How do I even begin to describe the city that, for four months, I have come to call home? Modern Madrid is a metropolitan city, with a fairly diverse population and it has influences from both older era and the evolving new one. LGBT rights are firmly defended, and one of the barrios, Cheuca, is a largely LGBT community, but influences are widespread throughout Madrid. There are growing immigrant populations, and several barrios such as Lavapiés and La Latina are including a more diverse range of gastronomy within Madrid. Throughout the city, old style buildings house both old and new hotels, shops, or restaurants. As a student, I was always on the lookout for a good meal at a decent price, a steady study spot, and cool places to see in my city. I not only will share my favorites in words but with this map that includes all the places I talk about and more!
With my homestay program, I received breakfast and either lunch, also called la comida, or dinner. Because of that, depending on our schedules, my friends and I would decide where to eat for lunch or dinner. Usually we would meet for dinner, and we always tried to find a deal! We learned about a common practice for restaurants to provide a Menú del Día, a deal that would usually include a first and second course, a drink, and a dessert. We found many places, especially in Lavapiés at the Lebanese or Indian restaurants that provided all of this usually for under €10! We also explored much of Sol and found some popular fast food restaurants like Wok to Wok and Wok Sun where you could also have a good portion of food for €10 or less. Another popular place is 100 (Cien) Montaditos, found on pretty much every street corner in Madrid. Montaditos are small sandwiches, of which the store has 100 different options to choose from, ranging from €1 to €2 euros each, although on every Wednesday and Sunday, everything is a euro! One of everyone’s favorite places was Takos Al Pastor, found right off of Plaza Mayor with another location near Sol as well. With tacos for €1, in the flavors of cochinita (marinated pork), pollo, suadero (pork cut), nopal (cactus) y queso, chorizo and papas (potatoes), and of course, al pastor, no wonder it was our go to! I also recommend any Kebab place for a quick, cheap, and delicious meal. It may get a little messy but very worth it. As far as traditionally Spanish food, a great area to find tapas is in the La Latina neighborhood, but you’ll find them pretty much everywhere you go. There are so many other places, and I list more on my Map
Madrid’s Must See
Of course, when you visit Madrid you have to see El Triángulo Dorado del Arte, which consists of three very famous art museums, Museo del Prado, Museo Reina Sofia, and the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. You can spend several, several hours in each, and they all hold different types of art. El Prado has older art; it houses the famous Diego Velasquez piece Las Meninas among many other famous works and artists. Reina Sofia houses modern art, from the 19th century onwards, including the famous Guernica by Pablo Picasso. The Palacio Real, Cathedral, and the historical neighborhoods of Madrid nearby are definitely places to visit while in Madrid. The palace is no longer in service as royal residence, but it still houses many artifacts and beautiful rooms. Underneath the cathedral lies a crypt that is open to the public, something worth checking out. Another must-see is the Parque del Buen Retiro. I was fortunate enough to live only 5 minutes from this beautiful park, and I went at least a few times a week. It has a beautiful pond in the center where you can rent rowboats, the oldest tree in Madrid, a beautiful rose garden, a crystal palace, and a pavilion garden with a flock of peacocks. Residents can be found walking, running, and roller-skating through the park any time of the year.
Consistently open study spaces in Madrid were, incidentally, really hard to find. Often, I would go to the library in Retiro, but it had reduced hours on the weekends. Sometimes after it closed, I would head to Casa Encendida, a study space about a 10 minute walk from the Reina Sofia. These places tended to fill up early, but there are also a few Salas de Estudio that I found close to where I lived.
There is so much more to Madrid than any few words can describe, including places to go out and food places that are a bit more expensive, but totally worth it. I could hardly fit even a few in this post, but if you are interested in other places, I recommend in Madrid check out the linked map! And of course, all of this is easy to access with a student metro pass, called an abono. The metro is quick, convenient, clean, and goes almost everywhere in Madrid. I fell in love with the easy access, dependable service, and iconic signage.
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<p>Juliana Trujillo is just a girl from Colorado ready to do big things. A love for learning, family support, and food inspired her ambitions to study abroad. She is a Bioengineering major with a Chemistry minor with a passion for promoting STEM equity and equality. In her free time, Juliana loves to read, be outdoors, or read outdoors in addition to spending time with friends and family.</p>