There is one thing you will learn about Spaniards and the people in Madrid particularly. They get up late, the stay out late, they eat late and a lot of them have a ciesta mid afternoon to get them through the day :-)
In all seriousness though its not like in North America where you have your supper at 5:00 pm or so. People eat light during the day and have their main meal 10:00 pm for example.
Peurto Del Sol and the Plaza Mayor are very busy places late into the night and they are there all ages.
I'll never forget one night seeing a very young girl having her cigarette walking so confidently through the streets all cosmopolitan looking. She might have been 15 at the most.
Let's take to the Streets! Protest!!!
Madrid is the center of Spain and its government so naturally if all other regions of Spain want to make a point to the government they have to trek to Madrid and make their case.
During my last day in Madrid you can see in this picture there was another protest. These people were from northern coastal Spain where there was a major oil spill and they wanted action from the government.
Their fishery and tourism industries where in ruins after this disaster.
Cool off by the water fountains
Sit back and drink in the atmosphere, enjoy the sunshine & cooling effects of the water fountains. The statues & water fountains stand in a gracious setting with formal gardens & sparkling water. You can escape the Spanish sun & enjoy some peaceful reflections of your Madrid visit.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Eating in Madrid
Before going to Madrid, I had read about Spanish people's eating habits and, coming from Canada, I was wondering how long it would take me to get used to it. As it turns out, it was much easier than I thought it would be! Here's how a typical day went: when I got up in the morning I usually had a cup of coffee and a really light breakfast (a piece of toast or some biscuits), and went to school. Break time was at around 11:00 am, and most people would eat a muffin or a croissant to tide them over until lunch time. We usually got together for lunch at around 2:00 pm, and that was the most important meal of the day. Have a good paella or cocido in the afternoon and you'll be in no hurry to have dinner! Dinner was usually at around 9:00 pm and was always really light - you don't want to eat too much before going to bed anyway.
I found that Spanish dishes in general were delicious, but not very spicy at all. Pork is extremely popular in every shape or form (especially jamon and salchichas - ham and sausages), and so are fish and seafood which unfortunately I couldn't eat. Being a vegetarian in Spain can be a bit of a challenge but it's not impossible - you'll find vegetarian dishes in almost all restaurants and tapas bars.
Buen provecho!Related to:
- Food and Dining
Dancing in the Streets
If there is one thing I will remember about Madrid it is the atmosphere enjoyed while walking along the streets. There were lots of people everywhere and street performers that were very entertaining and made the whole experience that much better!
In this picture there was a couple dancing very elouquently just a short distance past the Royal Palace.
It was a beautiful day and they were very impressive.
Puerta Del Sol
All roads lead to the centre of Madrid, a very walkable city, take your time wandering around some of the little streets keeping a look out for tiny details. The street sign in the picture has the city's crest showing Puerta Del Sol as Madrid's centre pointRelated to:
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Some bars and cafes in Madrid organize "intercambios", a night on which people can speak Spanish and English. It really doesn't matter what your level is in either of the two languages, the idea is to practice, have fun, and meet new people! These intercambios seem to be pretty popular with the locals, but also with tourists and foreigners who happen to be living in Madrid for a while - I even met my first (and last!) fellow Canadian at one of these intercambios!
J&J Books and Coffee as well as Cafe Madrid (No. 6, Calle Mesón de Paños, Metro Opera) both have intercambio nights on Wednesdays. The one at Cafe Madrid is very popular, so popular in fact that I found the place to be a bit too crowded for my taste (I did however meet some really nice people!). J&J Books and Coffee offers a more cozy atmosphere, and as a bonus there's a book shop in the basement where you can find second-hand English books at a really good price. It's definitely worth giving it a try!
J&J Books and Coffee is located at No. 47, calle Espiritu Santo, near the Noviciado metro station. The intercambios start at around 9:00 pm.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
Cambio de la Guardia (Changing of the Guard)
La Guardia Real (the Royal Guard), is the personal guard of the King of Spain and his familiy. This is a new event, don't thing that it has been taking place for decades; maybe in the future, it will become an old tradition.
