Written by viajera67 on 24 Jul, 2001
The Prado Museum is undoubtedly the most famous museum in Madrid, and for real art buffs (I am not one), this is the place to be. You can see great works by El Greco, Rembrandt, and Velazquez, if that's what you like. As…Read More
The Prado Museum is undoubtedly the most famous museum in Madrid, and for real art buffs (I am not one), this is the place to be. You can see great works by El Greco, Rembrandt, and Velazquez, if that's what you like. As for me, I get tired of looking at portraits of royal families, no matter how skillfully they are painted! To try and beat the crowds, get there early, but if you do have to wait on line, the museum's location at the edge of Retiro park makes for a nice wait.
The Reina Sofia, Madrid's museum of modern art, houses a few of its own famous masterpieces, including Picasso's Guernica, which is impressive. When you need to have a rest, head to the lovely garden out back where you can relax in peace. The museum is in an interesting modern building right near the Atocha train station and the old town.
Finally, my favorite museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Thyssen contains a nice, and - I believe - private, collection of impressionist paintings, as well as some of the more classic stuff. It's small size makes it easy to handle (at least for me), and doesn't take up too much sight-seeing (or eating and drinking) time.
Written by cola0 on 09 Jul, 2005
We arrived on Saturday morning in June as a family of seven flying in from different places in Asia and the States. Posters for Madrid 2012 Olympics were still up in prominent plazas. By the time we all checked in to the Hotel Wellington…Read More
We arrived on Saturday morning in June as a family of seven flying in from different places in Asia and the States. Posters for Madrid 2012 Olympics were still up in prominent plazas. By the time we all checked in to the Hotel Wellington and grabbed lunch nearby, we realized that everything was closed for the long afternoon siesta. Given the heat and hot, glaring sun, I understand why they nap during the day and come out just before sunset to work a couple more hours before dinnertime at 10:30pm (when the sun finally sets!).
On our first day in Madrid, we ran smack into a city-wide march whereby 100,000 to 300,000 people (depending on who you ask) showed up at Puerta del Sol to protest or counter-protest gay marriages. Spanish families showed up with several generations, from great-grandparents to babies in swarms of strollers, showing singular support for family values. The first cultural taste of Spain hit me in the face when I realized that all the strollers were equipped with fancy parasols. (That, plus the fact that the local Spanish is thicker accented and more lispy than the Spanish we’re used to hearing in the Americas.) The Spanish are into bringing their babies out for walks every afternoon, so don’t be afraid to travel with yours! Anyways, gays and gay-rights supporters also poured onto the major streets to give strength to their own minority voice. Some guys we passed by pointed to two dogs in front of a bar and said that they (the dogs!) were getting married later that afternoon. What an introduction to Madrid spirit! As for us, we got our hands on the pro-family signs and happily snapped our first cheeky pictures in Madrid. Go family!
As the rest of the city marched in protest, we attempted the Lonely Planet city walking tour. It was a grueling 7-hour marathon to see the major sights. Of course, we made some lengthy stops for churros and hot chocolate at Chocolateria de San Gines (yum!), tapas sampling in the Plaza Mayor (top-attraction pick), and one of our best dinners in Spain at Botin (oldest restaurant in the world?). If we could do it with three generations of folks who never hit the gym and whose favorite sport is shopping, not to mention an 11-month-old who prefers to be carried, anyone else should be able to weather the trek as well. Bring lots of water and wear sensible shoes!
Sunday morning, we had the best breakfast of the trip at Mallorca, a great pastry shop on Calle de Serrano, packed up a dessert picnic from there, and spent the rest of the morning sauntering and enjoying each other's company at Parque del Buen Retiro. The Spanish LOVE babies and dogs, so our baby got plenty of attention and delighted in watching the dogs and pigeons at play. The park has plenty of nice shady, scenic spots to escape the glaring sun and 34°C heat. But by high noon, we rushed to the nearby Prado Museum to cool down and take in the culture. Personally, I preferred the museums in France and Italy to those I visited in Spain, but they do have several interesting pieces in the collections as well. Of note, in particular, are the paintings from the Spanish school featuring Velazquez, El Greco (better than those in the Casa-Museo de El Greco in Toledo!), Goya, and Murillo. My personal favorite was Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, from which God provided the perfect opportunity to explain the evangelical message to a curious father.
