April in Madrid

Feb 2nd, 2015, 07:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 161
Thanks danon for the heads up on Platea.

Robert, love the hotel recs especially Viura and will look up the Maribel Guide. I read your comment on kja's thread and took notes of all your terrific suggestions... thank you!
tessietoes is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2015, 09:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I don't know about you, tessietoes, but I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the options! We should all be so lucky as to face these first-world problems. ;-)
kja is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2015, 10:05 PM
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Be sure to go tasca hopping. That is you go from tapas bar to another tasting their specialties. I have not been in Madrid in a few years, so I do not like giving recommendations as things may have changed.

There is also a little visited the Royal Tapestry Factory. here is a description form Frommer's:

At this factory, founded nearly 300 years ago by Philip V and located a short walk southeast of Atocha railway station, the age-old process of making exquisite (and very expensive) tapestries is still carried on with consummate skill. Nearly every tapestry is based on a cartoon of Goya, who was the factory's most famous employee. Many of these patterns, such as The Pottery Salesman, are still in production today. (Goya's original drawings are in the Prado.) Some of the other designs are based on cartoons by Francisco Bayeu, Goya's brother-in-law.

Also on Sundays is the Rastro, supposedly the world's largest flea market. While there is junk, there is also some interesting for sale.

Here is some of impressions from my last trip to Madrid:

I am standing next to a framed poster of a toilet system. Sunday morning at El Rastro, an outdoor flea market, finds possibly a thousand vendors, that weaves in and around an area near the Plaza Mayor. It is the grandeur of junk, an old fashioned diving bell helmet sits on the ground waiting to be purchased and the pure practicality of inexpensive clothing, and the same sophomoric T-shirt humor found in English, now available in Spanish-Sex Instructor-First Lesson Free. Ramones T-shirts were also on sale at more than one stand.
You hear the gravelly voice of old Spanish men and women; others look like Uncle Junior, while the tragically hip look for the de rigor sunglasses. The tradition of El Rastro is 500 hundred years old and I think one of the original vendors is still selling socks.
It has a reputation for pickpockets which is countered by a large police presence.
Also on Sunday morning philatelists and numismatists gather at the Plaza Mayor where maybe 50 vendors sell stamps, money, and coins. There were a number of envelopes (called covers in English and sobres in Spanish) which were stamped censored after the Spanish Civil War. There were also mourning covers, bordered in black, which were sent in sympathy before stamps were used.
Seeking sanctuary I stopped in the Church of San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid. It has beautiful terra cotta statuary and the reliquary of the saint and his wife. I am always skeptical of who is buried where. I was also curious who is attending Mass. No surprise the vast majority where over 55.
Had a decent meal behind the Plaza Mayor, with a very good gazpacho. When you are in the Plaza there is a statue. Follow the horse's behind and make a left.

Reina Sofia

The Museum is across the street from the busy Atocha Station. The building looks like an amalgam of different uses with the elevators added on the outside while the inside varies from an now enclosed cloister to an office building.
There are two floors of permanent exhibits the 2nd and 4th and both are Spanishcentric.
The 4th floor is filled with post war Spanish artist with a Motherwell thrown in. The second floor has the name brands-Picasso, Dali, Gris, Miro, occasionally interrupted by a Kandinsky, Magritte, or Tanguy. They do have an exceptional collection of photographs particularly Man Ray’s gelatin silvers including those of his friends Bunel, Dali, and Andre Breton. There are also photos of the Spanish Civil War some which were taken by Robert Capra.

The Dalis remind us that he was a brilliant, inventive craftsman who added thoughtful and quirky touches. There are pieces from his twenties to his nineties. The later paintings demonstrate a simplicity toward his work.

The focal point of the museum is Guernica and the attendant studies. There is great controversy even now whether it should have been moved from an annex of the Prado. To me, this is a family fight. It remains one of the greatest pieces of art, an apologetic anti-war statement.

Other pieces I found interesting were:

Daniel Vazquez Diaz, La Fabrica Dormida (1925). It is at once both very industrial and dreamy.
Sculpture by Julio Lopez Hernandez, Pareja de Artesano (1965). It is older couple in front of a workbench filled with tools. It is made from wood, polyester and The detail of the faces, clothes, and tools is wonderful.
Eduardo Arroyo, Madrid-Paris-Madrid (1965). This is a two panel work which depicts the artist leaving Madrid as a clown returning to Madrid from Paris, as basically the same artist but personally more sophisticated. Very clever.

