“The Door of the Sun” sounds pretty lame in English, but out here, “Puerta del Sol” not only sounds nice, but it’s also the name given to the most popular destination in Madrid. This means that it’s the perfect place to witness just how ridiculously rampant tourism is in this city.
Instead of stats and facts, I’ll share a couple of the things I’ve seen with my own eyes. Sol is right in the middle of Madrid. I catch the train to school there every day, so every day I’m running through dozens of groups of old people with cameras, Hawaiian shirts, visors (even in winter) walking ever-so-slowly behind tour guides and pointing at things. For those among them who prefer not to walk, there are also these big, red beauties:
I am almost sure that there are more tour buses than cars in Madrid
Most of the scene is pretty typical, but Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and it didn’t get there by just sticking with the typical. Eventually, even the most passionate of tourists risk growing tired of the monuments, the restaurants and the souvenir shops. This is where the street performers come in.
You’ve heard of magicians and dancers, but Madrid likes to keep things a little more eccentric. One of the best examples you’ll notice at Sol are some lovable but somewhat out-of-place cartoon characters.
Not quite Disneyland but it’s a start I guess.
Come take a picture with me kids, as long as you’re ready to pay!
But of course it’s not all for the kids! Adults can have fun too, and what’s more exciting and animated than a human statue!
I have to admit that this last one did have me pretty impressed. It’s one of the many reasons why even 6 months into my exchange, I still like to stop for a little while at Sol and enjoy the sights. What I see makes obvious why tourism is Spain’s greatest source of income. As much as I might be getting bored of some of the gimmicky aspects of it all, it’s clearly a joy for tourists, and even for many of the locals. In any case, no one can deny that overall, Madrid is an incredible place, and definitely worth the visit.
Until next time,