Between 2 to 6ish pm, everything shuts down. And since we were in town for only 3 days (during the weekend), we didn't see ANYTHING open other than a few restaurants and the H&M and Nike stores on Gran Via. Not even the highly recommended tapas bars in the seedy, gay Chueca district bothered to open their doors during our entire stay, nor did the swanky stores on Calle de Serrano. We left Madrid wondering whether the locals had ALL escaped the record heat for an early vacation this summer. Guidebooks all warn against traveling to Spain in August, but this is June we’re talking about! Beware of earlier-than-usual summers and heat waves. During our 2-week stay in Spain, Seville and Barcelona were definitely livelier, with more attractions and things to do than Madrid. However, Madrid is, again, a great introduction and place to ease into Spain.
Written by lashr1999 on 22 Jul, 2005
Madrid is the capital of Spain, which has a population of over three million. It is a business center and is the home of the Spanish Royal Family. Most of its industry is located south of the city, where textile, food and metal factories may…Read More
Madrid is the capital of Spain, which has a population of over three million. It is a business center and is the home of the Spanish Royal Family. Most of its industry is located south of the city, where textile, food and metal factories may be found. Madrid has a very fun nightlife and is a center for arts and culture. There are many places to see in Madrid here are my 2 favorite.
One place that has to be seen is the Royal Palace of Madrid. The immense palace was built by King Philips V in 1734. Now, it is used for official acts of state as well as special ceremonies. The royal family does not live there anymore. There are over 2000 beautifully decorated room, some walls are even lined in silver and gold. Each room has its own unique style, no two room seem to be done in the same manner. Only 50 of the 2000+ rooms are available to the general public for viewing.
The Palace is open:
Weekdays 9am to 6pm, Holidays 9am to 3pm
Oct. 1 to March 31, the Palace is open:
Weekdays 9:30am to 5pm, Holidays 9am to 2pm
Calle Bailén, 6
+34 91 5475350
Another impressive site is the Valley of the Fallen or as the locals say Santa Cruz del Valle los Caidos is a worthwhile visit. It was commissioned by General Franco as an attempt of reconsiliation after the Spanish Civil war. The site consists of a huge 500 foot cross on top of a rock with a basillica carved within the rock below.
(91) 890 5611
North of El Escorial on M600.
Written by travelwisdom on 27 May, 2005
It is a bone-chilling and gray March day in Madrid. My husband Hank and I are huddled together on a busy corner with 20 other English-speaking volunteers from around the globe. Nearby, an equal number of Spanish executives eye us with looks ranging from timidity…Read More
It is a bone-chilling and gray March day in Madrid. My husband Hank and I are huddled together on a busy corner with 20 other English-speaking volunteers from around the globe. Nearby, an equal number of Spanish executives eye us with looks ranging from timidity to terror. We are waiting for a bus that will take us 3 hours from Madrid to a hotel near the ancient village of Barco de Avila in a remote area of the Gredos Mountain Range.
For the next 8 days, our two groups will be sequestered together for an intense English-immersion program called Pueblo Ingles (previously known as Englishtown). Pueblo Ingles is the brainchild of American businessman Richard Vaughan, who came to Spain in 1972 to teach English and never left. Dissatisfied with traditional English-language school curriculums, Vaughan developed Pueblo Ingles to bridge the gap between classroom English and real-world English conversations.
Come along with us on a rich and rewarding journey that will transform our two distinctly different groups from shy strangers to cherished friends.
Our Anglo group is a model of diversity. Composed of an almost number of men and women, our ages range from early 20s to 70s. We are writers, musicians, chemists, artists, executives, students, and retirees from the United States, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. A father and son from Hawaii are touring Europe on bikes for one year on a fellowship, teaching wheelchair tennis. A young woman originally from Nigeria, now living in Boston, is completing her Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Harvard. There are a few couples, like Hank and I, and many single travelers.
The Spanish group is equally diverse, an even mix of men and women in their late 20’s to mid-50’s. They are mid- to- upper-level executives with companies like Vodaphone, Microsoft, Oracle, Mercedes-Benz, Cemex, and the Bank of Spain. They share the common need to understand and speak English in their careers. For them, this week is serious business. Their professional success depends on their ability to become fluent in English.
Boarding the bus, we each sit with one of our Spanish counterparts for their first Pueblo Ingles conversations. The next 3 hours prove long and arduous for our Spanish "victims" as they call themselves. Although they all speak intermediate classroom English, they quickly believe we must be speaking some other unknown dialect. Not only do our individual conversations sound unintelligible, but the various Anglos don’t even speak the same English. There are drawling Southern accents (like mine), northern accents, nasal West Virginia hill-country accents, Irish brogues, clipped and proper British accents., and more. Some Anglos speak slowly and distinctly.
