Madrid, land locked though it is, has several top class sea food restaurants that pride themselves on serving the freshest fish available anywhere. These restaurants compete and take delivery from most of their huge coastline. One particular dish I remember is a large fish baked in salt and served whole at the table, this is preceded by some of the dryest chilled sherry you have ever drunk, from Jerez.(spl?). Food, music, bars and culture, all readily available at moderate cost.
Madrid.......! Where do I begin, superb place, lots of wide boulevards and trees. A SPUI junior lived there for 2 years (Pte de Toledo). Don't rush, the place does not come alive until 10-11 PM (at earliest!) Plaza Major is the more or less center and worth a visit (they used to behead peeps there!), nearby Puerto del SOl, all great areas. For excellent (seafood) tapas go to la Casa del Abuelo (grandfather's house) ""near Puerta del SOl, off San Jeronimo street on Calle Victoria"".
The whole area there is worth a visit if you are looolking for bars and restaurants. Don't miss the Gambon shops with their Tapas bars. Just order by pointing at things , you'll geta small plate of it. Avoid the plces with the horrible colour photos promoting their wares, (most) of them are crap.
ORAC should be more recent in his knowledge of Madrid, culturally speaking too..
I enjoyed touring the Palace and the Armory tour. Well worth seeing, especially the Armory. Be careful if you chose to take the guided tour if you don't speak Spanish. Our tour guide had such a heavy Spanish accent we could hardly understand a word. Very nice woman, though.
The Armory is amazing. Set aside a half-day for it.
Smile and say to the barman (find the guy who's 50ish-looking because he is the arbiter of culture in said place... and eat at the bar or counter if it's got one and if you have any sense): "Buenos noches, Senor."
"Jamón ibérico de bellota, pan, y vino tinto... Rioja, por favor." (if you just say 'Jamon serrano', you're clearly a tourist and not insisting upon the best). Now pronunciation lessons... pay close attention.
"Hah-moan ee-bear-ee-co day bay-o-ta, pahn, ee bee-no teen-to... Rrrrree-o-HA, por fah-bor." If he STILL looks at you like an idiot tourist... just say...
"El pata negra..." (the black foot... the finest spanish hams come from pigs with black hooves that are fed acorns... look it up ye don't believe me...) Other excellent tapas include calamari (pronounced about the same way it is in English), olives, various cheeses, etc. While there are many excellent beers available and/or brewed in Madrid, if you aren't drinking the wine, you may be missing the point. http://www.thewinedoctor.com/regionalguides/spain.shtml Additionally, it is a documented fact that Rioja or Duero wine opens up the language centers in the Anglophone mind and you start speaking Spanish... it's true! (Now whether a Spaniard will be able to understand you is another matter, but one must start somewhere)
Art museums... Museo del Prado is referred to as the 'Louvre of Spain' with reason. Reina Sofia is the modern art museum, and I haven't yet been to the Bornemisza-Thyssen (reported to be excellent). There's a market on Sunday called El Rastro (never managed to go myself, but 'tis rumored to have lots of excellent souvenir-type and other items of interest).
Day trips... Toledo, El Escorial, Chinchon, Aranjuez... more or less in that order for personal preference... it helps to have a colleague who's a lifelong Madrileno... they know the spots, they do. Other posts here have also made excellent recommendations, do take some of those suggestions. The Armoury which is below Palacio Real in Madrid makes you wonder if you can reorganize your study to put a 14' long gun on the wall as well as some equine armour...
Try to get a Spaniard (preferably a transplant from up north somewhere) to take you to a 'sidreria'. Sidreria Carlos Tartiere es muy excelente. Envy you... was just there about a month ago... can't wait to go back.
Hospitable and lovely people... but you're not at home, so don't EXPECT them to speak English and bend over backward for you... and they just may do the one and probably will do the other. All in the mindset, y'see.
The reason for this trip was for full-time English teaching jobs (like I did for 2 years in Rouen, France) since I'll be living there with a host family to learn Spanish as quickly and effectively as possible since I need a second language mastered for my (conference) Interpreting Master's Degree. ( at the EU, EP and UN and all that...)
That said, I was mainly taken up by interviews, however, I did get to travel all over the city and enjoy the fantastic metro network. I couldn't walk in a straight line for eyeing up those Spanish girls. Goodness me. ( )
Um...lifting, thanks for the pronunciation lesson. Certainly useful if one wants a bite to eat. I certainly did avoid the McDs, starbucks and all that westernised lark. Spain has a great culture. I love the music and they, well, they have a culture.. what more can I say ?
I didn't expect them to speak English, and since I didn't have a phrase book (will be getting one ASAP as part of my studies), it was mainly pointing, but fortunately pointing means pointing in Spanish. No guided tours, but many friendly people acting as stepping stones.
I had a problem with withdrawing money which really buggered the first few hours up, and I took a few wrong turnings, and spent too much money on taxis for having no time to walk around myself (interviews etc)...otherwise, i'll be very happy to move back there in a few weeks to get going!
All places duly noted. If anyone is there as of last week Oct/Nov, lemme know. You can buy me a birthday spanish pint
Send me a PM with anything specific you want to know about the city..
As for must dos:
Valle de los caidos, Huertas tapas by night, Palacio and Kapital discos (expensive but eye candy a plenty) Bus tour - Everyone has to do it at least to get your bearings El rastro market on Sunday morning.... If you can make it!!
Well Tonic. What the spaniards say about Madrid is; Nueve meses invierno y tres meses infierno. However if the weather don't kill you, it is a beautiful city with lots of things to see and the spanish are lovely people. Enjoy
Just remember the locals eat LATE. First visit, was sitting alone in huge restaurant at 8 pm. Couple of other people arrived at 9 pm, then flood of people at 10 pm. Place was heaving by the time I left. Plan on 10 - 12 pm if you prefer company.
Nothing quite like a late meal and 5 am start for bad digestion - one burp and you remember just what you were eating.