Ger’s unplanned trip to Madrid

Dec 4th, 2018, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by plambers View Post
Am loving this report. I studied aboad in Madrid many years ago and returned with my husband a few years ago. It was better than I remembered! I studied at the International Institute and rememebered the Sorolla museum, which is some ways reminds me of the Rodin. We visited that and the gardens and mansion are as remembered. We also used Maribel's guides for most of our dinners (and a few lunches) and the places near Retiro that she recommended were casual, fantastic and reasonable. Keep it coming!!
plamers: Darling Mirabel helped me plan my first trips to Madrid, and then to Northern Spain. She is still my first source when planning.

Thanks for your feedback.

Best regards … Ger
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2018, 12:47 PM
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I set off to the Archaeological Museum.

The museum challenge in Madrid is that the Big Three museums are of paramount importance for every visitor and are often full to capacity at the weekends. The beauty of this is that if you step beyond the Big Three, you will find magnificent museums that are almost empty (relatively speaking) on a Saturday afternoon, as was the Archaeological Museum, when the Prado was heaving with bodies and probably downright unpleasant.

This archaeological museum is top notch on a global basis. Its artefacts are unique, and its installations are second to none, displaying the many layers of history on the Iberian Peninsula – the prehistoric, the waves of settlers, the traders, the invaders, the Reconquista.

In the Celtic section, it was heart-stoppingly emotional to see the same gold torques as I have seen in the Dublin museum since a child. A connection to the Irish Iberian origins.

Most impressive were the stunning statuary from the 4th Century BC: Lady of Elche and Lady of Baza. I have never seen anything like this before.

It is an exciting museum.

You could easily spend a whole day here. Excellent staff recommended that, on the first visit, you take the map, and see the 33 greatest artefacts in the museum, and also take the audio guide. This gives you a route through the museum, and you can always stop at other exhibits and consult the audio guide for more information.

Walking back the apartment, late in the evening, the Christmas lights had been turned on, and Madrid had entered its festive Christmas spirit.

Here are some photos from the museums and the Christmas lights:

What a wonderful day! I had an overabundance of religion, art, archaeology, shopping, food and Christmas extravaganza!

Next: A day trip on Sunday
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2018, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by danon View Post
Glad you mentioned Cerralbo..It was recommended to me by friends who live in Madrid
What a splendid place.
It was not busy when I went, I started talking to one of the staff..he was eager to tell me a bit of gossip...The Marquis married a woman twice his age when he was 27.
She was a very wealthy widow whose son was C’s best friend
The family ( including the lady’s daughter ) traveled all over Europe, collected art and enjoying
their riches. Cerralbo had nine siblings, but decided to leave his house to the city.
He never remarried after his wife died. His friend remained single .
Sometimes it pays to speak the language.
Great story danon. I have tired to find out more about the family, as they appeared to have played a significant role in Spanish history. However, I cannot find much in English, which is frustrating.

Regards .. Ger
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 01:07 AM
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This is a great report, and I love Madrid too, but one thing I've never done is spend more than a couple nights at a time there. So eventually that will have to change. When my daughter was a young teen, we started a European trip in Madrid in August, and I had also made us take the metro from the airport to our hotel to save money (not something I'm keen to repeat). With 38 C (100F) heat, she wasn't thrilled, and she was really tired. She was also disconcerted by how hard it was for her to communicate (Madrid has more spoken English now than then, but still less than many major European cities). But we made our way over to Reina Sofia. She stood in awe of Guernica and said something like "All my suffering was worth it!".
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 09:29 AM
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Sunday 25th NovemberMorning: Alcala de Heneres k%2F

I vacillated about the day trip, and even to leave Madrid at all. I had considered Cuenca, but had been before, and the train-fare would have cost about £60 booking at this late stage. There are also other great options to consider, but I settled on Alcala de Heneres, as it as cheap (about 10 Euros return on the suburban trains which run every 20 minutes), close (about 50 minutes) and looked interesting.

Alcala has a lovely small historic town at its heart (ignoring the ugly suburban sprawl around it), with a rich heritage and architecture, and well worth the visit. The historical town centre is just a 15 minutes’ walk from the train station. The town is notable for the being the birthplace of Cervantes, and his statue dominates the town square.