Others speak fast, their conversation peppered with slang and words like "gonna." Isabel asks, "What is a gonna?" Later, Beatriz tells us all she could think about during that long, long bus ride was, "What am I doing here? Please get me out of here. This is an impossibility!" As our bus turns into the tall gates of the Gredos Gate Hotel, everyone falls silent. The late afternoon sun paints majestic snowcapped peaks on all sides in breathtaking hues.
Continue on to my next journal and learn about a typical day at Pueblo Ingles.
Written by jaebirdypie on 14 Aug, 2003
Seated over 2,100 feet above sea level, Madrid is the highest capital in all of Europe. In 1561, King Fillipe II chose the small village of Madrid to house the Royal Court because of its central location. Today, all distances in Spain are still measured…Read More
Seated over 2,100 feet above sea level, Madrid is the highest capital in all of Europe. In 1561, King Fillipe II chose the small village of Madrid to house the Royal Court because of its central location. Today, all distances in Spain are still measured from this sprawling metropolis of over 5 million people.
Madrid is said to be one of Europe's livliest capitols. It's a very social city filled with a vigorous, joyful, food-loving people who never seem to sleep. Whether they are enjoying the Sunday bullfights, sidewalk cafes or antique markets, the Madrilenos love to live life outdoors.
Here, the old and the new seem to meet on every street corner. The original Dry Martini, first introduced by Ernest Hemingway, is still proudly served in restaurants and bars. Beautifully hand-painted fans (a fashion accessory long popular in Madrid) are not just sold as nifty souveniers. The women of Madrid still use them everyday! Tall, modern buildings find themselves built around a network of open medeaval squares. Among them, Plaza de Espana boasts a monument honoring literary genious, Miguel de Cervantes. Surrounded by tall trees and antique rose bushes, the author's stone likeness sits elevated above of his two most beloved characters. Crafted in bronze, Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza ride out to meet onlookers for a photo-op.
The city's central location and excellent rail service make any day trip by car or train convenient. Madrid's railway station was originally built in the 1880s. Later renovations in 1992 made room for a beautiful tropical garden and earned the station consideration as an architectural marvel. An AVE "bullet train" to Sevilla (about 300 miles away) only takes about two and a half hours. Forty-five minutes outside of Madrid is the city of Toledo, home to El Greco and a richly diverse religious history. The city of Segovia is less than an hour's drive from the capitol. It is home to a most fairytale looking alcazar and the Roman Aqueduct, built around 50 B.C.
Written by dharlan on 10 Apr, 2002
A few years ago on a cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona I wish someone had warned me about the growing problem of pickpockets and thieves in Spain, but no one did. On a side trip to Seville several of us learned the hard way.…Read More
A few years ago on a cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona I wish someone had warned me about the growing problem of pickpockets and thieves in Spain, but no one did. On a side trip to Seville several of us learned the hard way.
To digress for a moment, I would like to point out that I didn't just fall off the turnip travel truck. During my life, I have traveled extensively all over the world and have well over 10 million air miles to my credit. No where however, have I had problems like in Spain, and this seems to be the common opinion of everyone I talk to that has been there.
Now back to Seville. The day was clear, warm and quite pleasant. The wife and I had passed through Maria Luisa Park and the Plaze de America. We visited Seville's leading monument, the Cathedral which is the third largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. We had lunch in the square, did some shopping and were heading back to the bus. We were walking down the Avenida De La Constitucion which is probably Seville's leading street. This was certainly not the sleazy part of town. The avenue is wide, has nice shops and was not crowded. It was also in the middle of the afternoon. We were about a block from the bus and had just crossed a street. I was about a pace ahead of my wife when she suddenly called out that I had something all over my back. I turned around and noticed a well dressed couple a few paces behind my wife. I also noticed my wife had something on her back as well.
About this time the young couple started looking and pointing upward indicating we had been dumped on by a bird. Since the spots were about the color and consistency of bird dumpings we naturally thought "Oh God - What a Mess". The young couple rushed up, pulled out paper towels and a bottle of water and started helping us clean up. After a minute or two we seemed presentable again so they left and we proceeded on to the bus. We later discovered the brown liquid was probably chocolate milk they had thrown on us . We also learned that mustard had been used in similar incidents.
