It’s nothing less of magical: Madrid during Christmas. Although we hit a snafu with the museums, we could not have picked a better time to see Spain’s cultured capital.



After reuniting with the rest of the group at the hostel, we were hit with the unexpected hard truth: Not only were the museums in Madrid closed today on Christmas (the listed 10am-6pm “holiday opening hours” in Lonely Planet forgot an unlisted exception for Xmas. . . . Lonely Planet, you misinform once again!!!), but museums are also mostly closed on Mondays. This meant that the famous Prado Museum was off limits to us (we’re scheduled to leave Madrid Monday night on an overnight bus). Devastating.

Nevertheless, the Reina Sofia Gallery (the one that houses my favorite, Picasso’s Guernica) would remain open. We decided to bite the bullet; first world problems.

Surmising that everything else would be closed on Christmas, we went on a self-guided walking tour of the city. We started off at the official city center, Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, which is no more than a square for street artists dressed up as cartoon/movie characters and a central meeting point for all the people in Madrid.


We then headed to legendary Plaza Mayor.

Panorama of Plaza Mayor

Life on Plaza Mayor


And then to sample the delicious market meats and pastries of Mercado de San Miguel:


nom nom nom nom (again)

A pitstop for Spanish chocolate tastings at Chocolateria Valor:

The insurmountable Palacio Real:

The short asian girl crew make up for vertical challenges

Palacio Real just got served.

And Plaza de la Oriente:

...other things get served.


But the best part of Madrid, in my opinion is the life of the city streets:



A massive crowd assembles for a children's Christmas Parade



Plaza de la Puerta del Sol at night

You know that tree in the last picture? This is what it looks like from the belly.


We had enough time to also revisit everything, just to appreciate the differences among these neighborhoods past sunset (which you can see for yourself above).

It’s indisputable: this city breathes magic, as if the streets pulse with the surreal rhythm of its sophisticated people. And they sustain what the city does best: preserving culture while still thriving in a modern world.. If Barcelona is lovely, then Madrid is soulful.

Feliz Navidad.



- At time of posting in Madrid / Cuatro Vientos, it was 9 °C - Humidity: 34% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a


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December 2011