Madrid: An Easygoing Mix of Old Charm and Modern Nightlife

Hola y bienvenido! My name is Connie Ho and I will be one of the two travel columnists for the New U this quarter. I am currently a fourth-year English major studying abroad in Madrid, Spain for the year. I hope to depict my travels, adventures and new experiences in Spain and to inspire other anteaters to study abroad or visit new regions in the world.

Madrid is an iconic location with historical landmarks all over the city. It is incredibly pedestrian accessible; walking is considered a part of the average Madrileno’s life and many, if not all, Spaniards tend to be on the leaner side.

If you walk from Puerta de Sol, which is the center of the city, you can easily see Plaza Mayor – one of the better-known open areas in Madrid. In the plaza, there is a multitude of people milling along the street, dining al fresco with sangria (a wine mixed with an assortment of fruit) or simply enjoying the night sky.

Apart from historical sights, there is a lot of culture in Madrid. There are three museums within walking distance of one another—the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza that highlight Madrid’s art collections. Together, the museums form a triangle. Within that triangle, is Parque de Retiro, a beautiful park that could rival New York’s Central Park. There are 350 green acres with a lake, statues and water fountains.

Madrid is also known as the capital of European nightlife, with bars not becoming busy until 12 a.m. and club-goers dancing until 6 a.m., some even until 8 a.m. One of the barrios, Chueca, comes alive at night. Chueca is known as the gay district and has a great nightlife full of bars and clubs to visit.

A great location to hang out and relax after a late night of clubbing is the Chocolateria, San Gines, a chocolate store that has been open since 1894. It serves hot chocolate and churros 24 hours a day – a great option for those out late.

It has been a bit of a change to become acclimated to this new schedule. In Spain, I must do as the Spaniards do and engage in the siesta. The siesta generally takes places between 2 – 5 p.m.. Compared to the U.S., life is at a slower place and every moment is meant for true enjoyment.