Why I’d have another Helsinki city break

As someone who errs towards a degree of shabby chic when choosing city break destinations, I wasn’t sure how good a match me and Helsinki would be.

I needn’t have worried. Helsinki managed that brilliant trick of balancing “everything just works”, without being glossed and polished to within an inch of its life. Here’s why I would happily return to Helsinki for city break round two!

Helsinki’s urban planning and infrastructure

I’d like to borrow some of Helsinki’s urban planners, please!

OK, so Helsinki doesn’t have the same space restrictions caused by the (rightly) protected higgledy-piggledy ancient architecture of many European towns and cities. However, the Finns have done a brilliant job of making use of the spaces they have. They seemed designed to be used by everyone – and they were!

The car is not king

Helsinki has whole areas designed around pedal- and foot-power instead of cars – bike lanes and footpaths separate from main roads. The result: loads of people of all ages walking and cycling.

A cyclist on a Helsinki city bike goes past some cool street art

A cyclist pedals past some very cool street art on a Helsinki city bike

Helsinki does have cars, it’s just not over-run with them. So much so that when we were walking around during what should’ve been rush hour, I thought it must be a public holiday.

Helsinki street scene with cars and bikes

Cars – yes. Cars everywhere – no 🙂

As well as being healthier, the lack of cars had the added advantage that I could hear myself think. I could have happily heard both sides of a conversation on my phone whilst walking in the city centre. That’s a very unlikely possibility in the UK.

Public transport in Helsinki

I know Helsinki isn’t unique in having integrated public transport and ticketing, but the fact it does makes travelling and journey planning a whole load easier.

We used the Whim app to get public transport tickets (mobile tickets are cheaper), and also to plan our journeys. Not having to spend half an hour figuring out which bus or tram stop we needed was a welcome change from most cities I’ve visited.

Helsinki’s mobile tickets for Zone 1 are €2.20 and for Zone 2 are €4.20. They’re valid for 80 minutes across all public transport.

[box type=”info”]Disclosure: Whim provided us with App travel credit for this trip.[/box]

We used Zone 2 buses (for the airport), trams and the Suomenlinna ferry during our stay. You can also use Whim for the Helsinki city bike scheme, for taxis and for car hire.

Looking back to Helsinki from the Suomenlinna ferry on our Helsinki city break

Looking back to Helsinki from the Suomenlinna ferry

Ticket checks on Helsinki’s public transport seemed irregular, but they do happen so don’t be tempted to cheat the system!

Outside of the city, Helsinki also has several commuter train lines, which we used to get to Lahti for our RedBull 400 ski jump run.

Helsinki has a sense of collective responsibility

The Finns really seemed to care about their environment. And by “their”, I don’t just mean things that just impacted them personally.

Little things I really noticed. Cafes and bars were all self-serve, and everyone tidied up after themselves. If there was a rack for dirty crockery, you could be sure pretty much everyone would use it. Certainly far more than at home.

A more obvious social policy is a bottle deposit scheme, which was easy to use even as a visitor. Simply pay a deposit by default on plastic and glass bottles, then take the empties to a recycling receptacle that spits out a voucher to redeem on your next shop. Simple.

[box type=”info”]We used the Insight Guide to Helsinki for our trip. We also love this foldable coffee cup, to get into the Helsinki spirit of reuse and recycle! Buy through these links to help the site, at no extra cost to you.[/box]

Something else that really struck me was an apparent lack of homelessness in Helsinki – was that really the case or was I just looking through the city with rose-tinted glasses? Intrigued, I did a bit of research when we got home.

It turns out that Finland is the ONLY country in EU where homelessness is decreasing. And they do that by … providing the homeless with a home.

Not exactly radical, but in Finland they’ve figured that homeless people are more likely to access support services when they’ve got a stable environment to live in.

High quality … everything!

The easiest example of quality in Helsinki I can think of is the food. There was not a soggy sandwich in sight. Processed food just didn’t seem to be a thing. (hallelujah!)

Outdoor food stalls - a Helsinki city break

Helsinki has plenty of popular outdoor food stalls. Fresh fish soup, yummy bread and coffee were €10.

In coffee shops, freshly made sandwiches on granary bread and plated salads were the norm. On proper crockery.

