It’s a Spanish affair with Korean Air~~~

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(Entry is written for Korean Air Southeast Asia Blogging Competition)

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While most major cities in Europe are remembered by their iconic landmarks, people usually take a moment longer to decide on what Madrid is most famous for. Unlike the Eiffel Tower of Paris and the Tower Bridge of London, Madrid don’t exactly have that one thing to offer. In fact, it has plenty. This landlocked capital of Spain is not only home to many famous art collections; it also has a vibrant nightlife. Adding on, it also houses the richest football club and remains as one of the few major cities where lethal bullfighting is still practiced.

SEE

The Golden Triangle of Art features 3 art museums, with Prado Museum being the biggest and most famous one. It features a wide collection of more than 20,000 pieces of European art, of which many had been previously owned by the Spanish royal family. Spend your day unleashing your imagination while looking at the masterpieces of famous Spanish painters including Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez and many more.

If you are keen for more, you can continue your art escapade to the other two museums, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofia Museum; both located within its vicinity.

WATCH

 photo spainbullfight_zpsf9610e06.jpgBullfighting has been a disputable sport for animal activists. While there’s a strong lobby against this cruel activity, there’s an equally passionate half which believes that it is culturally important to continue this tradition. The careful strides and hand gestures made by the toreros (bullfighter) is able to anger the bull so skilfully in exchange for cheers in the crowd. Plaza de Toros Las Ventas is one of the oldest and most prestigious bullring, and for a minimal fee of 4 euros, you can be part of the 25,000 crowd. Matches take place in the evening during the season which lasts from March till December. This activity is definitely not for the fainthearted as you will have to witness the death of 6 bulls during this approximately 150 minutes activity.

If you’re not fancy on watching bull fighting, you can otherwise spend your time visiting the world’s richest football club – Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Being the winner of 9 European Cups, they are inarguable the best team of this century. The stadium tour, at 19€, is the best option available and you will find yourselves weaving through the magnificent 80,000 capacity stadium, walking through the paths legendary stars like Beckham, Zidane, Raul and Ronaldo have ventured. If you’re a soccer fanatic, you can try your luck on getting tickets to watch a match inside the stadium. It won’t be easy but no harm trying!

If outdoor isn’t your cup of tea, you can spend the time watching a Flamenco Show. Originating from Andalusia (southern Spain), this lively music (mainly played by Spanish guitar) and rhythmic dance plays remains as an important and uniquely Spanish tradition. Tapas and dinner options are often available in performance venues and these amazing performers will guarantee to make your money worthwhile!

SHOP

Metropolis (along Gran Via) Designed by French architects. Crowned with bronze figure of Winged Victory. photo 391428_10151117757351209_2010390939_n.jpg

Walking down Grand Via road and you will be greeted by familiar and renounced Spanish labels like Zara, Mango, Desigual, Springfield etc. (After travelling in Europe for a month, I discovered that the Spanish brands are indeed the cheapest in Spain! However, you might not be able to find that particular design anymore as they practice fast fashion trends.)

For more luxurious brands such as Hermes, Gucci, Chanel etc , visit the Ortega y Gasset St. and you would definitely be spoilt for choices.

EAT

 photo FoodinMadrid_zpsaf15e82e.jpgTapas is referred to as small appetizers which people eat alongside with alcohol and this culture actually originated from a royalty which recovered from his illness by eating Tapas! Today, people practice eating Tapas so that they will not drink on an empty stomach.

One place that you should not miss out would be the St Miguel Market (near Plaza Mayor). Inside, you can feast on a wide selection of Tapas ranging from seafood, bread biscuits, paella and even frozen yogurt.

NIGHTLIFE

You can start your night by joining one of those pub crawls where guides bring you to various tapas and cocktail pubs, bars or clubs, trying out different liquor and tapas each place has to offer. The end of the tour is usually just the beginning of the real thing. Around the Puerta del Sol area, you can check out the various options which cater to different audiences. Let your hair down and party like a madrilenos!

AND BEYOND

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If your schedule permits, you should hop on a renfe train which brings you to the second most visited city of Spain – Barcelona. With the heavy influenced by Gaudi’s art, this city is indeed a living piece of art. With his inspiration from the Gothic art and together his concept of modernism, he designed several masterpieces, including the yet to be finished Sagrada Familia.

Interesting information about SPAIN

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  • Spain royal line is second longest (to Japan) and its current king, Juan Carlos is a descendant of many European leaders which includes United Kingdom, France, Rome.
  • Spain had been ruled by a dictator, Francisco Franco, for 40 years (1936-1975).
  • Spanish royalty (Isabella I & Ferdinand II) sponsored the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus, which led to the discovery of america.
  • With the marriage of  Isabella and Ferdinand, rulers of Aragon and Castile, Spain emerged as a unified country,Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
  • Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
    Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain, similar to the one used in Latin America. Apart from that, they also have co-languages like the Catalan, Basque, Valencian, Galician, Aranese, and several unofficial languages.
  • Spain is divided into more than 10 autonomous region (Similar to the states of USA).
  • Spain had once been ruled by the Romans, Muslims and French.
  • The bear and the Madrono tree is an iconic symbol in Madrid at Puerta del Sol. It is believed that the bears used to live in this area prior to urbanization. This symbol can be dated back to the 13th century where there was some dispute between the land. This symbol is also used in their coat of arms and as a city shield.

Madrid's Jumping BearBronze Statue of bear jumping up at an arbutus (wild strawberry) tree. The bear is female and it represents the fertility of the land around Madrid, while the tree represents the aristocracy, who traditionally owned everythin photo 561248_10151117755466209_927020770_n.jpg

Korean Air flies to Madrid from Incheon, Seoul 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

It is a 13 hours direct flight and Madrid can be your starting point for your entire Europe adventure!!

What are you waiting for?

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