|View of Placa Espanya from Mont Juic|
Madrid is interesting…I couldn’t seem to brainstorm any one landmark I wanted to see before I left. Nothing that was world-renowned, infamous, or plastered all over tourist brochures. Don’t get me wrong, Madrid is beautiful and green unlike a lot of Spain, and I constantly felt like I was walking in a Pedro Almodóvar film (minus the transvestites and Penelope Cruz). But it lacked the great presentation and majesty that places in Barcelona like La Sagrada Familia and Montjuic OOZED. If I’m totally honest, Madrid really did not stand a chance in this category seeing as the view of Plaza Espanya from the top of Montjuic was my favorite view in all of Europe.
Nightlife: Madrid (Tough one!)
|A couple of floors in Kapital|
Well seeing as I had an acute obsession with Cirque du Soleil a couple years back, and the nightclub Kapital in Madrid catered to just that, Madrid came in with the win on this one. Kapital is nuts. 7 stories tall with a distinct atmosphere on each floor and music for every taste. About every hour they had circus-like performers come to the middle of the dance floor to show their stuff--I looooooved it! The top floor was actually more like a classy all white lounge with minimal music, while the main floor was deafening with grotesquely dressed dancers on private platforms. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the friggin JET of cold air that they blasted on the whole floor every 5 minutes!!! It literally only lasted for 3 seconds but every time I screamed bloody murder but started laughing once I realized I was scared of air. Sorry, it still always surprised me!!! It did cost 20 euro to get in but I had a blast and thought it was absolutely worth it. Barcelona has an awesome night scene too—their beaches are lined with clubs that project their lights onto the Mediterranean and invite you to take a break from your sweaty dancing to take a walk on the beach. But I suspect that this is not unlike the night scene you could find in Miami or other US cities along the coast, so Madrid wins this one!
|Parque de Retiro|
Comparing Park Guell in Barcelona to el Parque de Retiro in Madrid truly is like comparing apples to oranges. The former is like Candyland for the aesthetically-driven person with exceptional Gaudi art around every corner. Alternatively the latter is a big green paradise whose atmosphere and warmth I can only compare to falling asleep in a pile of fresh-from-the-dryer towels. Parque de Retiro had a million shaded paths with sunlight peeking through the foliage, perfect for either a leisurely stroll or a heart-pumping run. Additionally throughout it had small clearings with statues and fountains and flowerbeds. And in the middle of it all was the huuuuuge lake, that just emerged out of no where in our stroll around. It was beyond precious. On this warm day the lake was abundant with groups of people taking advantage of the reasonably priced row boat rental. The lake is surrounded with statues of water nymphs and other creatures, with people taking the opportunity to feel the coolness of the lake by lying alongside it. Brittany and I followed suit, and I had never slept so comfortable on a set of concrete stairs. It very well could have been my favorite part of Madrid next to Kapital, but it still was not enough to completely occupy my mind and make me forget about Park Guell and Barcelona!
Art Museums: Barcelona
Well I didn’t visit El Prado like everyone in Madrid does, but quite frankly I had heard such lackluster reviews about it, it did not seem like it would be worth my time. Instead we visited Museo Reina Sofia, which sated my appetite for Picasso art, or so I thought. The museum itself was pretty confusing, Brittany and I wandered down many outdoor passageways and blank art exhibits before we finally found the one corner of the colossal building that had the Picasso art. The collection was very humble, in my opinion. The highlight was definitely seeing “Guernica” and all the sketches leading up to this final product. When I went back to Barcelona during my final week I got the chance to visit their Picasso Museum, and that filled me up with all the Picasso knowledge I could ever hope for. The pieces in this museum spanned all the way back to Picasso’s childhood. It’s so STRANGE looking at his early art, most notably that it is REALISTIC art. Haha I didn’t know that a time existed where Picasso didn’t use purely abstract shapes. So that was super neat. Oh and get this! Picasso even had one pointillist piece!!! Ahahah so that might have been my favorite and is getting me brainstorming of what the next stippling piece I wanna make should be... Overall it was a super impressive museum and despite it not having art from every era of Picasso, it had information about his whole life which I found to be endlessly fascinating.
If anything Barcelona gets the upper hand because they have outlawed these expositions altogether. Madrid, on the other hand, hosts at least one bull fight a weekend. 6 bulls getting slaughtered a weekend. Over 300 a year. Yeah, I get it, the bullfight is an integral part of Spanish culture, and that’s why I wanted so badly to go see one. But DAMN is it hard to watch, especially seeing that first bull collapse to the ground, motionless. Or even worse, to see it collapse and shudder for a minute, fighting for it’s last breaths. Man. And to make matters even worse, once the bull is dead they tie him up to the back of a carriage and drag his body out of the arena, leaving a trail of dusty blood behind. It’s a rough thing to see…but I am glad that I got to see it firsthand and make a decision based on that. Also I have to admit that when the first matador went out to fight the bull and was taken down, I was secretly cheering for the bull. And by secretly I mean I yelled 'GET EM! GET EMMM!' when the man was knocked to the ground, scrambling for his life. Oh I also want to make note of the fact that I adore all of the costumes.
No one does tapas like Andalusia so neither Madrid nor Barcelona win this category, lol.
Stadium: Camp Nou (Barcelona)There is something about the atmosphere surrounding Camp Nou…maybe it’s the narrow Spanish streets or maybe it’s the various pubs that border it. In either case I am convinced there is some sort of chemical in the air that arouses excitement and adrenaline for soccer… The fans are full of pride, beaming as they finish off their tubo of beer. Then, once you step inside it’s nonstop mayhem. Give it a few minutes and let Messi score and the chaos only intensifies. MESSSSSI MESSSSSSSI MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSI. Only bad part about the stadium: they sell no alcohol! Madrid's statdium, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is definitely larger and does have the practical overhanging roof (which kept us completely dry while all the fools in the front rows got soaked), but it is a colder atmosphere and lacks the extra umph that Nou has.
Sick Ass Player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Cristiano Ronaldo is a wimpy ass, albeit GOOD looking, but mediocre at soccer douche. He didn't even play in the game we went to. My guess it that the rain would ruin his hair gel and he was not going to have that. RUDE. He does have some sick foot skills but they pale in comparison to MESSI! Messi is the sweetest, cutest, most generous, most skilled, quickest, most humble, CUTE CUTE CUTEST, (HE SWAM WITH DOLPHINS) soccer player. I hope these descriptions accurately express my sentiments toward each player.
Team as a whole: Barcelona
They play as a cohesive unit. They one touch the ball like no other team I've ever seen. I think I have yet to see them mis-touch a ball--their first touch is impeccable. They play with patience and wait for opportunities to send their attackers. They are successfull as shit, winning the recent Championship over Manchester :) Real Madrid is so detached from each other. They have players who are individually super talented but they don't know how to put it together. Oh, and ever since I saw Casillas whiff to let in a goal I cannot look at him the same way. NO, he is not allowed to make an amateur mistake like that. He should have been super human. So that's that. No good, Real Madrid, no good.
After some reflecting, it appears that my decision to claim Barcelona as the winner is heavily influenced by the distinctions between the soccer teams. I see nothing wrong with this and I stand by my decision completely.