The coffee was good too, though we’d expected that, as the Finns are apparently the biggest consumers of coffee per person in the world.

It’s true that some of this quality does come at a price. However, Helsinki wasn’t as bank-breaking as we’d anticipated. Prices for food and drinks were around 25% more than in the UK. Coffee shops were self-service, so no tipping required. Oh, and reindeer tastes goooood 🙂

For drinking at home (or in your Airbnb apartment), buy stronger booze like wine and spirits from an Alko off licence. Only beer and cider are sold in supermarkets. Alko stores close on a Sunday; and only open ‘til 6pm on Saturdays (8pm Monday to Friday). Not that we fell foul of this when being quite ready for a night in with a bottle of wine after competing in the RedBull 400. Oh, no, sirree!

If you fancy a tipple when you’re out and about in one of Helsinki’s many green spaces, there are plenty of uber-cool bars where you can quench your thirst.

Even the souvenirs in Helsinki were classy

There was not a dodgy fridge magnet in sight in Helsinki. I mean, how fabulous are these reindeer socks?

Reindeer socks - a quality Helsinki city break souvenir

Reindeer socks, €6 from Helsinki airport

For other lovely craft shopping, the Hakaniemi Market Hall is home to high quality goods as well as the ubiquitous Moomin souvenirs, which are something of a national obsession in Finland. It’s also a rather fine place to have a coffee and watch the world go by.

[box type=”info”]We stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Kallio, Helsinki (££ discount off your first Airbnb stay with this link) and flew to Helsinki with Finnair from Manchester. Book your flights via Skyscanner. Help the site by using these links, at no extra cost to you.[/box]

Take me back!

It’s safe to say my slight worries that Helsinki might be a bit too stale for me were well and truly allayed. This was my first ever trip to Scandinavia, and I’m already asking: when can we go again?

Have you visited Helsinki? What’s made you think “yay” or “nay” to Helsinki as a potential city break destination? Share your views below.

How to spend a full day walking York city walls

This locals’ guide to York city walls features several hot spots that make this English city so special. Plus: I include some insider tips about the off-wall places you shouldn’t miss.

You could walk the 3.4km around York city walls in an hour or so. But, take in sights and the occasional pub en-route, and that hour could easily stretch into a day – and night.

York city walls at Lendal Bridge

Yes, the walls even have in-built coffee shops. This one’s The Perky Peacock under Lendal Bridge.

Start with a good breakfast

If you’re going to be on your feet all day, give yourself a good dose of fuel to start with. Begin your York city walls walk with breakfast at the Brew and Brownie on Museum Street. Their all-day pancakes are to die for. Get there at opening time though, as tables are in demand. The visitor information centre is a couple of doors down.

[box type=”info”]To help you get the most out of your time in York, pick up the Insight Guide to the city before you arrive. Help the site by buying the guide through this link; it won’t cost you a penny more![/box]

Start your York city walls tour at Bootham Bar

A “Bar”, in York city walls terminology, is not somewhere to buy a lovely glass of wine or a fancy cocktail. Oh no. It’s the ancient term for a Gatehouse. In the case of York, the gatehouses are stone structures or towers the size of several houses. They were used as tollhouses or defensive positions to guard what was once England’s second city.

There are four large and two small Bars around the walls, and they’re all pretty photogenic. Start your York walls walk at Bootham Bar, which is next to the De Grey Rooms.

If you were hoping a bar was secret code for “pub”, more of those later!

Go clockwise to York Minster

You’ll soon look over the beer garden of the rather fine Lamb and Lion pub; overshadowed by the Gothic splendour of York Minster looming before you.

The Minster’s current exterior dates from the 13th century. There’s a fee to get in for non-residents, but the views from York’s walls are free.

Continuing, you’ll overlook gardens and fancy houses galore. York St John University (on your left), the Treasurers House and the Quilt Museum (on your right), before arriving at Monk Bar. The tiny Richard III Experience is located inside this Bar (joint ticket with the Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar).

Sadly, the walls aren’t continuous (boo, hiss), so – about 10 minutes after Monk Bar – you’ll need to get off them at a particularly unattractive road junction opposite a carpet store. Walk with the waterway on your right and the entirely unglamorous retail units of Office Outlet and Halfords on your left, before rejoining at Red Tower.

