Madrid is the capital of Spain, so is not unusual to see demonstrations of any kind along its streets. People from all over Spain come here to complain against the central government. So U might find now and then some streets closed to let this people express theirsleves. The most common pathways are Castellana, Gran Via, Sol, Alcala...
At the pic, the last parade of the "Gay Pride" day, 3th july.
Madrid like many large european city does have its share of people just willing to take your money.
I was well warned before going to Madrid but do have a couple of experiences to share.
A colleague of mine was staring eye ball to eye ball with a well dressed man on the subway system. He didn't have a care in the world until he exited the train and realized several hundred dollars of his money was gone with his money clip. In this case he was somewhat at fault to have his money just sitting there unprotected in his pants pocket. This has to be the easiest way to loose your money.
My second experience was at the El Rastro. Nothing happened here however for several blocks I kept noticing the same guy on each corner staring at me and the people I was with. To me it was clearly obvious we were being followed, watched and targets to loose our money. Luckily we were aware enough to spot this, hung on tight and let them know we were aware of what was going on.
These people don't want an incident, that's not how they survive.
You can see from this picture people are glued together in some of these markets and everyone is being bumped making your pockets easy picking!
While in Spain there were two major protest. Thousands and thousands of people protested the potential war in Iraq while on another day thousands more protested because of the devestating oil spill in the Galacia region of Spain!
I am sure somewhere else on VT you will learn about the ETA. I had no bad experiences here. You might also learn about a train bombing that occured in 2004. This one I think can be attributed to the US President George Bush's antics around the world.
Spain is a perfectly safe country in my view. I was very impressive with the millions of people in Spain that protested the war in Iraq.
When you are in Madrid if you are going to be in a lot of Museum or signifcant buildings like the Royal Palace be warned that camera flashes are not welcome!!
So a camera that takes good pics without a flash is important here.
I was on several tours and one in particular where people where on the last warning to be evicted if they didn't stop using a flash and there is plenty of security in these buildings to enforce the policy.
If you want to visit the Prado Museum on sunday morning, you better go early. On syndays theentrance is free so you will find long queues, specially when there is some temporary exhibition.
It opens at 9, queues start at about 8.30...
No idea what this statue is about - but Fraser said the horse has one leg up so the Dude was wounded...............excellent Fraser!
The statue is of Carlos lll an 18th. century King who was responsible for transforming the city. Carlos was known as the Best Mayor of Madrid for his work in the construction of the Royal Palace & Puerta de Alcala. He also introduced a new sanitary system thus making the city cleaner & more beautiful
Madrid has traffic jam on Friday as everyone is leaving the city. Try not to travel by car this day. As for taxis, they are obligated to leave the meter on, but they try to chat sometimes. you can avoid problems by asking a receit.
Many times I have been asked about safety in Madrid and I always give the same opinion: Madrid is as safe or unsafe as any other big city in the world (or at least in Europe). You only have to use your common sense, that's all.
For those who still worry about the safety in Madrid, I offer to have a look at the Useful Phone Numbers, under the General Tips section.
The construction work going on out side the hotel was our early morning wake up call - more sight seeing time for us (Ken & Harry) the younger ones Grant Fraser & Alan never heard a thing until noon!!
...when it comes to fab art exhibits, among other things. You know how this gentleman feels when you wander by the Prado and the sign says MANET!!! and then you realize you are there a week or so tooooo early. Grrrrrrr...;-O
Madrid if rife with pickpockets, like many other European cities. One of my friends had her camera stolen from her purse while riding the Metro. She had let her over-the-shoulder bag hang behind her, instead of in front.
I noticed many Spanish women wearing their bags over their shoulders with the strap shortened to the point that it hung right by their rib-cages. You've gotta do what you've gotta do!
Don't let thieves spoil your fun. Carry bags as I've described above or right under your shoulder, make sure it has a zipper and be aware. And mostly.... do NOT be afraid to assume this position. Who'd wanna mess with a crazy person?
A little while ago we read about Spanish cash machines which in effect were stealing from British people visiting. Spanish banks have introduced confusing bank messages when using the ATM which direct people to say yes to dynamic currency conversion (DCC) or no to the Euro. This leaves people out of pocket. The same applies when paying by card in shops, you will be asked if you want to pay in sterling or in Euro. Say no, pay in Euro. The banks claim that they are doing this so that people know exactly how much money they have withdrawn. People are then going home and finding that they have lost out on the exchange rate. Nationwide has said that it believes that this costs the British £5 million a month.
Say so no
I don't know if this dual charging applies to people from other countries whilst visiting Spain.
They use to stay near to the main places and atractions (Puerta del Sol area, metro, Gran Via, etc). Madrid is not a dangerous city so you can walk safely by its streets, just be careful with them and keep your belongings on safe. If have an emergency just dial 112.
Suelen estar en los alrededores de los principales lugares (Puerta del Sol, Gran Vía, metro etc). Madrid no es una ciudad peligrosa y puedes caminar tranquilamente por sus calles. Si tienes emergencia marca 112.
As we were in the Retiro park early morning we found some types lying in the bushes under trees who were "sjjj sjjj" at us, inviting us to have "chocolad" or alcahol. these people try to get you drunk or drugged and then rob you. nowadyas there is lots of police in el retiro but these people still try to hang around the park
There are a lot of beggars in Madrid, and some aren't honest about their poverty. While we were eating lunch at an outdoor cafe, a little old lady in rags came and started going from table to table asking for money. She was carrying a sign that said something like "I have a heart disease, please help me" in Spanish. When she came to our table she said in Spanish "Charity for a grandma..." but a staff member at the cafe yelled at her to leave. It seems mean, but something that one of the girls I was with noticed, is that for a little old lady with a heart disease, she was very mobile.
Another time, a guy in nice clothes put some lighters on our table, along with a card that said "We're a Romanian family, we're homeless, I'm unemployed, help me feed my children". Since he was obviously dressed well (khaki pants, a nice sweater), we figured he was probably lying about his poverty. So when we didn't give him any money, he took the lighters back and left.
But another time, we had a humorous incident. One night when we were eating supper, a beggar put a paper on our table that described his poverty in Spanish, and the paper also said something like "For English, flip to other side". So we flipped it and the guy had written "I am s--t". We thought it was funny, and so AJ gave the beggar a few coins just for having given him a good laugh.
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