My Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Madrid
Hello everyone! Wow, it's been a while since I last wrote. My apologies. I've been a bit busy traveling and showing family around. Life has become so normal and routine (yet still quite adventuresome) that I've had to think a little bit harder about what to write. Since some of you have either just been accepted to teach in Madrid or are seriously considering it, let me share with you some of the outdoor activities I enjoy doing in Madrid, most of which you can do year-round.
1. Playing tennis in Casa de Campo
I had never played tennis before coming to Spain, but I've always enjoyed playing sports. Volleyball is my favorite, but with a busy schedule during the week and often traveling on the weekends, I needed something more flexible. Through the Auxiliares en Madrid Facebook page, I found a tennis trainer advertisement and decided to try it out. I love learning something new and being in the huge park where I can breathe some fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, and get some good exercise at the same time.
2. Reading a book in Retiro
This particular activity doesn't quite work when it's raining or a little too chilly out, but as Spain is primarily sunny and warm, it is something I enjoy doing quite often. The large park has plenty of green space to either lie in the shade or soak up some sun, as well as a few places to enjoy a coffee while you read, if you prefer.
3. Sipping a coffee in Plaza Mayor
To be honest, the food in Plaza Mayor isn't great, but the people watching is amazing! Coffee and people watching are two of my favorite things, and Plaza Mayor provides both. It can be quite amusing to see tourists taking pictures with Fat Spiderman (yes, that's an actual character who frequents the plaza), the headless captain, or a myriad of other people dressed up in hopes of earning some money through photos. It's also fun to try to guess who is from what country based on how they are dressed or what language you think they are speaking.
4. Riding a bike along the river
No worries, there are plenty of places to rent a bike for a reasonable price here in Madrid, since many of you probably won't be trying to haul yours over from the states. After successfully renting your bike, you can hop on the lovely path that goes along the river, with a view of the palace and cathedral. This path also leads into Casa de Campo, if you're interested in some different paths with more hills.
5. Hiking in the mountains
If you are under 25, your transportation card can get you to the mountains surrounding Madrid for free (well, included in the 20 euros a month you pay for the card). If you are over 25 or just visiting Madrid, the mountains are about an hour and some pocket change away. So far, I've been to the Cercedilla and La Pedriza areas, both a few times each. My favorite part about hiking here is being out in nature (away from the city buildings, traffic, and noise), enjoying the beautiful views the mountains have to offer, and spending time with the friends I'm hiking with.
Of course, there are also plenty of places to go for a run, window shop, etc., but I decided to stick with my top 5. You can figure out your own top 5 once you arrive and explore the city for yourself, but here's a place to start. =)