Walmgate Bar

After rejoining the walls at Red Tower, you’ll reach recently-restored Walmgate Bar after only a few minutes. If you fancy a restorative cuppa you’re in luck, as it’s home to the rather fine Gatehouse Coffee.

York Gatehouse Coffee - York city walls walk

Yes, it really is a coffee place in a “bar” – one of my fave places for a brew in York

Clifford’s Tower and the Castle Museum

Moving on from Walmgate Bar, you’ll pass the Barbican – a venue for concerts and the occasional snooker championship – on your left, before arriving at York’s former castle, just past the Travelodge. Clifford’s Tower is the old Castle Keep. It’s run by English Heritage and offers fine views of York from the top.

Clifford's Tower York - York city walls walk

Clifford’s Tower – even if you don’t pay to go in, it makes for a good photo 🙂

York Army Museum - York city walls walk

At York Army Museum
– who can resist dressing up?

From here you can also detour to the fascinating Army Museum (one of several York attractions focusing on military history), and to a York favourite, the Castle Museum (all have entry fees, though there’s a discount at the Castle Museum for local residents with a York Card).

In the Castle Museum you can get locked up in the old city jail, and wander the streets of a very plausible Victorian York. It’s the kind of place you can have fun for hours. It also makes for a brilliant stop if the weather isn’t kind to you.

From the Castle, cross the river over Skeldergate Bridge, where you can rejoin the walls or keep going straight ahead for a minute or two for a little off-piste detour.

You’re in locals’ territory here. This is Bishy Road – Great British High Street of the Year and a slightly gentrified but very lovely little row of shops, mostly of the independent variety. It’s also round the corner from my home; so I admit I’m rather biased in loving it!

For a bite to eat, I can highly recommend Sicilian bistro and gelateria Trinacria, the bustling Pig & Pastry or the fabulous Robinsons. If you’re after something stronger, The Swan pub is a good bet.

[box type=”info”]For somewhere to stay near the walls in York, try Middletons Hotel on Skeldergate. Middletons also does a very nice Sunday lunch and owns the neighbouring gym (which I go to). Or there are plenty more accommodation options, including cosy B&Bs and budget hostels. Booking through these links doesn’t cost you any more and I receive a small commission which helps me run this site. Thank you :)[/box]

Micklegate Bar

Rejoining the walls at the end of Skeldergate Bridge, continue to Micklegate Bar, which houses the Henry VII Experience.

York city walls - Micklegate Bar

Micklegate Bar. Not bad for a city entrance.

If you didn’t have a Bishy Road lunch stop, another option here is Your Bike Shed Café, just below the Bar. Brigantes, slightly further down the hill into town on your left, is a fine pub/bistro option; or you could mix it up with a tasting and/or tour at York Brewery.

York Brewery - York city walls walk

The York Brewery tour – you get a tasting at the end of it 🙂

Keeping on the walls, you’ll soon see York’s magnificent railway station on your left. You can detour here – it’s a ten-minute walk (signed through the station) to the free and fun National Railway Museum. Like the Castle Museum, there’s entertainment to be had for kids and big kids alike.

Finish your tour of the walls with a beautiful vista of York Minster straight ahead with you. At Museum Gardens grab yourself an ice-cream, and sit in the sun (optimistic here, this is England, after all!) under the remnants of St Mary’s Abbey to enjoy it. Bliss!

the view down to York Minster from York city walls

Looking towards the Minster on the home stretch of this York city walls walk

Best time to visit York city walls

York city walls - March daffodils

Don’t miss the March daffodils

March, without a doubt. Spring is in the air and the daffodils are in full bloom. There’s no finer sight.

York city walls tips and practicalities

  • They’re free! You don’t need a ticket – just find the nearest entry point and enjoy.
  • The walls are open every day from 8.00am until dusk, except on Christmas Day and days when there’s snow or ice.
  • They can be busy, especially during weekends and school holidays. A great time to walk York city walls is just before they close at dusk – you’ll have them pretty much to yourself.
  • Many stretches of the walls have sheer drops to one side; not to be tippled over when tipsy. There are also steps galore.
  • York is half way between London and Edinburgh. If you arrive by train, you can enter the city walls at Micklegate Bar, which is to your right if you exit the train station’s main entrance.

