Because we’ve all finally finished exams and are preparing to have even more people slowly trickle out of Madrid, we’ve been trying to fit in some last minute touristy things that we either missed throughout the semester or are a little off the beaten track. Naturally, this also includes taking advantage of Madrid’s many green spaces and cafés. 🙂
On our last Sunday with the Iberian kids, we went to El Rastro, Madrid’s famous huge open-air flea market that’s held every Sunday in La Latina. It’s usually wall-to-wall people, but the prices are very cheap and there’s a cool assortment of different things to buy. The market isn’t just popular among tourists, it’s often full of locals too, who spend a lot of the day outside shopping, listening to live music, and frequenting some of the many tapas bars in the area. After shopping for a while, we headed over to a skate park not from the metro that usually has live music playing and listened to a very cool a cappella group that was also a comedy show. Soaking up the sun and chilling with the live music, followed up by a trip to Tierra Burrito, was a great way to spend our last weekend with the Iberian kids!
On Wednesday, we decided to finally to make it up to the top of the Palacio de Cibeles, the large building that dominates the Plaza de Cibeles. Though it used to be the old headquarters of the post office, it’s now the city hall (ayuntamiento) of Madrid. It offers some cool panoramic views of the city from the top and inside also has some art exhibitions and cool study places that we wish we had found out about earlier. Even better: it turns out that going to the top is free every first Wednesday of the month, and we just so happened to be there on the first Wednesday of the month! It was definitely cool to see the skyline of the city we’ve called home for the last few months one last time from a very new angle.
Saturday was Hyunjin’s last night in the city, so we went out for a little bit in Malasaña and Alonso Martínez, but not until after we headed to the Plaza de Oriente to see an event outside the Teatro Real at Ópera Metro. We’re still not really sure what it was for, but the Royal Opera House put on a light show advertising its upcoming events and sang a song. There were a ton of people gathered in the plaza shared by the Royal Palace, and we were all a little surprised when it ended after only 15 minutes, but it was still cool nevertheless. We think it was part of the San Isidro festivities. Because San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid, his feast day, May 15, is also Madrid Day, so there are many celebrations, events, and cool deals during the week.
This Monday, Christy and I were about to head home after chilling with some of our friends, but decided to finally check out the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum when we realized it had free entrance for 30 more minutes that day. This was the only museum in the Golden Triangle of Art that we hadn’t yet it made it to, primarily because the private collection isn’t typically free for students like the Prado and Reina Sofía are. We had a whirlwind tour through the museum and were able to see most of it before they kicked us all out when the clock turned 16:00. I definitely think I prefer the Prado, but I understand that this museum is very good because it fills the gaps of the Prado and Reina Sofía’s collections, including more works from Italian, English, Dutch, and German artists, as well as Impressionist, Expressionist, and European and American more recent works from the 1950s onward. It was cool to see these paintings, but there wasn’t anything really big there. Either way, we’re very glad we made it just in time for the free period!
Yesterday, we continued our adventures with a very fun, chill day. Christy and I started off with the Ateneo de Madrid from our list of cool off-the-beaten track places. We were a little disappointed by this one, and still aren’t really sure what we visited, but the private cultural institution was at least somewhat interesting. Apparently they usually have cultural events and one of the main reasons it’s a cool place to visit is just to chill and study in the atmosphere of the second-largest library in Spain after the National Library. After that, we tried to go to Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, which we are embarrassed to say we still haven’t been to. It closed at 14:30 and we rolled up at 14:31… awkward. Luckily though, we made it to our next stop, the big lake in Casa de Campo, and were finally joined by four of our other friends, Gian, Ben, Spencer, and Max. We just chilled by the water and then wandered around to the park until we got to the Teleférico de Madrid. Christy and I had already taken the cable car before, but the others hadn’t and it’s always cool to go on again. After lots more chilling and a visit to the Microteatro por Dinero, a theater with a bunch of short 15 minute plays, we ended a great day hanging out in Madrid with some bars in Sol and actually made it home at a decent hour.
It’s scary to think we’re nearing the end of our list of things to do and the end of our time in Madrid. Though I’m definitely going to miss the fun, laid-back times like these exploring the city with everyone, we’ll definitely leave with good memories of some good times and the knowledge that we really did accomplish a lot in our time here.