Hello from Madrid!

Old Apr 8th, 2001, 04:51 AM
  #1  
Maira
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Hello from Madrid!

Greetings from a beautiful and sunny Sunday in Madrid; so much to see and do. I just came back from Museo de Americas; an incredible collection of pre-Colombian artifacts and exhibits showing another aspect of Spain' history not to be overlooked. This was followed by a great lunch at 'El Asador de Aranda' restaurant. Beautiful processions all over the city are poignant reminders of the beggining of the Holy Week.

To future Madrid travelers, I'll post upon return, but feel free to e-mail directly.
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 05:11 AM
  #2  
luiris
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hola Maira,
I'm from San Juan, Puerto Rico and I'm travelling to Spain next May 9 to May 19. I'm booked with an excusion with Trafalgar's, but I will stay two additional days in Madrid. Let me know about the optionals in Madrid and their prices. I will appreciated your help. Thanks
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 05:12 AM
  #3  
Santa Chiara
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Maira, I will be in Madrid for a few days at the end of April on business. But I also want to do some site seeing. I am really interested in your reports, so keep them coming. And thanks for posting "live."
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 05:39 AM
  #4  
Rex
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Hi, Maira!

Lucky you! Thanks for your (snail mail) card. I'll write more in person later, so that you have an e-mail in your box to look forward to. How long are you in Spain? Going anywhere else?

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Old Apr 8th, 2001, 07:39 AM
  #5  
Gloria
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Hello from the US (sniff, sniff!)!
Lucky you! We were in beautiful Madrid just last year. I really liked the city!
Are you going anywhere else, Maira? Keep us informed! I'm there in thought with you!
Gloria
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 11:55 AM
  #6  
Maira
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Hey gang! Oh, my gosh, all you Madrid-bound people, get ready for a city that truly never sleeps!

Just back from Segovia today. I am heading out for some tapas at Plaza Mayor (La Torre del Oro). I will definitely post upon return!
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 12:00 PM
  #7  
Thyra
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Maira,
Happy travels, keep us updated!!!
 
Old Apr 9th, 2001, 07:51 PM
  #8  
Abby
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I will be travelling to Madrid at the beginning of June and have a pretty planned out trip. What in Madrid is a "must see?" And what is an interesting town, not too far from Madrid to visit for a day or two? Thank You
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 10:16 AM
  #9  
Gloria
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Maira, I saw your posts this a.m. Welcome back from Spain! It sounds like you have a great trip! Tell us more!
Gloria
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 02:16 PM
  #10  
Maira
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While I am trying fast and furiously to catch up with hubby, home, work, pets, spring, etc, etc..., I also attempt to write a concise, but useful trip report. I realized there are people heading out to Spain very soon, so I'll try to answer some of those inquiries first.

Luis, if you are heading to Spain with Trafalgar, then Avila, Toledo and Segovia may already be on the itinerary. If not, do not miss them. If choosing a day tour, Julia Tours was good, also Pullmantour. DO NOT do Avila and Toledo the same day. It may be offered to you, do not take it. If you do Avila-Segovia full day, don't take the lunch option. This way you'll have time on your own in Segovia (you will love this town!). In Toledo, take the half-day tour and return to Madrid on the train on your own, if you feel comfortable doing that. Again, this will allow for time on your own. I recommend a guided visit to Toledo; this city is way too interesting and historical to just stroll around for the first visit. Segovia can be done on your own; the Alcazar is totally S. XX reconstructed inside anyway and the Cathedral, although very spectacular, has similar elements as every other Cathedral in Spain (don't miss the Virgen Blanca, a 12th Century statue saved from the fire at the Alcazar in the 15th Century).

Santa Chiara, the Plaza Mayor in Madrid is the place to head out for a nice stroll. Try to get to Calle de los Cuchilleros (Street of the Carvers). The oldest restaurants and bars in Madrid are in this street, so named because in it were located the men dedicated to the fabrication and sales of knifes (we are talking 14th and 15th Century). This location was logical as it is located just kitty-corner with Plaza Mayor, the old site of Madrid's meat markets. A favorite Tapas bar located at Plaza Mayor was La Torre del Oro. Their Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce) is outstanding, specially when paired with a Mahou beer. Be forewarned that this is a typical Andalucian Tapas Bar and the walls are covered with pictures and bullfighting memorabilia. Specifically, there are many pictures of bullfighters right at the moment when the bull is about to be killed or when they have been killed by the bull. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

The Reina Sofia just inagurated the Pablo Picasso temporary exhibit. Strongly recommend it. The Thyssen was great; pretty impressive and eclectic collection. El Prado is El Prado; just magnificent.

More to come.
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 02:45 PM
  #11  
Maira
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Luis--- I just noticed that you'll be in Spain during the Festivities of San Isidro, the patron saint of bullfighting. Madrid is just electric during this time period. There are free concerts at Plaza Mayor with great performers, dancing and parades on the streets; it is just an amazing party every night! Just a little practical note, take earplugs for sleeping if staying anywhere near Gran Via and Paseo del Prado.

Also, ever since Spaniards "discovered" Cuba again, they are are going nuts for everything Caribbean. It was so funny to hear "La Pollera Colora" in rumba flamenca tempo, I had to buy the CD. Loved it. Oh, by the way, I am also from Puerto Rico Que gozes!!
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 03:34 PM
  #12  
Elwood
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Maira, I will also be in Madrid, as a solo traveller, from May 11-16. I know that San Isidro is officially on May 15 but do you know if there are festivities that happen on the weekend prior (May 11-13)? Thanks!
 
