Madrid.

A Spanish beauty from their architecture to their café con leche.

The thing about Madrid is that it’s an addictive city. Not the bad kind of addiction that you need patches to forget but the kind that you go through withdraw from when you leave. It’s a city of passion, from every soccer jersey to historic highlight. Days are spent eating tapas of olives, cheeses and meats while enjoying a pitcher of sangria.

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Religious symbols decorate almost every building, showing the strength of faith in this Spanish city.

When it comes to Madrid you need to give the city the time it deserves. You cannot just Google the top attractions, take a cab around and then cross it off your list. Madrid needs to be sipped like a fine wine, it isn’t a shot of whisky that you want to get over with. The best thing to do is to walk the city, it’s big but it’s worth every step.

 

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Plaza Mayor, an excellent place for tapas under patio umbrellas.

When you are in Madrid you need adapt to the culture. Have breakfast in a local café eating pan con tomate and drinking café con leche. Sit in a park while you eat your afternoon merienda of churros and hot chocolate. Buy a Real Madrid jersey and watch a game in a bar over paella and beer.

Madrid is like Toronto, it doesn’t stop running once the sun goes down and neither should you.

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Plaza Parterre’s strangely shaped trees that look as if they were plucked straight out of a fairy tail.

Walk the city.

There are things that you simply can’t miss in Madrid. For one, you absolutely need walk around Casa de Campo. It is the largest park in Madrid, measuring five times bigger than New York’s Central Park. With a lake with row boats, fountains, and even a zoo, you need to take time to explore the grounds. I particularly like La Rosaleda del Retiro and Plaza Parterre, the places looking as if they are straight out of a Spanish Alice in Wonderland. La Rosaleda’s is covered in different types of rose bushes, having floral arches surrounding fountains and stone benches. Plaza Parterre contains oddly shaped trees and a layout that can only be described as regally.

 

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Jardines De Sabatini, the beautiful Neoclassical gardens behind the Royal Palace.

A highlight of Madrid is the walk from the Plaza Mayor to the Temple of Debod. Take an hour or two to really look at the sights because the historic significance for each point of interest will leave you in awe. The details in every statue, window and cathedral arch is well worth the trip. The best part of the walk is once you make it to the top of the hill at the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and brought to Madrid in 1970. When you finally get to the lookout over the city, simply sit under the trees, take off your shoes and enjoy a beer for 1€ sold by local vendors walking around the park.

It’s a city that cares, whether it’s their culture, language, or heritage. They care down to the last detail and it’s what makes Madrid so beautiful.

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Palacio de Cristal in Madrid’s Buen Retiro Park.

If you are up for some travelling, take advantage of Madrid’s subway and train system for day trips. There are so many cities with their own unique history around Madrid that for 20€ you can find yourself in an completely different environment.

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Madrid’s City Hall with a banner reading ‘Refugees Welcome’.

Madrid is all about its’ energy. The buzz of people and cars constantly whisking down streets. The best memory I have from Madrid walking back from a late night stroll in the Casa de Campo. A game against Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid had just ended, everyone wearing a jersey and cheering as they flooded out of bars. Traffic had stopped for a red light, Vespas and cars honking the same tune as they all wore the same uniform, ecstatic for their soccer team’s win.

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Temple of Debod in Madrid, Spain.

It’s hard to leave Madrid since it’s like a home away from home for Torontonians. Bright lights, fast cars, walking everywhere because we just can’t stop moving. It’s a beautiful city and it will leave you counting down the days till you can visit again.

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