Have you walked York city walls? Did you manage to complete the circuit without stopping at a pub? Tell us all about it!

What to see on a self-guided Berlin architecture walk

Wow, Berlin’s got a tonne of fantastic buildings! Here’s my self-guided Berlin architecture walk that shows off the city’s eclectic side. There’s a load of glass, brick and render out there …

1. Modern Berlin architecture at the Hauptbahnhof

A homage to glass, the multi-storey central train station (Hauptbahnhof) combines style and function and has itself become a Berlin landmark since opening in 2006. Wander amongst its many levels, try not to get lost by mixing up your S-Bahn with your U-Bahn (or was that just me?), and admire the precision of its sleek design as well as its punctual train departures.

Berlin architecture walk Hauptbahnhof

Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof (central train station), a homage to glass

From the Hauptbahnhof, walk south for 2km through Tiergarten to Potsdamer Platz, where you’ll find the very cool Spy Museum, some Berlin wall remnants, and another next piece of fancy Berlin architecture, the Sony Center.

2. The Sony Center’s wondrous glass roof

The Sony Center is home to a wondrous glass roof that reflects and refracts in the multitudinous glass edifices below.

It inspires lot of staring upwards. And plenty of picture-taking.

The Sony Center is also home several places to eat, some funky big screens, and a random pond.

Berlin architecture walk Sony Center eating

Plenty of places to eat and admire the roof

Enough of the glass, the next stop is one of Berlin’s rapidly changing neighbourhoods, Prenzlauer Berg. It’s a good hour away from the Sony Center on foot, so you can let the train take the strain for this next stretch of Berlin architecture, by hopping on U-bahn (Underground) line U2 from Potsdamer Platz to Eberswalder Straße.

3. Prenzlauer Berg

Part shabby chic, part gentrified, Prenzlauer Berg isn’t big on major Berlin landmarks, but it IS the place to go for renovated 19th century Berlin architecture. Think a fusion of pastel-painted facades, and you’re there.

Berlin architecture walk Prenzlauer Berg

It’s painted. It’s pastel. It’s in Prenzlauer Berg!

One building that’s escaped the swooping of the paintbrush is the red-bricked Kulturbrauerei, a former brewery turned arts/museum/cultural complex.

Berlin architecture walk Kulturbrauerei Liebe

Wir lieben Berlin!

The Kulturbrauerei also houses a Sunday street food market. Yum.

Plus, there’s this rather convenient Liebe (love) sign. Now if that’s not an invitation for a self-timer photo, I don’t know what is 🙂

Comfy shoes at the ready for this next bit … the next part of your Berlin architecture walk takes you 3km south and east of the Kulturbrauerei through Prenzlauer Berg, via the Volkspark Friedrichshain, to the boulevard of Karl-Marx Allee.

4. Karl-Marx Allee, Friedrichshain

Karl-Marx-Allee is the example of Berlin architecture that made me decide Communist-era apartment blocks were the epitomy of cool. OK, maybe not ALL Communist-era apartment blocks, but definitely these.

The first seven- and eight-storey apartment buildings went up in a matter of months in the 1950s, a feat of labour-intensity designed to show Communist engineering and construction prowess.

Berlin architecture walk Karl-Marx Allee

uniformly incredible apartments on Karl-Marx Allee

The grandeur and uniformity of this 2.3km tree-lined boulevard has stood the test of time, and the high-ceilinged apartments are as much in demand now as they were back in the 1950s. A tenancy on Stalin Boulevard (as Karl-Marx Allee was then known) in that era signified you as a mover and a shaker in the former East Berlin.

Berlin architecture walk Frankfurter Tor

Frankfurter Tor – there are two identical blocks on either side of Karl-Marx Allee

Karl-Marx Allee ends at  Frankfurter Tor. If you’re hungry by now (I know I was!), walk right from here into the bustling streets of Friedrichshain, with cafes, bookstores and bike shops galore. I can recommend Fine Bagels at the Shakespeare & Sons bookstore on Warshauer Strasse.

Keep heading towards the river for the final stop on this Berlin architecture walk – the Oberbaumbrücke, East Side Gallery and surrounds.

