By Dr. Mike Tremba
I love to travel. Whether I’m heading down the all-too-familiar to visit friends and family around the holidays, or jetting somewhere exotic and previously unexplored—at least by me— there’s a rush unlike any other to be found in leaving my home base and ending up somewhere completely different. For me, one of the best parts of going on a trip is mapping out the details beforehand. Honestly, I’d consider planning a trip a close second to actually heading out on one.
You’re a traveler; I don’t have to preach to the choir here. You love researching new locations and mapping out destinations almost as much as you love handing your passport over at customs and stepping off a plane on foreign ground.
Recently, a few friends and I were discussing travel destinations. I mentioned Madrid, Spain—somewhere I hadn’t yet been, and knew very little about—and one of my friends shrugged and bluntly said, “Madrid—what’s the big deal?”
It got me thinking. What was the big deal about Madrid? Why had I heard so much about this elusive city, yet never been there—never even taken the time to research what it had to offer to a traveler like me?
Instead of feeding into my friend’s lackadaisical travel ‘tude, I decided to do some digging. Come to find out, Madrid is pretty darn cool.
For starters, it’s the capital of Spain. That in and of itself might not interest you, but consider what does that means for you as a traveler. Just think about what our nation’s capital—Washington D.C.—and what it has to offer foreign tourists. Internationals don’t just flock there because it’s convenient; it offers a spectral sample of American life.
Madrid is no different. It’s the cultural, economic and historical hub of Spain, offering a sampling of the country’s lush history and culture.
For instance, in central Madrid there’s what’s called the Golden Triangle of Art. This nickname was coined in reference to the three renowned art museums— the Prado Museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum—located in close proximity to each other in the center of the city.
The Prado Museum and Museo Nacional Cetro de Arte Reina Sofia are Spanish national museums in which tourists and locals alike can find an ever-changing gallery of pre-20th (at the Prado) and 20th (in the Reina Sofia) century art, as well as timeless permanent collections. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, on the other hand, is a privately owned establishment which juxtaposes collections pre-dating history with contemporary work.
Madrid isn’t all art and museums, though. From the city, you can connect with some of the infamous Spanish wine routes. Either via guided tour on in your own vehicle (good news—you still drive on the right side of the road in Spain!), you can enjoy two of Spain’s 15 world-class wine tours.
The La Mancha wine route, most closely accessible from Madrid, leads you through the world’s most extensive wine-growing region. Perhaps the name itself rings a bell? Not surprising. Don Quixote, the eccentric hero of the musical Man of La Mancha, fought windmills in this very region. So if you don’t go for the wine, at least go for the “giants”!
The next-closest wine route to Madrid is the Uteil-Requena route, which brings you through ten small villages, mountainous vistas and lush fields, while sampling the region’s exquisite wine history along the way. Over 2,500 years of history, to be precise. But who’s counting?
Spain takes wine very seriously. In fact, it’s generally reserved for afternoon meals, when it can be appreciated as a palate-enhancer and paired thoughtfully with foods. It’s also usually found on the dinner table, but rarely—if ever—do you find it served in bars or night clubs.
But that’s not to say Madrid doesn’t know how to party. In fact, it’s a city seemingly designed for night owls. I think it’s safe to say you can’t call yourself a lover of the nightlife until you’ve gone out in Madrid.
You see, the standard time for dinner in Spain is around 9pm. Single people, families, old folks and children all sit down for their final meal of the day around the time Americans are slipping into their flannel pajamas and flipping on reality TV.
So, a casual meal and straight to bed? You’re still going to be out on the town until about 11pm. Going out for a drink with friends? I wouldn’t promise anyone you’ll return sooner than 1am.
And if you want to go really hog-wild, you have nearly unlimited options—from clubs, to bars, quiet lounges to outrageous raves—I doubt you’ll want to head back to the hotel before the sun comes up. Madrid is a fantasy destination for college-age partiers, 30-something singles and middle-aged hipsters and retired folks alike, so whoever you are, you’re guaranteed to find a niche party spot to satiate your need for excitement.
So, what is the big deal about Madrid? It’s a great question. I really have to hand it to my friend—because there’s not just one “big deal;” from what I can tell, there’s an endless list of big deals. Wining and dining, art, history, relaxation and excitement. Of course, there’s always a down side—albeit a minimal one. If you’re not a fan of flying, getting there could be stressful. International airfare is rarely what anyone would deem cheap. While Spanish is one of the most popular languages in America—more utilized than English in many regions of the country—for those of us who aren’t bilingual, running into a language barrier while traveling abroad is also a legitimate fear.
But that’s just part of the adventure. And if you’re going to go on a real vacation, you need to be prepared to shell out a decent amount of money to make it worthwhile. So, if you’re willing to make the financial commitment, I don’t see why you wouldn’t put Madrid on your list of future destinations. I know I’m going to.
Of course, in the end, it’s up to you. Go on an unforgettable trek to an international hub of romance, culture, art, food, music and fun, or gripe to your friends about how you don’t get what the “big deal” is.
Sounds like a no-brainer to me…
About Dr. Mike Tremba
Dr. Mike Tremba is a successful Internet Publisher, Speaker and Guest Blogger. He enjoys sharing his experience to help more people achieve success. He is convinced that giving more always results in receiving more, and motivated by this philosophy. Dr. Mike enjoys helping others with their weight-loss journeys through Isabel Rios’ Diet Solution Program, as well as The Truth About Abs by Mike Geary. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, reading, exercising, and time on the beach with his wonderful wife Shari.