friends drinking a bucket filled with beer that it too heavy to carry and too cheap to only go through 1(hehehe..)

With my high school friends who were during a Euro-trip post college. Who would've thought we'd reunite in Madrid!

Welcome to Madrid!

Madrid, I love you!

Now that I look back, my pictures do not do justice to all of the beautiful moments I had in Madrid. Through all of my travels, I've come to realize one important thing (out of many..) and that is to just enjoy the ride. There are conversations and emotions and things I saw that can never be adequately captured by a photo or even video. They will be forever treasured in my heart and in my memories but that is the one of the many beauties of traveling. You get to experience certain things that you might not experience in the comforts of "home". 

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