5. Oberbaumbrücke and surrounds

The Oberbaumbrücke over the River Spree is another red brick wonder of Berlin architecture. Walk across the bridge under its uniform arches, ride over it on a bright yellow U-Bahn train (yup, that is an oxymoron), or under it on a river cruise.

Berlin architecture walk Oberbaumbrücke

the double-decker red brick Oberbaumbrücke

Back when Berlin was divided, the bridge marked a checkpoint between East and West. Nearby is the longest stretch of remaining Berlin wall, now the East Side Gallery arts project.

During the time of my visit (July 2016), one side of the wall had a tear-inducing temporary exhibition on Syria, featuring powerful images and stories from a land blighted by war.

Berlin architecture walk Syria exhibition

powerful images of Syria in this temporary Berlin Wall exhibition

The area either side of the Berlin Wall was once a no-mans land, but is now a property developers dream.

With fancy new apartment blocks, a new music arena under construction, and a bright turquoise office building, it’s all going on in this part of town.

Berlin architecture walk turquoise building

turquoise office? Check. Crane? Check? This must be Berlin …

If you’re the kind of person who likes to take pics of cranes criss-crossing the skyline, this is where you need to be.

[box type=”info”]I stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Berlin (££ discount off your first Airbnb stay with this link) and used the Lonely Planet Pocket Guide to Berlin for my trip. Help the site by using these links, at no extra cost to you.[/box]

Berlin architecture summed up: diverse

There’s seemingly a gazillion architectural styles and projects in Berlin. The forthcoming Humboldt Forum promises to be another exciting development, which means only one thing: I’ll need to go back!

Which are your favourite examples of Berlin architecture? Share your know-how below 🙂

DIY your Lisbon architecture tour with this guide

The architecture of Lisbon has been influenced through history by its rulers, its seafaring exploits and a great big earthquake. DIY your own tour of Lisbon architecture by time-travelling through the Portuguese capital.

The Moors – Arabic influence in the architecture of Lisbon

Lisbon was under Moorish rule from the 8th-12th centuries. The current Castelo de São Jorge dates from the mid 11th century and was a Moorish stronghold until the four-month strong siege of Lisbon in 1147, after which Dom Afonso Henriques ousted the Moors and declared himself the first King of Portugal. The castle was expanded and modified to become his court.

Ramble on the ramparts, meander down the moat and breeze across the bridge. The restored citadel (price €8.50 per adult) also houses the remains of the 13th century Royal Palace, and some monster views over the red-roofed city below.

Lisbon architecture - view from the castle

Lookout from the Castelo de Sao Jorge to the city below

Heading up and down the steps to the battlements gives a certain scale to this centuries-old structure; but be warned – as Lisbon’s top tourist attraction you won’t have the place to yourself.

The influence of the Moors is still apparent in the Arabic flavour of Lisbon’s architecture in the Alfama neighbourhood, which sits directly below the castle. It’s a fair hike up here from the city centre below, or you can let a tram or tuk-tuk take the strain.

Lisbon architecture - yellow tram

You can’t go to Lisbon and not take a picture of a tram. It’s practically the law 😉

The seafarers – Lisbon’s Manueline architecture extravaganza

Manueline Lisbon architecture - The Tower of Belem

The Tower of Belem – a showoff piece of Manueline architecture in Lisbon

From the Moors to the explorers, Lisbon’s architecture had a serious dose of flamboyance and eccentricity in the late 15th century under the reign of Manuel I.

It was under his flag that Vasco de Gama set sail in 1497 around the Cape of Good Hope to India at Goa and Calicut. His voyage resulted in the lion’s share of the Eastern spice trade – initially pepper and cinnamon – heading Portugal’s way.

Seafaring – as well as bringing wealth to Portugal – featured strongly in the Manueline architecture found in some of Lisbon’s buildings of his era.

A cross between Gothic and Renaissance, the decorative architectural style included knotted ropes and other references to all things oceanic. Examples can be seen in Lisbon at the Unesco World Heritage sites of the Tower of Belém (€6) and the Jerónimos Monastery.

The earthquake – tiles for fire prevention

Following a huge earthquake that devastated the city in 1755 through destruction and fire, an ingenious but decorative approach was taken to future fire prevention. Tiles.