I spent a few hours exploring outdoors, as it was a lovely soft day, crisp and sunny. I visited Cervantes house (not much to see) and the local Archaeological museum (free on Sunday). I only went into the Archaeological museum to use the loo, as I was still in Archaeological overload after yesterday, but the ladies at the front desk were so charming and enthusiastic about their museum, and made such an effort to talk to me in English, I felt it would be churlish not to spend some time here.

Although it can in no way compare to Madrid, it is quite good, well laid out, and has some excellent Roman mosaic flooring. Also, that day they had a special exhibition on the revolutionary effects of farming in the Neolithic era – all in Spanish. I could understand enough to enjoy it, and it is right in my ‘sweet spot’ for interesting facts (have you read Sapians and other similar books?).

I then headed to the restaurant I had booked for lunch: Vinoteca Esencias del Gourmet

I have to admit to being disappointed when I entered, as it is more of a deli with tables rather than a restaurant, but it was full of locals, which speaks to its quality. Cuisine is Galician, and I have no complaints about the food.

I was not in the least hungry, as the steak from the day before was enough to carry me through the day.

I order the Grilled Octopus with potatoes, as I love octopus, but it is expensive in London. It was perfect!

I should have left it at that, but ordered the cheese cake with walnuts to follow, which was excellent but, as I don’t have a sweet tooth, I only ate a quarter.

This is a restaurant for sharing, not for an individual diner.

Main and dessert, two glasses of excellent wine came to 25 Euros.

Alcala is a great half-day trip, and a wonderful contrast to the big city, but I would not spend a whole day there. As it is on the suburban train-line, with trains every 20 minutes or so, I decided to go back to Madrid after lunch.

Here are some photos:

Next: A sunny afternoon in Madrid exploring the Botanical Gardens
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 10:08 AM
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Sunday 25th NovemberAfternoon: The Botanical Gardens

There is something melancholic, yet alluring, about touring a botanical garden in November.

Some photos

Next: Last day in Madrid: The Cathedral and Reina Sofia
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2018, 10:29 AM
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Monday 26th November


Stared work very early again and checked out of the apartment at 11. Took a taxi to Atocha Renfre station and stored my luggage (5.5 Euros for a large storage locker that would take two large suitcases.) and then took the Metro to Sol.

I walked from Sol through the Plaza Mayor, where the Christmas market was in full swing and then on to the Almudena Cathedral, which took 150 years or so to build, and was only completed in the 1980s.

Almudena Cathedral

Unusual for most of my trips to Spain, where I visit several churches daily, in Madrid I had not yet visited a church. It is unusual, in that it is built in a very traditional manner, even though build so late. What is fascinating is that it is probably has the look and feel of a Medieval Cathedral when they were first built, with sparkling stonework and bright paintwork. There are some quite beautiful works of art, particularly the altarpiece.

Following my visit to the cathedral, I visited the crypt, which is probably even more beautiful than the church itself.

Highly recommended and probably best visited at the same time as the Palace.

Lunch: El Cucurucho Del Mar

Time for lunch! Another recommendation from the ‘Menu del Dia’ article, and another excellent choice. Book ahead, as I did – it was full on Monday!

From the Internet:

Since it opened in 2000, this restaurant run by two owners from Vigo, has been serving up fresh premium quality seafood in the heart of the city. The menu also includes meat and fish from Galicia, at a very affordable price. The restaurant is decorated in an informal but attractive way, with seafaring motifs on the walls. Its specialities include fresh scallops and Bueu octopus with potatoes, premium quality Galician meat and traditional dishes such as Padron peppers, and scrambled eggs with Finisterre seaweed and sea urchin caviar, which you can wash down with a glass of Albariño or Ribeira Sacra wine. The dessert menu includes classics from Galicia such as the mouth-watering filloa pancakes, and Santiago cake. Regular menu is in English, but menu del Dia is in Spanish. I was assigned the English-speaking waitress who helped me through translate.

Starter: The Asturian Bean Stew. So delicious I found several recipes on line, and made it myself when I came home. It contains butter beans, chorizo, morcilla (Spanish black pudding), smoky Spanish pimenton, lardons and pork belly, and any other bit of the pig you have handy. My recipe was a great success!