I noticed the missing wallet about a quarter block away, but of course the couple had long since disappeared. I only had a few pesetas in it, but unfortunately there were three high limit credit cards, a drivers license, and social security card. Even though I called all credit card companies immediately the thieves had still managed to get almost $10,000 from them. The same think happened to several others including one man who even had his wallet in his front pocket. The ship's agent in Cadiz who was born in Spain took me to the police station to file a report. He told me that a few weeks earlier he had been in a small town for a family reunion when his pocket was picked.
Barcelona is something else too. There they have bands of gypsies who will either hand you a baby and pick your pocket while your hands are full or hand you a red rose. Don't take the rose. If you do they will harass you for money. If you pull your money out they will snatch it and run.
The last time we were in Spain on March 15, 2002 we were as prepared as anyone could be, but were still the victims of thieves. We had just cleared customs with everything on a cart. We stopped at the money changer to get a few euros, then to the car rental to check on our reservation for the next morning. The camera case was still with us then. The next stop was to get the phone number of our hotel and then to their pick up point. The camera case was then discovered to be missing even though we had our hand and eyes on everything. A police report was filed at the airport but, the police could care less. In the case was $1,300, about $7,000 in cameras, two cell phones (one international).
I had that number shut off within hours but the thieves still managed to run up almost $900 in charges. There were also glasses, medicines, our schedule, airline tickets and other items in the case.
The next week when back in Madrid, we entered the American Express office where my wife got $200 from her checking account. She put it into a red purse and that in her pocket book.
A few minutes later we stopped so she could purchase a few post cards, then accross the street to a store. When she opened her pocket book to pay for an item she noticed her red purse with the money was gone. Everywhere you went merchants were passing out preprinted notices warning that Madrid was full of thieves no matter where you were.
Later one night when we were trying to find a specific restaurant I felt someone behind me feeling of my pocket and kicking me. When I turned around to confront him he spat at me.
I don't mean to sound negative about Spain, but I'll probably never go there again and I will strongly advise everyone I can not to either. If you really must go, then be certain that anything and everything of any value is locked to your person. It's not enough to just hang onto it.
Written by rhiannon1968 on 13 Jan, 2002
Yes, it's possible to visit Madrid with your nose up in the air... not for great buildings or the usual sights... but for the charming little details. Some street names are very quaintly made of tiles: they depict a past or historical street scene and…Read More
Yes, it's possible to visit Madrid with your nose up in the air... not for great buildings or the usual sights... but for the charming little details. Some street names are very quaintly made of tiles: they depict a past or historical street scene and then have the name added. They are often forgotten small work of popular art. For me, they are the soul of the city. Close
Written by BostonGal on 16 Jan, 2001
I think either you'll love Spanish food or you won't. That's just how it seemed to go with my American friends and myself in Spain. I personally loved it. One of my favorites was paella, a traditional Spanish dish of spiced rice,…Read More
I think either you'll love Spanish food or you won't. That's just how it seemed to go with my American friends and myself in Spain. I personally loved it. One of my favorites was paella, a traditional Spanish dish of spiced rice, vegetables, and often either seafood, chicken, or other meats. Other excellent food there is the tortilla espanola, an omelete-like dish that is made of eggs, potatoes, onions and spices. Since I do not eat red meat, I didn't try any of the meat dishes in Spain, but they are really popular. Jamon serrano, a special type of ham, is extremely popular in Madrid and a popular menu item. Also, various types of soups are common, like gazpacho (a cold summer soup of tomato and spices), lentil soup, vegetable soup, fish soup, and more. One other note--bread is served with every meal, no exception! "Pan" is a basic component of the Spanish diet and you'll learn to love these huge bocadillo breads as part of your meal--trust me! Basically dishes made with olive oil, vegetables and meats are common.
As for drinks, the Spaniards love wines and in particular, Sangria, a drink made of wine and fruit juices-delicious. The cuisine is pretty varied, and you can find other types of ethnic foods around the city, but I would recommend finding a little Spanish restaurant with a "menu del dia" (menu of the day) for a real good Spanish meal. Close
Written by Harry Potter on 24 May, 2002
I have to share this story, although it is not about a real snake in the shower. If the incident had been videotaped, it would probably make the cut for Funniest Videos, well then again, maybe not since I was naked. I have…Read More
I have to share this story, although it is not about a real snake in the shower. If the incident had been videotaped, it would probably make the cut for Funniest Videos, well then again, maybe not since I was naked. I have attached a picture of the shower and "the coiled up snake" from my room at Hostal Astoria.