Old Apr 13th, 2001, 04:23 PM
  #13  
Maira
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Elwood-- typically the festivities begin 2-3 days prior to May 15th and run for about 7-8 more days. You may be able to see the preparation for the procession at the Church of San Isidro Labrador at Calle Toledo, even days prior. The bullfights in Madrid during this time are the best, and run for about 20 days. The following website usually post the itinerary and activities for the month. I am almost certain San Isidro will receive ample coverage on their May edition: http://www.timeout.com/madrid/

Have a great time!
 
Old Apr 14th, 2001, 09:01 AM
  #14  
Maira
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To the top for Madrid-bound travelers.
 
Old Apr 14th, 2001, 09:44 AM
  #15  
Maribel
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Maira,
Saludos y gracias por tu valioso informe!
Me alegro tanto de que lo hayas pasado bomba con "los gatos"-es cierto que en Madrid nunca se duerme!

For Elwood and other Madrid-bound travellers in May:
You can read about the origens of the Feria de San Isidro at
http://www.spainalive.com/spain/fies...SanIsdrio.html
It commences May 8, and after the official city holiday on May 15, and it goes on for week more. The bullfighting "feria de San Isidro" (www.las-ventas.com) starts May 12 and ends June 9.

Before you leave, besides the Time Out Madrid guide, you might want to check www.softguides.com/guia_madrid for updated info about the goings on. If you read Spanish, also check www.guiadelocio.com for a complete list of events. It's similar to Pariscope and lists everthing that's doing in Madrid. Also in Spanish only: http://madrid.lanetro.com/
 
Old Apr 15th, 2001, 03:48 PM
  #16  
jbering
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Maira -
Hi! I'll be travelling to Madrid at the end of May and plan to stay there till early June.

I plan to join the Pullmantur tour. Is it alright if I just booked the tour when I get to my hotel (Europa)? Do you know if they offer 4- or 5-day tours to the Andalucia region?

Which tour group should I join to see Avila and Segovia? Are they day tours? How much does it cost? Where does the bus depart? When are the tours?

Any advice on what to do on a Sunday afternoon and Monday in Madrid?
Thanks!
 
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 04:16 AM
  #17  
Maira
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Maribel--- Thank you for the kind words . Where are you going next in Spain?

Jbering--- I found out there are three major tour companies in Madrid that offer very similar day tours at similar prices and very similar quality, every day of the week. These are Julia Tours, Pullmantour, and Marsans. All these companies also offer some kind of packaged trip to Andalucia, typically 5-8 days duration, the only difference seems to be the hotels where you'll be staying. They offer many variations of Andalucia; Seville, Granada are always included. Trapsatur offer very good hotels with their packages, their pace is quite hectic, but not much different from every other tour company. You may want to try to do these arrangements ahead of time. Either try to get to their website or a travel agent. As an example of prices, a 5-day tour to Andalucia, including Toledo is around $440/pp (staying at their top hotels), breakfast, lunches, tickets, guide, transportation included. Like I mentioned, they all have very, very similar deals.

For day tours I selected Julia Tours because I was staying in Gran Via and their office was just some blocks down the street. The tour can be arranged at your hotel. They will give you a voucher which you present the day of the tour at the Tour company counter. Day tours depart from their agency at about 9:30-9:45am. Their buses are comfortable, good guides, the tours are in both Spanish and English. I highly recommend the half-day tour to Toledo, even recommend that you stay in Toledo and come back by train/bus on your own. For a first visitor to this interesting and historical city I would urge a guided visit and then explore on your own. They offer three tour; Toledo full day (lunch included; $45/pp), Toledo half-day (8:45am-1pm; $30/pp), Toledo Panoramico (1pm-5pm; just walking tour; $20/pp).

You can do Segovia on your own. Maribel posted the best way to get to Segovia from Madrid (by bus). However, a day tour of Avila-Segovia is not a bad deal; $48/pp includes lunch; . If you do not choose the lunch option, you can use that time to explore Segovia on your own. The group typically split and meet 1 1/2 hour later at the Aqueduct. Avila is an impressive walled city. The bus's first stop in Avila is at a panoramic spot where you can take fantastic pictures of the town. I would take this tour on a Monday; during the weekends you not only have the foreigners, but also the local tourism. You'll get back to Madrid around 6pm; long day, but worth it.

Sunday afternoon all Madrilenos take on the streets. Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, it seems everybody goes for a stroll. Reservations at restaurants are a good idea. Get to La Mallorquina (bakery in a corner at Puerta del Sol) and try one of their pastries with coffee. If not, across the street, another pastry shop, Yenes, has wonderful pastries as well.

I am still working on a trip report, although it seems I may have written one already
 
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 05:45 AM
  #18  
cheryl
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Maira, thanks for all the info. Re guided tour to Toledo, I would assume the 1-day tour ($45/person) includes the transportation, lunch and whole day tour, i.e., leaving/coming back to Madrid at a specific time. We would like to be flexible in our going/coming back, would you know if there is a guided tour that we can get in Toledo that just have whole day guided tour? Thanks again.
 
Old Apr 20th, 2001, 10:26 AM
  #19  
Maira
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Cheryl--- you are assuming right; the $45/pp includes transportation, guided visit, entrance tickets to all sights, lunch, it typically departs from their agency in Madrid at 9:30-9:45am and returns by 6pm. Guided tours could be coordinated also at the Toledo Tourism Office located just outside the Bisagra Gate (at least one of them). If you'll rather coordinate this arrangement from the U.S., their phone number is 011-34-92-525-4030.
 

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