Madrid Advice
December 17, 2004 2:15 PM   Subscribe

MadridFilter: I'm headed off to Madrid in a month for an exchange program and am trying to gauge how to best take advantage of my time and get the most out of four short months. Any advice about Madrid in general? Things that can't be missed? Long Weekend trips that should be taken?
posted by buddha9090 to Travel & Transportation around Madrid, Spain (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't be afraid of the Madrid Metro. True, it can be full of gypsies wanting to poke around in your pockets/purse, but if you're smart you'll be fine.

I'm trying to remember the name of this wonderful chocate/coffee shop I went to. A Spanish (Madrid?) delicacy, is dipping a scone into melted chocolate. Mmm.

If you're into dancing, take a trip to Seville, famous for it's flamenco dancing - and always a wonderful night of entertainment. Nightlife doesn't begin until 11pm I found, but there's lots to do before then, so don't worry.

What else? I found Lonely Planet's Spain handbook helpful while I was there. Madrid's a fun place - I reccomend wandering the city, that's how I found some of the best things to do/deals that turned into highlights of my stay.
posted by carabiner at 3:07 PM on December 17, 2004

I'm trying to remember the name of this wonderful chocate/coffee shop I went to. A Spanish (Madrid?) delicacy, is dipping a scone into melted chocolate. Mmm.
it may be the place in the Plaza del Sol--go for a midmorning break--very small and crowded but delish--you have to grab a little counter space.

Madrid is wonderful. Chueca is the gay neighborhood (and there's a great restaurant/tapas place there owned by Javier Bardem's relatives--on calle Figueroa). Calle Goya is good shopping, in Barrio Serrano, and there's a great bar/restaurant there built in an old theater--you can have drinks on stage (i forget the name). : >

The museums (Prado, Thyssen-Bornemiza, Reina Sofia, etc) are incredible--just full of wonderful stuff. Also hit the Conde Duque Cultural Center--it's kinda hard to find tho. Visit the Palace too.

I love Madrid! : >
posted by amberglow at 3:24 PM on December 17, 2004

Oh, most people barhop at night--going to one place for a drink (a "copa"), then another, then another, etc. And things start really really late at night. No one dreams of eating dinner before 10 or later, i found. (Lots of hungover people during the day.)

Also, many teens and young adults still live with their parents, and some parks are full of hundreds and hundreds of kids hanging out at night--it's fun. Food was cheap, i found, and there are tons of places to grab something late at night/early in the morning.

It's really wonderful.
posted by amberglow at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2004

oh, i forgot one of my favorite places: Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on December 17, 2004

amberglow - Yes! That's it. Thank you. :)

Also, when wandering down small cobblestone streets, don't be afraid of Spaniards grabbing you and shoving you into storefronts/against a wall as they are just trying to save you from the speeding cars that go above the speed limit down these little roads. (sidewalks? what sidewalks?)

Finally, try some stuffed olives while you're there. Or, bring me back some. :-)
posted by carabiner at 3:52 PM on December 17, 2004

out of town: go to Toledo, and take the fast train to Seville, and Valencia is supposed to be really fun too (but i'm not sure there's a fast train there). Bilbao is supposed to be great too, but that might have to be a weekend-away thing, and Barcelona is gorgeous and very very different from Madrid--also a great 3-4 day trip away.

ok--now i'm done : >
posted by amberglow at 4:58 PM on December 17, 2004

As beautiful and fun as Spain is, my favorite part of my trip there was my sidetrip to Portugal. There's an overnight train from Madrid to Lisbon, you could take a long weekend and see the city and maybe Sintra.
posted by cali at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2004

In Madrid, you're a half-day away from two of the world's most remarkable buildings, the Alhambra in Granada and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
posted by zanni at 11:51 PM on December 17, 2004

Take a trip to see Toledo (old capital city), El Escorial (Philip II's residence) and the Valley of the Fallen (Franco's monument to the civil war dead).
posted by salmacis at 4:56 AM on December 18, 2004

picasso's guernica is in madrid, i believe (at least, it was several years ago). that's one iconic piece of art. there's also some good goya, that i remember. basically - see the art. and afterwards/before, hot chocolate at any scruffy little cafe/bar will probably be wonderful.
the bus/coach to barcelona was pleasant and reasonably priced - then you get to see a pile more stuff by miro...
posted by andrew cooke at 9:44 AM on December 18, 2004

and valley of the fallen is a monument to franco, built by republican prisoners, as much as a monument to "the civil war dead".

oh, and the alhambra is excellent (as zanni says). i wasn't impressed by la sagrada familia - in an age of skyscrapers, computer aided design and gehry, it's rather amateurish, scruffy, and generally disappointing.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2004

picasso's guernica is in madrid, i believe
Yup--it's in the Reina Sofia. It was here in NY for many years before that tho. And Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, etc are all at the Prado.
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2004

Thanks for the advice everyone!
posted by buddha9090 at 2:10 PM on December 18, 2004

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