After a few wonderful days in Seville, it was off to some of the coastal towns that dot the southern coast of Spain. First stop was Cadiz. This is a wonderful quaint port town, and one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. In terms of touristy things to do, there are a couple of forts still standing that you can tour. I’d recommend that you walk among the narrow cobblestone streets, and check out the market for some fresh catches of the day. The city itself really only needs a day or two of touring, and then you can continue on your way. Don’t forget to try the Caracoles (snails), a specialty of the area.
My next stop was Malaga for a day, and this is another coastal city that may only need a couple of days. Both cities offer nice beaches so that you can soak up the sun, but for what it’s worth, I really liked the beaches of Portugal much more than Cadiz and Malaga. Those that appreciate the arts should visit the Picasso Museum, the birthplace of the famous artist. The city of Malaga is larger than Cadiz, and has the feeling of a high-end, touristy city that lacks any real character that could easily be left off an itinerary.
From Malaga I made my way inland to Madrid, also skipping over the Alhambra in Granada due to a tight schedule. I gave myself a couple of days to explore Madrid, mainly due to a self-imposed obligation. The city is so large that I felt it needed a couple of days to really give it a fair shot. I found myself on another free tour my first day in the city and got to see all the major sites. Nothing truly wowed me in Madrid, it was a nice place to visit, but now that I’ve been there once I don’t feel a need to go back. If you’re into museums, then Madrid is the place for you. At this point in my trip I wasn’t in the mood to check out the museums, but the Golden Triangle is supposed to be one of the best collections in the world.
On the tour I received some fascinating and appalling statistics about the unemployment situation in Madrid.
- Roughly 25% of the entire workforce are unemployed.
- Roughly 35% of the workforce under the age of 30 are unemployed.
- Roughly 50% of women under the age of 30 are unemployed.
The poor economic outlook is causing a lot of Spain’s top young talent to move elsewhere and compounding the problem. Just about every day you can see a demonstration in or around Puerta del Sol, the Times Square of Madrid if you will.
From a food and drink perspective, there is plenty of wonderful food in Madrid, and I did imbibe in tapas on multiple occasions, mainly at Sideria El Tigre which have a number of outposts throughout the city. With each drink purchase, you’re given a large plate of fried goodies and cured meats, all for ~$5-7.
Not really liking Madrid all too much, I ended up cutting my trip there a day short so that I could head back to Lisbon and spend a few more days soaking up the surf and the sun, on the last leg of my trip. Unfortunately this also meant an uncomfortable overnight bus ride to Lisbon, and then another hour bus ride up to Peniche. The silver lining being that it was the last one I’ll have to take for a long time!