What to do in Madrid, Spain

What to do in Madrid, Spain
(Plaza España Sevilla)

España : Para Viajar Es Vivir 

The trip to Spain started to evolve during my volunteer experience in the WTA Finals Singapore 2016. WTA Finals is the last tournament of the year and features the top 8 women’s players in the world. My sister and I met with Spanish number 1 player Garbiñe Muguruza after her practice and because unlike most of the players who would just ignore waiting fans, she signed and took photos with all who waited for her. A reason to root for, a wonderful experience. Then, we began looking into the tennis calendar of 2017 and Mutua Madrid caught my attention. It is an outdoor clay competition composed of ATP and WTA players. Also, I have been a Rafa Nadal fan since 2008 and only ever rooted for him. I was very excited to see him play after all those years. Let's go!

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts Booking.com for reasonable prices.


Our first stop was Madrid, where the tennis tournament was held. On the 5th of May, my sister and I made our way to the Caja Majica, the venue of the Mutua Madrid Open. Official games have not yet started, only qualifiers and players practices. I did not expect to see much that day since there was still no schedule of play. To my utmost surprise, I saw Rafa practicing with his two coaches, Toni Nadal and Carlos Moya.

My heart skipped a beat. If I’m honest, that moment was what dreams are made of. I have always been a Rafa fan and to be able to see him was just unbelievable. A memory I will keep forever. After his practice session was over, I went to the front and approached him for a photo. He said “Sure!” Smiled and then walked away. I was the only fan who had a photo with him because his team had to rush off the court. After all, another player practice was scheduled in that court. Believe me, if I say my trip was complete even with just 5 hours in. I was the happiest fan in the universe. Nothing can compare.

Running the El Retiro Park

The following morning, part of my itinerary was a running session with my sister. We lived just a few kilometres from El Retiro Park. At 8am when the sun was rising, we went out for one of the coldest and most memorable runs of our lives. In Singapore, we run at 33-degree weather, here it was 9 degrees. What a drop. We were freezing at the start so we had to increase the pace just to increase body temperature. We enjoyed running faster without losing stamina and running longer. The park was very beautiful and looked very peaceful in the morning. We ended our run at La Mallorquina, one of the most popular breakfast places in Madrid. It was bustling with people and the pastry smelled so good.

We ordered a simple ham and cheese croissant “y para bebidas chocalate para mi y un cafe con leche para mi hermana”. My sister and I learned a bit of Spanish before coming here and helped us a lot in ordering food, getting directions, getting opening hours and information about places and activities. Although majority of the people can speak English, there were a lot of instances when people replied to us only in Spanish.

In the afternoon, we made our way to the Vicente Calderon Stadium, home of Atletico Madrid. Watching European football live was also on my list and the passion and dedication of Europeans towards football is unparalleled. The home team won against SD Eibar. The environment in the stadium when Atletico scored a goal was phenomenal. Everybody was jumping up and down, chanting and high flying. Since the goal, it was just really strong good vibes from there. #NoLoPuedenEntender

Walls Outside of Avila

On the 7th, we took a road trip to Avila and Segovia. A little over 100 kms from the city center of Madrid were the high and medieval walls of Avila, Spain. Spain is full of preserved architectural history. It is wealthy of monuments, castles, cathedrals and convents. It’s as if time stood still. I couldn't stop admiring the striking features of the stonework. It is pure awesome.

Roman Aqueduct Segovia

A few days of watching Tennis and being based in Madrid, we moved south to stunning Andalusia. Southern Spain has a Moorish background showcased in their art, design, food and music.

Plaza España Sevilla

Seville is known for its flamenco dance

I’ve also noticed Spain has a lot of very talented and professional street performers. When I say professional, musicians on the street produce their own CD and sell it people passing by. They sound incredibly good live.


We also toured around the best nature backdrops we’ve ever seen in Ronda and Cordoba. Completely breathtaking places worth coming back to. No wonder Spain is a favourite filming location for game of thrones.

Last stop would be Barcelona. We didn’t put much on the itinerary so we could have more relaxing time. I don’t know but when I think of Barcelona, I imagine the beaches, the seafood and the laid back culture. We weren’t disappointed.

Free Street Food

Just as we arrived, there was a festival happening outside our door. We jumped right away to the queue serving free Migas! Migas in Spanish means bread crumbs. It doesn’t necessarily have an exact formula. They say the recipe depends on the region. It contains day-old bread, garlic, olive oil, spinach, jalapeño and chorizo. It seemed like a fitting welcome to Barcelona dish.

Of course, we could not miss the seafood. The best way to eat fresh seafood is by the sea! Bright and early, we took the metro to Barceloneta. Barceloneta is the starting point to about 10kms of shoreline. 

So after we ate our usual breakfast tortilla di patata and drank cafe con leche, we ran by the shoreline. One of the things I loved and will surely miss about Barcelona is the perfect running weather: sunny but cool.

Then come lunchtime, the best paella and seafood tapas I’ve had was in a restaurant called Escriba.

You will never run out of things to do in Spain. From day trips to historical places to the art and music, to the food, to the shopping places and triathlete training haven, one cannot seem to have enough time for everything that’s why memories made here will always be treasured. The people are very kind and friendly. Although my Español is bad, they seem to still smile and be patient in answering me.

Spain, you did it. You’ve made a print in my heart. No one else can replace it. Viva España!

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
Here is a Compilation of all my thrilling escapades over the past few years. Perhaps it's time to revisit your own bucket list and make some progress towards achieving your goals.

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