Most students who choose to study abroad in Madrid fall in love with the city. The name Madrid means ‘place of many streams’ although today ‘place of many trees’ seems more appropriate with the city streets lined with trees and parks. The city has more cloudless days than any other city in Europe and was named by Monocle magazine as the 10th most livable city in the world in 2010. Here are 5 Facts that may help sway you decision to study abroad Madrid.
1. Eat At The World’s Oldest Restaurant
It’s a big claim but backed up by the Guinness Book of Records. Restaurante Botin was established in 1725 and apparently Goya used to wash dishes here when he was a struggling artist. Writers Frederick Forsyth, James A Michener and Ernest Hemingway have referenced Botin in their novels and Hemingway attempted to cook paella in the kitchen, but not very successfully. Suckling pig and roasted lamb are the signature dishes.
2. You Can Go Boating and Canoeing
On one of those reputed cloudless days, why not rent a boat and soak up the sights from the middle of a lake in beautiful Retiro Park? Situated in the center of the city behind the Prado museum, the park is massive. If canoeing is more your style, the nearby Casa de Campo park has facilities. If the weather is poor, or too hot, check out the temperature-controlled Atocha Railway Station that has an indoor garden and hothouse with more than 500 plant species. You might even spot a turtle.
3. Sick of Football? Try the Madrid Marathon or Cycling
FIFA named Real Madrid the best football team of the 20th century but something you may not know about Madrid is its popular marathon. Known as Mapoma, the race is held in April and ranked in the Silver Road Race category. Because Madrid is located at an altitude of 2,300 feet, the race is tough but the beautiful scenery takes away some of the pain. In case you were interested, cities with Gold Road Race status include New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Xiamen and Beijing. There’s an extensive bike lane for cycling enthusiasts that winds past the Paseo de los Sentidos, Promenade of the Senses. That’s got to be worth it!
4. Enjoy the Sunset
Madrid is known for its spectacular sunsets. One of the best places to watch the changing hues is Debod Temple or Egyptian Temple brought to Madrid from the Nile. From this spot, you can get some Egyptian history, watch the sunset and marvel at four city skyscrapers that dominate the skyline in a new business park. The tallest is Cajamadrid Tower designed by British architect Norman Foster. On the subject of architecture, Madrid has an incredible airport that’s worth a look even if you’re not flying.
5. 24 Hour City
If you want to stay out all night, Madrid is the city for you. After the repressive Franco years, Madrid embraced its newfound freedom with a cultural movement known as la movida. Like most international cities, there’s a range of cultural activities on offer. Just be careful drinking alcohol on the streets. Years ago, it became popular for younger people to buy alcohol from the liquor store and drink with friends in popular public locations because it was cheaper than drinking in bars. Heavy fines are now imposed.
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