We visited the Spanish artist, Sorolla’s house and the gardens were really beautiful. There were three floors and all the rooms on the first floor were actually decorated by him, which was amazing. The second floor was dedicated to all his beachscapes, while the top floor was where he usually worked and so, his career was spread out over the four rooms. The outside was so serene and I could have quite easily sat and relaxed for hours, staring at the fountain, without getting bored. It’s quite a hidden gem, but well worth a visit if you’re walking around the city – it’s also free on Sundays!
We walked through Plaza de Cibeles – an iconic square made up of marble sculptures and fountains. My auntie told me that this fountain (the Cibeles Fountain) is very important and that supporters of Real Madrid jump in the fountain to celebrate victories... which may explain why it’s cordoned off. It’s such a pretty area, also home to the City Hall, Bank of Spain and Linares Palace.
We also visited the Thyssen, one of the big art museums in the city – close to The Prada, the most famous art museum. While we were there, an Edward Hopper exhibition was housed. I studied art at GCSE and A Level and although I was never very good (I got a B at best), it’s always been an interest of mine and so this visit was great fun. There was even an interactive area, which is why this painting has been blown up. I don’t think I could pinpoint my favourite painting but I loved his style.
While we stayed at my auntie’s the fiestas in the town were in full flow, so we spent a couple of evenings walking around the markets, food and beer tents and funfair. There’s always so much going on and it’s a great way of bringing the community together. The firework display on the first night was incredible and we enjoyed mojito by the litre! Some of the tents even housed entertainment with singers and other acts taking place.
Of course a city tour has to include a visit to the local football ground – although we didn’t see a game this time round. I’d been to the Bernabeu on a number of occasions before but the sheer magnitude of the area astounds me every time. Another recommendation, as there are so many bars and restaurants in the surrounding streets – there’s even a lovely heladeria. €19 may be a bit steep, but you get to walk around at your leisure and so, could spend hours in the grounds.
When we stayed in a hotel, we were situated on Gran Via, which is where most of the shops are based. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good so we stayed in the hotel a fair bit, but the streets really weren’t that busy. The area is famous for its large neon Schweppes sign and the Telfonica headquarters. It’s so easy to lose yourself in this lively area and even better, Mango and Zara are next door to each other!
Balcony selfie! Our hotel room was just perfect, although the balcony wasn’t the biggest. I’m not even scared of heights but looking up and down the road, I was actually terrified of falling off, especially with the torrential winds and rain. The view of Gran Via was just beautiful though – and we were in an ideal location. Two minutes away was the metro station and a 10 minute walk was Puerta del Sol, another lively district.
My auntie and uncle took us to Segovia one evening, which is about 45 minutes away in the car. It’s a gorgeous medieval town with a plaza, cobbled streets and little alleys waiting to be explored. On arrival, the first thing you see is the aqueduct and it’s incredible that it’s still standing – there is nothing holding the bricks together. The architecture in general is beautiful. At night it is very different and I’d love to go back in the daytime, particularly to visit the Alcazar, which was one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. We had a traditional dinner at Meson de Candido (which you can read about here).