Main: Roast beef with potatoes and gravy. Fine for a Monday. Different cut of roast beef than I am used to, (I wonder if it was the cheaper brisket?), but it was nice and soft. I probably should have had the fish.

Dessert: No room for pudding, so I had the tangerines.

With glass of wine, water, it was about 15 Euros.

Afternoon: Reina Sofia

Walked to Reina Sofia to complete my visit: 4th Floor, and other parts of the gallery I had not visited on the previous visit. The Ground Floor is not available until late December/early January.

I was now visiting the art works that I am not particularly fond of, but I will not give up. – I am waiting for a divine revelation that reveals the significance of a nail in a plank as a piece of art.

That didn’t happen, this time, and nor it may … ever.

I am being cynical. There are great works among, what I personally consider, a whole load of shite, but modern art is a very personal taste. I took pictures of the pieces that were significant to me.

However, there was a special exhibition, that made me VERY happy!

Lost, Loose and Loved: Foreign Artists in Paris 1944-1968: Available till April 2019

From the Reina Sofia Site:

This show explores the contribution of foreign artists who, after the Second World War, were working in Paris, a city which still preserved a certain aura surrounding its mythical modern embodiment as a “City of Light” in the 19th century. Paris at that time, rebuilding politically, socially and economically after the war, was trying to revamp the old image of the “School of Paris”, which had always relied upon the contribution of émigré artists for the development of a modern discourse. Paris was seen as a place of freedom, where individual personalities and identities were allowed and encouraged and, equally, measured meticulously according to a form of Cartesian restraint.

Read more on the website provided.

Its an extraordinary and eclectic exhibition and enjoyable for everyone. Most of the pictures I took were from this exhibition.

I could not leave before seeing Guernica again. However many times I see it, it will never be enough.

Here are my photos from the day:

I walked from the Reina Sofia to Atocha Renfe station, picked up my bags and took a taxi (30 Euros) to the airport. Dropped my bag off at easyJet, proceeded to the boarding area, and had a glass of wine before boarding on-time, for a very pleasant flight back to Gatwick.

Next: Epilogue: Impressions of Madrid

Last edited by OReilly64; Dec 7th, 2018 at 10:34 AM.
OReilly64 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2018, 12:20 PM
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Loving your report! We visited Madrid in Sept.; have yet to post a TR. However, it was enjoyable following you as you explored the city. Really looking forward to your Epilogue. Thanks for the great report!
tomarkot is offline  
Dec 20th, 2018, 03:09 AM
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Great report! I am considering a trip to Spain in April, which would be Madrid focused -- your reviews on food and museums are extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!
Bostonblondie226 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2018, 08:25 AM
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Perfect report! Ger, you outdid yourself.
natylou is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 01:09 PM
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Madrid Epilogue: My appreciation of Madrid

I had the benefit to appreciate Madrid over 11 days, far longer than most visitors, who generally use the city as a launching point for travels elsewhere in Spain.

This was probably my 10th time to Madrid, but I had not been there for a decade, so it was as if new to me, as if I was visiting for the first time.

I have never understood why people don’t like, or don’t ‘get’ Madrid, fo the following reasons:

Architecture: Physically, it is a beautiful city, with a well-planned layout and top-notch architecture from its inception to the present day.

Museums & Galleries: It is a city overflowing with the most extraordinary museums and art galleries – some of the best in world, rivaling London and Paris. Had I been there another few days, I would have visited the Museum of Decorative Arts, Museum of Romanticism and the Garment museum among others, not to mention about a dozen churches.

The Parks: I only visited the El Retiro and the Botanical Gardens, but there are many other beautiful parks to explore.

The Food: I did this trip ‘on the cheap’, and dined very well for a small sum – almost the equivalent price of fast-food in London, without the wine. There are also many excellent restaurants for the gourmands.

The Ambience and People: Madrid is a as a small town masquerading as a Capital City, in the nicest possible way. I know several will disagree, but I found the Madrileños to be extremely friendly, warm and willing to engage, despite my lack of anything but basic Spanish and their lack of English. Everywhere I went, I was made to feel completely at ease, and people went out of their way to help to a quite an extraordinary extent in a Capital City.

