Madrid is truly memorable because of the people I met and the experiences shared along the way. The reason we travel is not just about the places but it is about the people. Only so much can be learnt from a guidebook, such as the history of a country. To know a city more intimately, it is best to talk to those who know it best. The people.
At a small Tapas Bar near the hotel we met for a glass of sangria to reminisce memories of our Spanish tour. It was here where we met the owner Salvatore and his wife, a lovely couple who told us all about Madrid and other local stories. We were invited back the next day after our curiosity over their home-made paella. So we did return for lunch and true to their word, made us home-made paella. It was delicious and very filling. They were happy to have made it for us as we talked over lunch. These are the moments you remember on visits to another city. We learnt a lot in our conversation with Salvatore and his wife. Talking to the locals about their own city provides us with a more enriching travel experience.
A trip to Madrid is not complete without a stop at the Prado museum. However, you don’t need to pay full price. Simply wait till 6pm and you can enter for free up until closing time. The only catch is that closing time is at 8pm, so with a short window of opportunity and the fact that the museum is huge you will need to plan exactly what you want to see and go straight there. Because the museum has free entry at 6pm, other people have the same idea so be sure to arrive early to ensure that you get in with time to see the list of exhibits you plan to visit.
Some of the highlights on my visit to the Prado were to see paintings by El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt and Rubens. There is also a second Mona Lisa that reflects a more feminine look of the original painting in the Louvre in Paris. It is said that perhaps this version was painted by either a muse or student of Leonardo de Vinci. So having had the opportunity to view both paintings, I almost prefer the more feminine looking Mona Lisa.
Upon exiting the museum, we were fortunate to come across a wedding as the weeding party entered the church nearby. It was a beautiful moment to watch as we sat and took in the atmosphere around us. It is not everyday one gets to see a wedding take place on holiday. However, these moments make the journey more special and it is something we often overlook when on holiday. Quite often we are focused on rushing to the next attraction and we don’t see and experience the real city that we have travelled all the way across the globe for. This was a memorable moment that will be remembered even though we will never know who the newlyweds were.
To experience the wonders of the Prado Museum and Madrid with great new friends made the journey more memorable. The reason we travel is not just about the places, it is also about the people we meet along the way.