What I loved most about Madrid is how culturally authentic the city is. The city had a peaceful ambiance. Perhaps it was because we didn't have any expectations, but I found myself loving it more than I expected. Compared to Barcelona, Madrid had more locals who could not speak English. Personally, I found it refreshing to walk down the streets where our conversations couldn't be understood by others. The language barrier acting as a layer of privacy.
We arrived at dawn when the early-morning joggers had just begun to tie their shoes for a run. All I had was my backpack and Google maps to take us to Park Retiro for the sunrise. Unfortunately for the both of us, we lacked a sense of direction and had taken a "sunrise shot on the wrong side of the horizon. Fortunately, we realized this before it was too late.
There are two main parts that you need to visit: The Crystal Palace and the Lake; where you will get a glimpse of the sun peeking from the Earth's horizon.
It was not long before the sun rose and lit the city for a new day. We roamed the wide and clean streets toward Plaza Mayor and the Central Palace. Churros and bread stalls populated the Winter markets.
We stumbled on a cultural dance in front of the Central Palace. The elderly sang and played their unique instruments while the youth danced with their little red dresses. Nothing could have beat the humble feeling of comfort and cultural pride I felt for them. One of the main reasons why I love traveling during the winter season in Europe is because of the warm festivities. The happiness and spirit would brighten the cold weather, bringing a special and beautiful comfort.
We sadly only had one day in this beautiful city but we took every minute exploring parks, churches, and of course, food. I had my first oysters in Madrid! Interestingly enough, we found a botanical garden (which had few blooms) and also waited in line for the Museo del Prado. This museum is a MUST see. Inside has masterpieces such as Velazquez's Las Meninas, Boche's Garden of Earthly Delights, Goya's Saturn, and many more. I fully regret not going earlier. The museum was such a beauty architecturally both exterior and interior.
If I had the chance, I would take an extra week to live in Madrid. The city vibes are so tranquil and for anyone who loves to live in solitude, Madrid has that space and spirit. Until next time!
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