Travel, at least for me, is about trying to discover the daily lives of a country’s people. Let me explain: when I travel, my first thought at the airport is usually that I can’t wait to find out how people live, what they eat, who the inhabitants of the place I am going to really are. What are their customs, and their habits? If I get a way to discover this somewhere off the tourist track, then even better. For instance: where do Madrilenos go for working out? I had the chance to find out during the launch of Bershka’s first men’s sports apparel line — we were invited to the Spanish capital to enjoy 48 hours of sports, green spaces and healthy eating. It was an unusual perspective on Madrid that I really enjoyed, and I actually recommend visiting the city like I did. Here are the sights that really shouldn’t be missing from your to-see list.
Parque Madrid Río
This park is really very special, and deserves a visit even just for its history. Hear this: a few years ago, this was actually a highway, and thanks to an urban regeneration project, it became a wonderful green oasis right in the middle of the city, complete with cycling paths, pine-lined walking pathways, a stream, and areas equipped with fitness machines. Basically, it became an open-air sports center. We were there just as spring was starting, and when we needed a break from the heat, that was not a problem: the park also has lots of kiosks where you can have juices and smoothies, to cool down for a few minutes. I went for a mango, pineapple and strawberry smoothie!
Gymage (Calle de la Luna, 2)
It’s a gym so big one could mistake it for a shopping mall. Its three floors contain, on top of the training rooms, a hotel; a theater for ballet and dance practice; two restaurants, one of which comes with a beautiful terrace; a massage shop; a herbal health store; and a shop selling fitness clothing. It’s definitely a paradise for all fitness lovers! We had a tough crossfit-based training session here, which let us test the new Bershka collection… And also left us exhausted, but pleased with ourselves. The showers and the changing areas were some of the most wonderful and orderly I ever saw.
La Pescadería (Calle de la Ballesta, 32).
Can you think of anything lighter and tastier than a fish platter? This restaurant, in the city center, has a completely fish-based menu. Fish comes in all sorts of preparations, all of which are delicious, and light on the stomach. Our recommendation here is seared salmon with patatas bravas, it was marvelous! And after a day working out, I say we deserved our glass of white 🙂
Parque del Oeste
The second day was still fitness-focused, but concentrated on lighter forms of exercise. A bit of yoga and pilates are an excellent compromise between relaxing and working out. This garden is one of the oldest in the country, during the Civil War it was used as a bunker: remains of the bunker are still visible in some park areas. There are two points of interest other than the green space, here. Debod’s Temple, an incredibly ancient Egyptian temple dating from 2nd century B.C., and the Paseo de Pintor Rosales, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite walks.
Parque del Buen Retiro
The afternoon is also all about green spaces. And where else could we go to get some fresh air, other than to Madrid’s green lung, one of the city’s best attractions? Don’t miss the Estanque Grande, the sweet artificial lake where you can also rent a rowing boat around sunset; the Crystal Palace; the fountain of the Fallen Angel, and the Rosaleda, a rose garden from early 20th century, with a great variety of roses, especially in summer. This is one of my favorite parks in the world, perfect for resting after a weekend working out!
El Imparcial. (Calle Duque de Alba, 4)
Imagine having dinner in a building that used to be the headquarters of a magazine in the 20th century, and picture this building looking almost the same as it did at that time, including walls and floors. It’s a dream! And so is the menu, featuring ceviche, fish and meat tartares, low-temperature cooked dishes, and gluten-free specialties, including a few desserts. It’s an enchanting place to wrap up your 48 hours dedicated to wellness!