The Day-Trips: I choose Alcala de Heneres because it was cheap, but there are so many other choices: El Escorial, Cuenca, Segovia, Toledo, Avila, Aranjuez, Chinchón. You could stay in Madrid and have a week of day-trips!

Madrid should not be merely a landing zone for start of a journey to the rest of Spain. In itself, Madrid is a perfect destination for 1-2 weeks. Perhaps consider it for a Christmas break.

Thank you all for following along.

I suppose I should get back to my Bilboa to Madrid trip report and try to finish 😊.

Best regards … Ger
OReilly64 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 02:06 PM
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as I mentioned, I love Madrid especially Salamanca - the part of the city north of Retiro .
Often refered to as “ barrio de lujo” , it covers a large area with many leafy streets, beautiful
buildings, galleries , upscale stores , a zillion restaurants.
On a couple of visits we spent time in residential
( less posh )
Acasias close to the river. It was very relaxing to mingle with locals without a touris in sight.
In another residential area, just east of Retiro, we found good tapa bars and restaurants.

In addition to the day trips you mentioned, I took an early train to Zaragoza (1:40 minutes)
and spent a day visiting its famous churches and great tapa bars.
Another time, a friend and I took a train to Valencia ( 1:40 again) , enjoyed the day , had a lovely
dinner by the beach , and retuned to Madrid by last train. Salamanca is also reachable in the same
1:40 min.. Of course one might wish to spend more time in those interesting places, but it is doable !
danon is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 02:15 PM
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Excellent contribution danon - thanks!

I booked the apartment at short notice, so took what I could get, and was not disappointed.

However, if I had the opportunity, and the price was right, I would indeed try to get an apartment in Salamanca. I loved walking the streets - it is MY type of neighbourhood.

Zaragoza is on my list for next trip to Spain in March, if I can fit it in as a day trip from either Barcelona or Valencia.

Regards … Ger
OReilly64 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 02:40 PM
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Train tickets to Zaragoza from M or B are pricey, same from M to V , but it is an option.
I am stil to visit Cuenca - also not cheap to get there from Madrid.
Spaish friends took us to Chinchon for lunch ...a nice little place with corrida in the middle
of town. Very popular with Madrileños on weekends.
danon is online now  
Jan 5th, 2019, 04:21 AM
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What's on in Madrid: events, performances, markets, exhibitions
Revulgo is offline  
Jan 5th, 2019, 06:51 AM
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The link points to restaurants around certain areas only..
There are numerous. restaurants and bars on Jorge Juan (and in other parts of upscale Salamanca) -
many of them excellent .
danon is online now  
Jan 5th, 2019, 08:06 AM
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OReilly64, your Madrid Epilogue reflected our sentiments perfectly! Thanks so much for a wonderful report!
tomarkot is offline  
Jan 5th, 2019, 11:52 AM
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I am just seeing this report and was glad to be able to read it in its entirety rather than in installments. What a treat!

And now I want to go to Madrid.
Nikki is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 03:35 AM
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Yes, lots of places missing from Jorge Juan, Retiro or even Ponzano. I had dinner there last year with Marigross, a tiny place called Arima. There are plenty of nice places there, either for dinner or just for tapas.

The thing with Madrid is, that it is big, so we tend to go certain areas and forget others. I think that Revulgo tends to classic haunts, more near the touristic centre, and that´s good for a first visit, but after a couple of times, it is good to change

Bye, Cova

Ps. Sorry, just went through Revulgo´s list. Not bad list of cocktail places, and I really admire him for having the time to compile it. Do you have a webpage?

Last edited by cova; Jan 6th, 2019 at 03:45 AM.
cova is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 08:39 AM
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My list was made to indicate events, performances, markets and temporary exhibitions. Then, I added a new layer for eateries, just to name a few, that contained a bit of everything. It also does not cover the entire Madrid area but the central areas where tourists usually wander. This could be a never-ending list if I also pointed out of Laredo, La Raquetista, La Castela, Salino, La Monteria, Taberna Pedraza etc. -- only in the Retiro neighborhood --
Revulgo is offline  

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