One of my favorite cities in the world is Madrid. There is just something beautiful about this royal city – a nice blend of culture, fashion, religion, and the grittiness of its streets. For me, a non-Spanish speaker, Madrid is at once alluring and inaccessible, bustling, but relaxed. It’s a city that I have only been to twice, yet I feel like I know parts of it quite intimately (a very, very small part of the city) and I look forward to discovering more about it.

My friend Keith and I arrived into Madrid on May 23rd, and we stayed at the Hotel de las Letras on Gran Via. This is a wonderful jewel box of a hotel with great views of the city if you are lucky enough to get a room on the upper floors. Madrid doesn’t strike me as a particularly tall city, and so we had quite beautiful views even only on the 6th floor (which is the highest).

One of the reasons I really enjoy Madrid is the cosmopolitan sense of the city, which for me is quite similar to New York, London, and Paris. Madrileños are chic and they know it. The shopping in Madrid is top notch and there are many neighborhoods with boutiques from the top designers in the world, as well as more local stores. For obvious reasons, I did not (could not) shop haha.

However, what’s fantastic about Madrid is that it really doesn’t cost much to have a good time. The streets are living theatre and one can spend hours just roaming around, visiting churches, admiring the architecture, and relaxing in one of the many parks and gardens sprinkled throughout the city.

Some of the highlights from my trip to Madrid include a concert with countertenor, Gabriel Diaz, a stroll through the Prado to see masterworks by Velasquez, Goya, and Zurbarán, and a visit to the Real Basílica San Francisco el Grande, whose attached monastery was supposedly founded by St. Francis of Assisi himself in 1217.

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