Azulejo are the city’s famed hand-painted and glazed ceramic tiles, and were used in Lisbon architecture to decorate buildings outside and in as a means of protection from the ravages of heat.

It’s a trend that continued throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to this day.

For an extra dose of tile, you can head on over to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum), which features a tiled-filled cloister, a Lisbon-in-tiles panorama, and a peaceful courtyard to rest, refresh and contemplate.

But you don’t need to go to a museum to see your fill of tiles.

Lisbon architecture - azulejo tiles

check out these tiles!

The cobbled streets of this hilly city are filled with colourful facades and tiled designs that seem to draw their influence from Moorish times. Geometric styles, symmetrical designs and florals in blues, yellows and greens are all common in Lisbon’s architecture.

DIY your own Lisbon architecture tour

To make your own architectural tour of Lisbon all you need is a pair of shoes that can deal with the cobbled streets, and a dose of stamina for the city’s hills. A camera also comes in handy. Enjoy!

What’s your favourite type of Lisbon architecture? Which other buildings should you visit to get a taste of its style? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How to spend 24 hours in Madrid

With only 24 hours in this pulsating city, this guide helps you get to the beating heart of Madrid, Spain’s capital.

A Modern-Art Morning

Get your modern-art fix at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, housing four floors of works by famous names such as Miró, Dalí, and Picasso. The 1937 work, “Guernica,” shows Picasso’s disdain for the bombing of the Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. It’s a powerful piece with a powerful message.

If you prefer your art of the 11th–19th century persuasion, then the world-class Museo del Prado, home to pieces by Goya, Rubens, and others, is for you.

Garden Calm

Across the Paseo del Prado from Reina Sofía, the Real Jardin Botanico awaits. The gardens are a perfect place for a stroll around three terraces, elaborate fountains, and colourful carpets of florals.

An alternative is the 295-acre Parque del Retiro, home to pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, and rollerbladers, and a majestic lake. Savour a coffee and watch the boating action, or go ahead and take part!

24 hours in madrid: Parque del Retiro

Parque del Retiro. Photo by Javier Travelandphotos via Trover.com

Bigging it up in Plaza Mayor

Calle de Atocha leads to the city’s Plaza Mayor, so-called for good reason. It’s pretty much impossible to capture the whole of this gigantic plaza in just one photo — but you can certainly try.

24 hours in Madrid: Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor. Photo by Yagiza Neo via Trover.com

With buildings dating from 1590, an impressive bronze statue, and stylish arcades, sit and soak up the life and atmosphere from one of the many cafes.

Lunch at the Market

From Plaza Mayor, it’s a short hop to the Mercado de San Miguel. The glass-and-steel façade, coupled with the culinary delights offered inside, make it a perfect stop for assorted lunchtime delicacies, washed down with a glass of wine. Enjoy!

24 hours in Madrid: Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel. Photo by Jessica Bowler via Trover.com

Afternoon Architecture

After lunch, take your pick from Madrid’s architectural gems. Whether it’s the Gran Via with its boomtown buildings of the 1920s and ’30s, a tour around the 250-year old Palacio Real, or a step back in time to the 16th-century Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales — choose your period of history and Madrid will deliver the goods.

An Evening of Tapas and Churros

You can’t leave Spain without sampling tapas. If you don’t know your patatas bravas from your albondigas, you might want to try a tapas tour. A word of warning … locals eat late in Spain. For the late-night munchies, the Spanish fail-safe equivalent of a doner kebab is the doughnut-like churro, dipped in chocolate. Worry about the calories when you get home.

24 hours in Madrid: churros and chocolate

Churros and Chocolate. Photo by Esther Levy via Trover.com

Tips for Travel in Madrid

There are plenty of hotels in the heart of Madrid’s action. For affordable options, you can browse here.

To get around the sites, the metro (subway) is easy, fast, and a good value. For more on the metro, visit the Madrid Metro website.

Madrid in Summary

Madrid is a city where world-class art can be found as easily in a garden or square as in a gallery, where a culture of outdoor eating and living prevails, and where heat can be used to refer to the summer temperature or the nightlife. Get out there and enjoy it!

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#312783″]This post was brought to you in conjunction with the #‎HipmunkCityLove project. All views are my own, and are based on my personal experience of visiting Madrid.[/typography]