I went to the Thyssen Museum which is in a renovated palacio. The walls where the collection is hung are salmon colored (I guess they can turn into the world’s largest restaurant if things go bad.) The lighting is a combination of indirect natural lighting and electric. Those paintings that have glass have a glare. Although the collection is arranged chronologically, the works are laid out on both sides of a corridor with rooms off the corridor. You look like a drunk as you zig zag across the hall. I also lost track of what I saw in the rooms and did not see. The guards are always speaking in knots, so I think we can conspire to borrow a few paintings.
It is hard to believe that a family who started the collection in the 1920’s amassed so many pieces. They start in the 1300’s and proceed through the late 20th century. There are Dutch masters, impressionists, and a number of Americans including Sloan, Homer, and Copley. They seemed fond of the Hudson River School of art and befriended Lucian Freud.

Some of my favorites are:

Hugo Erfurth with Dog by Otto Dix (1913)
Carl Lee Schmidt by Oskar Kokoshka (1911)
Corner House by Ludwig Meidner (1913)
And the wittiness of Max Ernst

We can also blame Ferninad Bol for painting Young Man with Feather (1647. It is probably the first known portrait of the idiotic pose that many writers are given to these days, with one finger across the chin and the rest of the fist supporting the chin.

There was also one called Reclining Nude Shepherdess by Berthe Morisot (1891). I may be wrong, but I don’t think you see too many reclining naked shepherdesses.

I then went to Retiro Park. There was a classical orchestra rehearsing. They were playing familiar parts of famous pieces. I cannot remember all the names but you know the one that goes da-da-di-da. Well anyway. There was Pachelbel’s Canon, 1812 Overture, and Swan Lake. The played Swan Lake mighty fast and all I can think of is the dancers racing crazily around the stage.

I just ran down from the hotel room, it sounded like a parade or a fistfight outside. It was a sound truck blaring hip hop and Euro techno music. The DJ was speaking in English “Are you ready?”

I said no and returned to my room.
IMDonehere is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 06:06 PM
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lol IMDonehere...enjoyed your mini trip report! Thanks for pasting it for me.

kja, first world problems at its finest. I totally know what you mean.

So we finalized the Principal Hotel on Gran Via. Hoping good weather to enjoy the terrace Any favorites around that area...or beyond? Thanks!
tessietoes is offline  
Feb 8th, 2015, 07:38 PM
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The hotel is in a grate location...you can walk to Santa Ana , Retiro, Salmanca, Sol, Prado , Mayor..
One area I also like is near the Royal Palace and the Opera : Plaza de Oriente..several elegant
cafes...pretty at night.
danon is offline  
Feb 9th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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Your hotel is very well located.

And, close to one of my favorite restaurants in Madrid, La Kitchen. I had very good meals there during both of my stays in Madrid.

joannyc is online now  
Feb 10th, 2015, 09:24 PM
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danon, as always thanks for all your wonderful input...made note of Plaza de Oriente.

joannyc, La Kitchen looks yum! Pumpkin ravioli with sage is a fav of my bf's and gets it every time it's on the menu; octopus carpaccio... and the lemon, ricotta & almond cake with creamy icecream...omg. I tried to make reservations but I think I'm too early to book for May. We're going there!!
tessietoes is offline  
Feb 11th, 2015, 02:11 AM
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If you get to the Monasterio de las Descalzas when it opens, they will tell you when there is likely to be an English tour. I did this in March last year and was sent away for an hour. I filled this time with chocolate and churros just up the street.

This is pasted from my notes from my 3 day trip...
MADRID March 2014

I stayed at the Hotel Principe Pio just off the Plaza d’Espana. This was a great location with good bus links, and the metro close by at Plaza d’Espana and Opera. I arrived around 9pm and took a bus up the Gran Via – I was dining at La Barraca on Calle de la Reina. The Arroz Negro was fabulous! Taxi back to the hotel was 6 euros.

