September 25, 2017

My Madrid: Irene’s Love for her Hometown

Irene Citywinks Madrid

Irene knows Madrid in and out!

Born in Madrid, Irene is as Madrileña as they come, but also has a very international background. From studying in a British school to working in New York City, this self proclaimed travel addict loves spending her summers abroad. But, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and her time away from her home city has made her appreciate it even more. As an architect, she loves art and design, and is always on the lookout for new cultural events. Her love for Madrid’s latest trends inspired her to start CityWinks Madrid, where she writes about inspiring people and her favorite places in Madrid. You can also check her out on Twitter where she tweets the latest news about the city @citywinksmadrid.

1. Describe an ideal day of tourism in Madrid:

Well, since I’m writing on a Sunday, I can’t avoid thinking about El Rastro. In fact, I was even there last weekend. It’s Madrid’s most famous flea market, and is really fun because you can find all sorts of  obscure objects, antiques, and vintage clothing, and if you bargain you can find some great deals. Since it stays open until lunchtime, you can continue your afternoon by enjoying some tapas around the La Latina district, there are plenty of choices along Calle de la Cava Baja. If you aren’t too tired, take advantage of your proximity to the Museo de San Isidro, a free museum with an interesting exhibit about the history of Madrid. If you are still out at 8:00 p.m. it is nice to take a quick look inside the San Francisco el Grande Basilica, the most beautiful church in the city with paintings by Goya and Zurbarán. You can then finish your day by admiring the views from Las Vistillas with a stroll towards Ópera and then back to the bustle of Sol.

2. Tell us about a hidden corner in Madrid:

Without any doubt, Madrid fascinates me precisely for its many hidden nooks. Among the options, I’d like  to talk about Ateneo. Located in the famous Barrio de las Letras, you will find Ateneo on Calle Prado, where at number 21 you’ll arrive almost by surprise. If you are in a hurry, its narrow facade is nearly unnoticed, but this building is a private company dedicated to the dissemination of science, art and literature. The cultural agenda is always excellent and once you check it out, I bet you will probably return. The atmosphere is movie-worthy, and its library has been chosen as a backdrop for several films. Membership is required to access all areas, but there are many areas open to the public, such as the portrait gallery and the auditorium. There is also a bar and restaurant where you can enjoy a cozy place to read, have a business lunch or a quiet dinner. It is a great alternative to the many popular mainstream options in this neighborhood.

3. What is your favorite cheap eat and favorite splurge spot?

Lately I’ve been going to La Petisqueira (Calle Churruca, 6), a perfect stop to have a couple of drinks, which always come with a big plate of tapas. It offers good food, a nice atmosphere and cheap prices, and is very well located near the Tribunal metro stop.

My splurge spot could be Teatriz restaurant which is built inside a former theater. There are different areas (restaurant, tapas bar, sushi bar, and cocktail bar).

4. Where do you go shopping in Madrid?

When I go shopping I like to go to Madrid’s different neighborhoods depending on what I’m looking for. Some of my latest discoveries have been Eduardo Rivera (young men’s and women’s fashion designed in Madrid), and the Adolfo Domínguez flagship store. It is always fun to walk around the Malasaña neighborhood, where you will definitely find many cute vintage shops, especially along Velarde street.

5. What’s your favorite museum in Madrid?

It is hard to choose my favorite museum because I like so many. Besides the world renowned museums along the “Triangle of Art” (the Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen), there are other interesting ones too. The last one I visited was Museo Cerralbo, an impressive palace that shows the lifestyle and collections of the Marquis of Cerralbo in the late nineteenth century. It is definitely worth seeing and from there you can easily walk to Templo de Debod or to the Royal Palace and enjoy some of the city’s best sunsets. Museo Sorolla is also very special, since it was the Valencian painter’s house and art studio.

Templo de Debod in Madrid

The Templo de Debod is a great place in Madrid.

6. Give us 3 words to describe Madrileños:

I consider Madrileños to be open-minded, happy and welcoming people.

7. In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit Madrid?

Each time of the year has its own particular charm when visiting Madrid, but, above all, I would recommend spring and fall because of the mild temperatures and busy city life. If you choose to visit in summer or winter, it’s a good opportunity to do some shopping because the sales are great! You might want to leave extra space in your luggage, just in case…

8. What do you consider the best neighborhoods for young people?

Alonso Martínez is good if you like pubs and small discos. Lavapiés is perfect for those who love a multicultural atmosphere. Moncloa is great if you want to experience the university student lifestyle. Tribunal, Malasaña and Conde Duque are the best choice for hipsters and alternative souls.

9. What’s the most annoying thing about Madrid?

The traffic when moving around the city. At first glance, Madrid doesn’t seem to be an especially bike-friendly city but, fortunately, things are improving, little by little. There are more and more pedestrian streets in the center and some bike lanes have been built to connect different parks.

10. Any travel tips for Madrid?

It’s a good idea to save some time to take a day-trip or two to any of the various UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby. Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez, and El Escorial may be outside of the city center but they are still a part of Madrid. Ávila, Segovia and Toledo are also charming, but they are found in nearby provinces. 

Would you agree with Irene’s impressions of Madrileños? Leave a comment if you have a Madrid tip to share!

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