Winter Diaries: Christmastime in Madrid

We all know Spain is awesome in summer – from Malaga’s gorgeous beaches to Barcelona’s spacious parks and gardens, I’m all over that. This year though, I decided to check out Madrid and Barcelona during the holidays.

I figured: Christmastime in Madrid should at least not suck, right? I mean, It’s Madrid. 

Brace yourselves: awesome pictures are coming. During the few days I spent in the capital, it was absolutely freezing (and this coming from someone who lives in Denmark) but, duh, that didn’t stop me from going around with my favorite Nikon.

My perfect Christmastime in Madrid commemorated with awesome (be easy on me) photos:

Puerta del Sol. Easiest way to get there: by metro. Name of the stop: Sol. Lines 1, 2 and 3 go there.

The most central place in the city where the famous symbol of Madrid (a 20 ton statue of a bear eating from a strawberry tree) is located:

  • This square or “plaza” if you want to be Spanish about it. Puerta del Sol is one of the busiest in the city with people constantly roaming about hurrying to get some tapas or take a picture with… Puss in Boots, anyone?

I had to chase this one, but come on – they’re too cute!

If you’re too cool for those, there’s always the alien and the predator lurking around:

The colourful “plaza”, as I mentioned, also holds El Oso y El Madroño, or The Bear and The Strawberry Tree, but I thought adding a picture of it would be too cliche. Moving on.

Something you should definitely do while in Madrid is to hop on a boat in:

  • This huge park called Parque del Buen Retiro.
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Parque del Retiro (Buen Retiro Park). Located on Plaza de la Independencia, 7. Easiest way to get there: Metro. Stop name: Retiro.

When we went it was freezing, but still worth it – you get a great view of the Alfonso XII Monument.

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While in the Park, there’s something absolutely weird that you should see as well:

  • This empty palace. Yes, you read right – there’s a palace called Palacio de Crystal where you enter and you see… nothing.

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I guess the fascinating thing about it is its shape – of a Greek cross and also the fact that it’s made almost entirely of glass.

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Plus, it makes for a few beautiful pictures depending on the trees outside – I’m guessing springtime would be cool too. A Spanish guy told me it’s used for art exhibits, but after seeing the current “art exhibit”, I decided my future visits will be on a “thanks, but no thanks” basis.

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Yes, those are hanging bones. Moooving on. Something that’s not mentioned very often in posts about cool things to see in Madrid is:

  • This statue of a falling angel.
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Address: Calle Milaneses 3, just next to Plaza Mayor.

True, it’s nothing that will blow your mind and make you rethink your life for years to come, but it’s got a nice story and is worth a picture. It’s called “Accidente aéreo” and according to the sculptor, represents a distracted aviator crashing into the building. I’m a sucker for humorous statues, if not much else.

The next place worth seeing is definitely:

  • This awesome temple for watching the sunset and snapping romantic photos to pretend you’re cool on Facebook.
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Templo de Debod. Address: Calle Ferraz, 1. Easiest way to get there: Metro line 3. Stop: Ventura Rodriguez.

You’re not going insane – this is not a picture of a temple. It is, though, a picture of an awesome reflection in the water right next to the Temple of Debod, which was surrounded by an hour-long queue of crazy tourists with nothing better to do than wait for a picture. Don’t get the wrong idea from my naked shoulder – it was freezing. I do stuff for pictures that I wouldn’t even do for food if I was homeless.

One thing I’d never seen anywhere else was something I found in one of the main stations in the city – Atocha train station. It’s:

  • this awesome botanical garden hidden away without even as much of a sign to point you to it.

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Unfortunately, Christmastime in Madrid doesn’t make everything better, because it was full of holiday stands that kind of took away some of the authenticity of the place.

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However, there were turtles, and turtles do make everything better.

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Plus, it still has a very badass look, considering it’s in a train station. Also, as a pigeon-lover I was happy to see tons of them flying around and annoying the hell out of those who don’t particularly enjoy their company as much as I do (Hi, boyfriend!).

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Something I usually recommend no matter where I go is getting on a cable car to see the city from above – I mean come on, who doesn’t love that?

  • This thing (The Teleferico) was not that special though – probably because winter is not nearly as pretty as any of the other seasons. Okay, this “not being direct” thing never works for me: it’s much uglier than any of the other seasons. Still, I took some nice shots.
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View from Teleferico de Madrid. We got on from Paseo del Pintor Rosales, inside the park.

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You can see how the cable cars look like on the left:

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A veeery important tip (that I wish someone had given me): DON’T buy your picture from the nice lady who took it and put a super expensive price on it. After the ride, you’ll get off and you’ll see a queue of people waiting to buy their pictures. Before you get on, they take 3: one where you’re standing up and hugging, one where you’re kissing, and one where you’re… I don’t even remember what, but I had to admit: it was clever marketing when she told us “now kiss”. Anyway, I paid 7 euro for a regular-sized photo of us and the quality was HORRIBLE. I almost went back there to give them a piece of my mind before I remembered that I don’t give a shit. Still: save your money.

All in all, I had a blast sightseeing and spending Christmastime in Madrid this winter, but I’ll definitely come back in a warmer time – I’m guessing spring is beautiful there. But not as beautiful as the bat I was planning to scare that picture-woman with.

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