Next day I walked up through the Old Town (sort of following the Rick Steves tour in reverse) to the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

I waited a short while for an English tour of the Monasterios de las Descalzas – well worth a visit – and then wandered across town, stopping for a delicious snack lunch for 6 euros at Musee de Jamon.

I’d prebooked a ticket for the Prado but was early so I sat in the sun with a glass of wine at El Botanico on Ruiz de Alarcon overlooking the Botanical Gardens.

As someone who is overwhelmed by big museums and has a low-ish boredom threshold, I booked my ticket for the Prado, but did my research first because I knew I really wanted to see and spend time with the Velasquez and el Greco paintings. I noted which rooms had paintings by certain artists whose work I admire, and just went to those rooms. Obviously I saw a lot more, but by planning my visit I could be specific about what I saw. I was at the Prado for a little more than 2 hours which was fine for me.

I took buses back to Plaza d’Espana, and walked up to the Temple of Debod which was close by and open until 6.45pm.

For dinner I took the metro to Latina and found my way to Calle de la Cava Baja and explored the numerous tapas bars along there and on Calle de la Cava Alta.

Next morning I walked through the Sabatini Gardens to the Palacio Real, getting in line about 15 minutes before it opened. I really enjoyed my time spent here.

I love small museums, private collections, and there are 3 wonderful ones in Madrid. The Sorolla, the Lazaro Galdiano and the Cerralbo.

I visited the Sorolla on this morning, finding it absolutely charming and delightful, then walked the short distance to the Lazaro Galdiano, stopping for lunch along the way. I found a stunning el Greco in the Lazaro Galdiano which I spent a long time admiring, and I had him all to myself as this museum was virtually empty.

That evening I took a Tapas Walking tour with Andres Jarabo of Walks of Spain. Not cheap but he comes very highly recommended and is a very charming and nice man with a great knowledge of Madrid, food and wine. I met some interesting people on the tour and it was great fun.

On my last day I walked to the Museo Cerralbo for when it opened at 9.30am and had the place to myself for most of the hour or so I was there. Not just a lovely building with the most amazing staircase and pretty garden, but a glimpse into the lifestyle of a wealthy family a hundred years ago, it is packed with fascinating antiques and artefacts.

I walked over to the Cathedral, then up to the Mercado de San Miguel for lots of snacks and then had lunch across the way at Segun Emma. I did some shopping in the food hall at el Corte Ingles, had a final glass of wine in a café on Plaza Oriente and it was time to collect my bags and make my way back to the airport.
julia_t is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 06:46 PM
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julia, I love how you roll! Thanks for that...equally looking forward to the smaller museums and choc churros. I was thinking of all the ones I need to book ahead of time but might make sense to get the Madrid card. Can someone clarify if the card only allows a one-time entry to each museum, unlike the Paris Museum Pass that allows multiple entry? Doubt we'll have time to go twice to the same museum but good to know.

AND...very important, any recs on where I can get the best paella in town? Thanks!
tessietoes is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 12:01 AM
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Spaniards ALWAYS consume the paella for lunch, not dinner. 'Que Si Quieres Arroz Catalina' is a restaurant that serves excellent paella for lunch (1pm to 4pm) from Friday to Sunday. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful building located in the Casa de Campo, the largest park in town.
Revulgo is online now  
Feb 17th, 2015, 12:19 AM
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Spanish tapas you can take in bars in the neighborhood of Las Letras. Click on markers for details.
Revulgo is online now  
Feb 17th, 2015, 12:58 AM
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And more great info! Thanks!
cynstalker is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 03:04 AM
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Saving this for my upcoming trip!
progol is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 07:55 AM
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bookmarking. Tapas was one of my fond memories of Madrid.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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For great paella and rice dishes, go to La Barraca...

julia_t is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 05:18 PM
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Beautiful!! Thanks so much Revulgo & julia...love it!

How about the best flamenco show in town...with dinner?
tessietoes is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 05:30 PM
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oh nevermind, kimhe already got that covered!
tessietoes is offline  
Mar 1st, 2015, 07:48 AM
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I love these "best of" threads...so many great ideas and suggestions all in one place.
Nepenthe is offline  
Mar 1st, 2015, 12:23 PM
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Exhibitions in April:
Revulgo is online now  

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