Real Madrid

Oh yeah! Now, this was a super cool one-day tour. Coming to the Estadio Santiago Bernebeu was the highlight to my whole trip in Madrid. I honestly felt like a kid again!

I grew up in Pasadena, California miles away from the Rose Bowl; I was an adolescent during the 1994 World Cup, which took place at the Rose Bowl. I vividly remember hearing the crowds cheering all summer – since we lived just a few miles away, we could even see the fireworks go off at night during the final games. We lived so close to the stadium that we spent the summer charging spectators for parking in our driveway and backyard – heck, our whole neighborhood took part in this money making opportunity. And since we lived on a main street and near a freeway onramp our driveway and large backyard quickly filled up. At about $20 per car, our summer business was booming, I don’t know exactly how much money my parents made that summer but I think they did pretty well!

Coming here brought all those memories back and more. To feel like a kid again – it’s a priceless feeling. Well, okay this day-tour wasn’t super cheap, but hey, when else would I get a chance to create an awesome memory like this one?!

The train station is conveniently named after the stadium: Santiago Bernabeu. Depending on where you are staying in Madrid, it isn’t hard to get here, plus if you purchased the Hop on/Hop off pass, this will be one of the many stops. If you are debating whether to do this tour or not – I say do it! You wont regret it.

It’s best to go on a day when there isn’t a game scheduled otherwise you’ll be hindered by crowds of people and you’ll feel cheated of an actual tour. I paid for my entrance ticket at the booth out front, prices start at €25 ($28) and go up to €50 ($56), which includes a memorabilia souvenir package and tour.

The base €25 includes the entire stadium tour and access to the spectator seating area, history museum, the player seating area, dressing rooms, conference room and finally the gift store at the end. The tour is self-guided which is awesome for taking pictures and taking in everything at your own pace. Depending on your level of appreciation for the sport it’ll take one hour and a half to get through or five hours. I took close to four hours, but that’s because I took my sweet time taking pictures and reading many of the information panels – I treated it as a once in a lifetime opportunity and I made a point to miss nothing. For the price of €25, it is a great deal, surely not to be missed by any fútbol fan.

After buying a ticket inside you climb a few set of stairs and you are immediately greeted by the lush green grass and spectator seating. It was an awesome sight to see this beautiful stadium clean and empty. I was very fortunate to visit during a day when there were no events happening and not many other people touring the stadium – it felt like a private tour just for me!

After feeling content with the high amount of the shameless selfies I took, I made my way into the inner side of the stadium which is a very cool museum. The mass of trophies, jerseys, and collection of any memorabilia involved is impressive.

This was so cool. There was so much to see, the interactive screens were a really nice touch – they were like history books but more interesting. I spent a lot of time viewing the different displays and reading up on the significance and rich history of this sport and Madrid. I relived over 100 years of Real Madrid history at my own pace. Real Madrid means Royal Madrid and these guys are kings for a reason.

Even if you are not a fútbol fan I would imagine that the museum section would leave you impressed. I’ve been to many museums around the world – I must say that this museum is really well put together. You even forget that you are in a fútbol stadium, not until you walk back outside and are once again greeted by the lush green field, do you realize that the museum is just a bonus.

Towards the end of the tour you’ll have a chance to sit in the player’s bleachers and tour through the dressing rooms, showers and lockers. It was a real neat experience to feel like a fútbol player even for just a little while.

The final three sections of the tour include a virtual bus ride, conference stage presentation and gift store. The virtual bus ride was a really nice touch, you get to experience what it’s like to be a Real Madrid fútbol player. My advice is to sit towards the front, closest to the screen. It was a fun experience to feel and see what the players go through and how crazy Madrid gets during game day.

After this short experience you go into the actual conference room and sit through a presentation that is on a loop. It’s basically a love song to Christiano Ronaldo! He’s Madrid’s golden child and the fans love him for it. I’m personally more a Leonel Messi and Barcelona fan, but that tour will have to wait for another time.

The whole experience is about Real Madrids supremacy in the sport and how far they have come. Before exiting you are forced to walk through the super expensive gift shop. Real Madrid takes their merchandise very seriously, the prices are very proud. Even though I loved the whole experience I could have done without the gift shop section.

Only the true diehard fans will spend their hard earned money on the swag displayed at the gift shop. I enjoyed the whole experience except this last part – I don’t like feeling like i’m being forced to buy something or feel like a cheapskate if I don’t! There are many boutiques and even side walk vendors all around Gran Via that sell knockoff swag – i’m not saying support them instead, but you know it’s nice to have options.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the sport there is something you will appreciate. Many travelers pair a visit to this stadium tour with the Museo Nacional del Prado to make it a full Madrid history trip. This was my final full day in Madrid and I opted to finish my visit by going to the Parque de Retiro – by now I had already spent close to a week in Portugal, traveled to Segovia, Toledo, visited the highlights of Madrid and was beginning to feel the weariness of constantly moving. A relaxing stroll through the park seemed appropriate. My time in Madrid shaped up to be a pretty cool visit. I hope my travel suggestions help you decide on how to fill your days if visiting Madrid.

For just a few hours I felt like a kid again. I never made it to any of the World Cup games as a child, but as an adult things are different. Viewing a live World Cup game is on my bucket list and this was a prelude to seeing that dream come true. Happy Travels!

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