It takes place every Wednesday from 11,00 to 14,00 (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), every 30 minutes except when official events are sheduled or bad weather.
Where: At the Puerta del Príncipe (Prince's Gate) which is otuside the Palace (Plaza de Oriente).
And every first Wednesday of the month, there is solemn Changing of the Guard (about 40 minutes) at 12,00 (noon) except August and September, official events are scheduled or bad weather.
Where: Plaza de la Armería (Armery Square).
Prices don't always include VAT
Some restaurants, shops and hotels don't always include the VAT on their prices, so be careful with this. On all 3 restaurants we ate at they had printed "Prices don't include VAT" in a very small font at the end of the pages. When checking prices, our hotel's didn't include VAT either but before confirming the online booking they showed the price with and without this tax.
VAT (IVA in Spanish) is as of now 7% in restaurants and 16% for shops.Related to:
- Budget Travel
I don't know if this is common in all of Spain, but we did have a hard time finding some places in Madrid because most of the buildings on the streets didn't have the numbers on. So after seeing maybe one, we had to count and guess our way to our destination.
Odd right? I wonder how mailmen deliver letters there :-S
Try to learn (some) Spanish because...
...the locals aren't too fond of speaking English. That's how I, as a native Spanish speaker, experienced it. I stand corrected. I have written some handy phrases in my Dominican Republic page.
Feria del Libro de Madrid (Madrid Book Fair)
It takes place every Spring (from late May to early June) in the Retiro Park. You can buy the new released books, best sellers, technical books, official publications... Every day, famous writers go to sign their books for the readers. You also get a 10% discount.
This year, from 31 of May to 16 of June 2.013, and the first edition took place in 1.933.
- Monday to Friday: From 11,00 to 14,00 and 18,00 to 21,30 (11,00 am to 02,00 pm and 6,00 pm to 09,30 pm).
- Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays: From 11,00 to 15,00 and 17,00 to 21,30 (11,00 am to 03,00 pm and 05,00 pm to 09,30 pm).
How to get there:
- Metro: Retiro (line 2), Príncipe de Vergara (lines 2 and 9) and Ibiza (line 9).
- Bus: 2, 9, 26, 28, 61, 63, 146 and C1 (Circular 1).
La Taberna del Rastro
Here is the place to go after el Rastro, the visit is compulsory to everybody who goes to El Rastro. The Flea Market was originally situated in a slaughter house and the trace of blood that the dead animals left gave the name of the flea market in madrid. In El Rastro you can find all, and after, in this bar is nice to eat the chicken wings(alitas de pollo), meatballs(albondigas), tortilla de patata, cañas, wines...and dicovered that El Ratro is not only shopping!
the picture is in the bar and photo was made by Sonny, one day we met there.
Ir de tapeo, ir de tapas, tapear...
All the expressions have the same meaning: To have Tapas. Yes, something so typical in Madrid (or in Spain in general).
I can't say a place or area, anywhere in Madrid have many bars where you can enjoy them. Apart from the touristy districts: Plaza Mayor and surrounding area, La Latina, Puerta del Sol, Huertas street, Plaza de Santa Ana..., the other ones, less, let's say, "famous", have excellent bars too. And not to mention that a "caña" (let's say half of lager, so, beer) or glass of wine (unless you don't drink alcohol, although there are beers without it), are a part of the traditional tapas.
The link shows a list of bars that offer good tapas.
For some recipes, go to Restaurants Tips section.
Fiestas de San Isidro (San Isidro Feasts)
San Isidro is the Patron of Madrid and we celebrate the festivity on 15 May. It takes place in the Pradera de San Isidro. However, the attarctions take place during one week.
Address of the Ermita de San Isidro:
Paseo Quince de Mayo, 62
- Tel.: (+34) 91 569 18 36
- Web: www.archimadrid.es/sanisidro (Spanish)
How to get there:
- Metro: Marqués de Vadillo (line 5).
- Bus: 25 and 50.
- "La Pradera de San Isidro", painted by Francisco de Goya, one of the most important painters of Spain (main).
- Statue of Goya (2nd).
- Ermita de San Isidro (3rd).
- Some attractions (4th and 5th).
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