First, let me say this was not the FIRST time I had used this type of shower with a water hose rather than the usual permanent shower head. You may be able to see the small white plastic hook high on the shower wall where the hose can be attached so it need not be held the entire time during a shower. I proceeded to hook the shower hose on it so it would be similar to the permanent shower head which I am accustomed.
Yet, at a point right when I started to put shampoo in my hair, the shower hose detached from the wall. Not only did it just detach, it dove through the separation of the shower curtains and started spraying water all over the bathroom. I tried frantically to reign in the cord, but the strong water pressure had turned it into a wild snake thrashing about and the cord was so long, I just couldn't pull it all back in the shower area. I knew I needed to kill the snake quickly as it was wreaking havoc outside the curtains, so I slammed down the lever, the water turned off immediately and it was quiet.
I took a deep breath and then slowly, I pulled apart the curtains to survey the damage. The snake hadn't left an inch of the bathroom dry. Water was dripping from the ceiling and the floor was soaked. The mirror was streaked with water as were the walls. It didn't even spare my extra roll of toilet paper.
As I still had shampoo in my hair, I needed to get back in the shower. However this time I sat down in the tub, kept a firm grip on the snake, and quickly rinsed my hair.
Written by roza4 on 13 Jun, 2003
When traveling to Spain in April, bring a coat, snickers and umbrella. It was raining for several days in Barcelona, one day in Granada, and literally pouring for a day I was in Leon. It was rather cool, temperatures were in mid-60’s, but…Read More
When traveling to Spain in April, bring a coat, snickers and umbrella. It was raining for several days in Barcelona, one day in Granada, and literally pouring for a day I was in Leon. It was rather cool, temperatures were in mid-60’s, but it was windy because of the mountains.
In Spain taxis can be an inexpensive way of getting around especially if you are traveling as a group of three or more. They charge you for the mileage and the fee for getting your luggage in and out. In Seville, a taxi ride from the airport to our hotel (Hotel Alfonso XIII) cost us 26 euros, and 8 euros to the train station Santa Justa from the hotel, from Santiago de Compostela bus station to cathedral it was cheaper than a bus – just 3 euros, 14 euros from city center to the airport in Granada, and 5-6 euros from the hotel (Hilton Barcelona) to the train station Sants in Barcelona, 20-38 euros (you will pay 38 euros in rush hour and 20 euros at night) in Madrid from airport Barajas to the hotel (Westin Palace). The Westin Palace hotel was offering pre-reserved taxi to the airport for 41 euros.
Madrid has metro network that is inexpensive and can bring you from one end of the city to the other for 50 cents. City center is much smaller than it looks on the map and you can easily walk from one place to the other. A walk from the Atocha station to the Palacio Real will take about 20 minutes and on the way you will see half of the places you wanted to visit.
If you are planning on traveling from Madrid into the country, I recommend renting a car, it will save you a lot of time. Car rental in Spain is easy to do through Avis and National both of which have more competitive rates than others and multiple locations throughout the country. Make your reservations on the internet to get better rates. Bring with you an international driver’s permit to avoid problems. Also if you get into an accident if you have an international driver’s permit, they won’t have to take your passport. The signs are international, and directions on the roads are easy to follow. Instead of north or south, the signs say "Madrid", "Cordoba", "A Coruna" and you know if you are going in the right direction. You do need some basic knowledge of Spanish, since even though Michelin Motoring Atlas is very good, it doesn’t give you maps of smaller cities and towns. Before I went I have been studying Spanish for three months using audiotapes that I got from the local library and it turned out to be enough to get by. Sometimes when we were asking for directions, people would tell us to follow their car and get us to the road we were looking for.
In Madrid our concierge gave us an "El Corte Ingles" map of the city which is great because it has pictures of sight seeing places in the city and it proved to be extremely helpful. El Corte Ingles is a network of stores in Spain and Portugal that are open from 10am to 10pm daily (closed Sunday) and besides clothes, perfumes and electronics have a large supermarket in the basement. To check locations in each city go to www.elcorteingles.es.
There are some places where you can get drinking water from a fountain just like in Italy, but make sure that it is drinking water. It should say "aqua potable". If it says "aqua no potable", don’t drink from that fountain.