By Malaysian Explorer & Photographer, Zung
Last spring, a group of 30 of us decided to visit Spain in tribute of my dear friend, Marcos who planned a trip but never got to go. It made the whole visit even much more worthwhile as we came together from all over the world in remembrance of our dear friend.
Our adventure started from Madrid, the largest city in Spain, known for its abundance of passion, verve and vibrancy. Madrid’s culture is packed with sports, music and festivals, while historical treasures abound. There is so much to do in this city at any given time that it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Allow yourself a few hours to explore the towering museums and art galleries, soak in the historical characteristic of the Spanish soul and do your best to decode the intricate artistic artwork. Cherish your travel stories and memories by taking action shots around the city such as funny moments of laughter, interaction with the locals. To improve your photos, try adding human element – it can provide a sense of scale and content to almost any scene.
Museo del Prado
Museo del Prado is definitely a place to visit as it is one of the premier art galleries around the world. There are more than 7000 paintings in the gallery, albeit only 1500 are currently on display. It is an artistic feast for you to soak in the sophisticated works of art from all across Europe.
Image courtesy of ational Tourist Office of Spain
And if you’re in Spain, you absolutely have to visit Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid’s leading collection of contemporary art with some of Picasso’s masterpieces.
Spend as long as you can in both art galleries or better still, make a few trips as it can be a tad overwhelming if you try to absorb all these artistic works at once. If you are planning a trip to these museums, do resist from taking the usual postcard shots, instead create your own story by taking from a different angle. Try shooting the sculptures and architectural details from a reflected surface instead.
When it comes to a city break, we generally crave for three things: great culture, great food and great company! Renowned for their exquisite tapas, it is generally said that Madrid encapsulates Spain at its best as compared to other cities. Make it one of your priorities to try the tapas when you are here as it is the best start to Spanish gastronomy – tasty, bite-sized and cheap.
The Mercado de San Miguel is one of my favorite spots for good tapas and ambiance. This gourmet tapas market is located next to the Plaza Mayor and easily accessible as it is right in the city center. The special feature about this market is that it is currently the only steel structural market in Madrid, which gives it some an interesting characteristics. There are at least 33 stalls serving scrumptious varieties of tapas, cheeses, meats, seafood and of course, all types of wines and beers.
Paper Lined Floors
During our food trail in Madrid, I also observed an interesting behavior from the locals that they would throw used paper napkins on the floor in bars and restaurants. Apparently, the more used paper napkins thrown on the floor, symbolizes the better the food served.
The Way of St. James, Santiago
From Madrid, we traveled to Santiago de Compostela to meet our host, Antonio and his wife, Theresa for our visit to their 300 year-old river mill house.
Galician’s enduring cultural capital; Santiago de Compostela is synonymous with the Camino de Santiago or known as the Way of St. James. The city is known as the finish point for pilgrims and home to the cathedral where St. James, one of the 12 Apostles, is supposedly buried.
As we landed in Santiago, I noticed the great difference between the vibrant Spanish capital and the autonomous region of Galicia. Although Galicia may be a part of Spain, it had its own proud Celtic culture and language to match- showing the softer side of Spanish. And if you are planning to do some walking around the city, be prepared for rain as the rain in Spain stays mainly in Santiago!
Explorer tip: Be prepared for rain as the rain in Spain stays mainly in Santiago
I first discovered this jewel of Galicia three years ago while on a pre-wedding photo shoot for a Spanish couple, Cristina and Carlos. Needless to say, I was captivated with the stirring scenery of the Cathedral towers dominating the sloping cityscape in Santiago. It was truly breathtakingly, majestic.
Santiago is a region rich in arts, music and of course, gastronomy. The locals here are friendly and it is still remains as Spain’s finest city till today.
With Galicia located on the Atlantic coastline, every walk you take, you can enjoy inhaling the sea breeze andfeast on the abundant fresh fish and seafood especially cod, hake and sea bass. However, I would highly recommend you to try on the local specialty – Pulpo a la Gallega, boiled octopus served with olive oil and paprika.
Raindrops and Lenses
From Madrid to Santiago, it was a fantastic trip with amazing company. I will definitely return to Spain to satiate my hunger for more discoveries in this mesmerizing country.
Photographers Tip: “Frame out the sky by simply omitting it from the picture if the weather is not being cooperative and utilize your Polarizer filters”
However, just because the weather is all rain and looks gloomy, does not mean that it has to rain in your photos. You can still capture some amazing photos and make the best out of it despite what the weather is going to give you. Some tips to keep in mind – frame out the sky by simply omitting it from the picture if the weather is not being cooperative and utilize your Polarizer filters as it cuts through haze and gives crisper colors and contrast delivery.
Image courtesy of Turismo de Santiago
Image Credits: Tourism Media, Turismo de Santiago, images by photographers licensed under CC by 2.0