Trip on a Jet Tank: No bullfight required

Oct. 31, 2013
Clockwise from top left: Art is everywhere, even hiding behind a building and trees; the street is empty in Madrid during siesta; tourists are going into the Museo Del Prado; the Reina Sofia Museum has a glass elevator on the side; in Madrid, it is possible to take the Metro; there are even statues on top of rooves in Madrid; architecture in Madrid is full of surprises such as this building with an intricate door; people gather around the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statues in Madrid.
Photos courtesy of Tyler O’Neil
Molly O’Neil

My trip to Madrid and Seville, Spain, was full of excitement from beginning to end, and not once did I go to a bullfight, the so-called “must-see” attraction.

Madrid will have you seeing double with the amount of plazas, museums, parks, restaurants, theaters, shops, and markets in the area. It has so many attractions that you can’t possibly cover the whole city in one day. Luckily, you can narrow down your search by planning to spend more time in one geographic location.

A plaza that is not to miss is Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is a public square with street performers, shops, and a statue of King Philip III in the middle.

A crowded place might make people change their minds about traveling there, especially since Madrid is infamous for the amount of pickpockets. That doesn’t bother me, rather, it reinforces the idea that it is a busy city full of life (and crime) like any urban area.

My family spent the most time in Plaza Mayor probably because we ate dinner there at one of its many restaurants. If you want to eat dinner there, a restaurant to drop by would be El Sorino Del Botin ( It is known as one of the oldest restaurants because it was founded in 1725. You should get a reservation because people living in Madrid eat there as well.

The food that I suggest for people to eat at any restaurant is paella. Be aware that paella takes about an hour for restaurants to cook so make sure you have time.

Paella is a traditional rice dish. It varies from place to place, so the taste of it can be different depending on the city. Rice in paella can be white or yellow, the seafood pieces can be crab or prawn, and the platter can be a plate or pot. It reminds me of gumbo.

Along with paella, try some Spanish olive oil. Spain has great olive oil, which is often overshadowed by those from Italy. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the two, but Spaniards swear that their olive oil is better.

The next place to visit would be El Rastro, but only on Sundays and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

El Rastro is one of the world’s oldest flea markets. This open-air market is in the Plaza de Cascorro. When you see the clothing and strange assortment of souvenirs, you’ve reached your destination.

The Spaniards love Christopher Columbus, or Cristobal Colón, with everything imaginable named after him. A noteworthy memorial to Columbus is in the Plaza de Colón, where a statue of him is on a pedestal that makes the monument 56 feet tall.

The beauty of Spanish artwork doesn’t end at their architecture of founders of the New World. El Prado ( is an art museum with pieces done by Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, and many more famous painters.

My favorite painting in El Prado was “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch. It is a three-paneled painting that illustrates Creation with a mixture of people, animals, and distorted shapes.

If you want to see something that is a little more traditional in El Prado, perhaps you should take a look at “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez. This 17th century painting is of the royal daughter of Filipe IV, Margaret Theresa. The scene is of the daughter being surrounded by servants in Alcazar.

A general admission ticket to El Prado is 14 euros.

If the hustle and bustle of Madrid isn’t for you, maybe a relaxing getaway to Seville is more suitable.

The architecture in the city is from 2,200 years ago with a mix in style of Moorish and Spanish influence. Alcazar is the oldest royal palace and is still used for special royal occasions ( You can join a walking tour of the palace for about three hours and 8.75 euros, but the lines are long because everyone wants to see it.

Guitar players, singers, and flamenco dancers join in Seville in order to put on a great show. For people who are unfamiliar with flamenco dancing, it is a lot of stomping of feet and music from the guitar players and singers. The dance can seem repetitive at times with all of the stomping, but the dancing time is shorter than an average performance. The flamenco shows last only about an hour for the price of 20 euros (

The best part about Seville is it is a place where you can sit back and watch things without going far. The locals take life easy with tapas and wine, which is exactly what you should do. I personally liked Seville much more than Madrid.

So pack up your bags and go to Spain because you won’t regret it, even if you do skip the bullfights.

If you really want to see a bullfight, then you can go to Las Ventas bullring in Madrid.

Las Ventas ( and other bullfighting rings start their fights around 7 p.m. and end two or three hours later. The price of tickets ranges from 2 euros to more than 100 euros. The seats in the shade are more expensive than the ones in the sun.

Something to keep track of in Spain is the time. From 2:30 to 5 p.m., shops and restaurants can close during the late afternoon for the siesta.

Another possible problem you could run into in Spain is the language difference; most Spaniards don’t understand English very well. You could try to learn the language through an iPhone, Adroid, or a Spanish to English dictionary. The Spanish basics that you possibly learned in high school will finally be useful if you remember them.

A trip to Spain is sure to be a fun time.

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