Hola and happy travel Tuesday! I have finally gotten around to blogging about the second half of the Eurozone trip I took with b-school in May 2013. For a refresher, you can find the first two posts here on my stops in Koblenz and Frankfurt, Germany. After spending the first half of our trip in Germany examining a strong Eurozone economy, we spent the second half in Madrid, Spain, where the economy is currently struggling a bit. Well, we joked that we did our share to help the economy rebound – spending an ample amount on food, drinks and shopping!
Our hotel was conveniently located in a downtown area of the city with many of the best sights within walking distance. I had done a lot of research before the trip and wanted to be sure to hit up the top spots. Our first stop was Il Mercato di San Miguel, literally “the market” filled with aisles upon aisles of vendors selling tasty tapas. We munched on a few dishes and tasted our first sangria in Spain – delicious!
Madrid is also home to the Palacio Real de Madrid. Built in the 1700’s after the previous palace was destroyed, the gorgeous palace housed many of Spain’s monarchs. No pictures were allowed inside, but we did snap this quick shot out front before I was told to climb down from that light post! We also visited the Almudena Catherdral which is right next to the palace. The cathedral was also gorgeous and featured a beautiful cupola in the high ceiling.
I said I did a lot of research before the trip, but one thing I apparently did not research was Spanish geography. I had no idea that Madrid was surrounded by several small mountain ranges! We visited a lot of Spanish banks and companies with gorgeous campuses and amazing vistas of the Spanish countryside/mountains. You can see the snow-capped mountains along the horizon in the picture below. The picture was taken from Torre PWC, one of the Cuatro Torres or “Four Towers” business area with four of the biggest skyscrapers in Madrid. Torre PWC also houses a luxury hotel that pop sensation, One Direction happened to be staying at while we were there. After our visit to PWC there was a huge group of Spanish teenagers waiting out front for a chance to glimpse Harry Styles and crew as they headed to their show that evening.
One of our other business visits took us to the campus of Telefonica, an international telecommunications company and the 6th largest mobile provider in the world. Their campus was uh-maaaazing! State of the art conference rooms, a beautiful fountain and lush green foliage along with the most amazing cafeteria. We had lunch there and enjoyed paella and flan – casual right? Their cafeteria food is the stuff of fancy Spanish restaurants in DC.
The final two stops on my tour of Madrid were located right next to each other: the Real Jardin Botanico and the Prado Museum. The botanical gardens were fairly large and had beautiful greenery and flora. After our walk through the gardens, I visited the Prado. It is one of the big art museums of Europe and features works by Spanish painters Goya and Velazquez in addition to other renowned artists like El Greco and Rembrandt. I really enjoyed walking through the expansive halls of the museum and bought three prints of my favorite paintings to decorate our apartment…that I still need to get framed almost a year and a half later. Oops!
I had a blast in Madrid and felt like there was more than enough to see and do, eat and drink to keep me entertained for days. I definitely hope to return to Spain some day and in the meantime, to finally get those prints framed!