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Madrid has much less to offer than Barcelona...

Madrid has much less to offer than Barcelona...

Jul 6th, 2014, 02:15 PM
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The large park in Madrid is call Retiro.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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Rent a car and head north of Madrid toward Sepulveda.

On the way stop at Somosierra and visit Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. Somosierra is a site of a 1808 battle.

Near Sepulveda is the Hoces del Rio Dureton Natural Park. Great scenery and hikes.

Head south to Pedraza.

Head south from Pedraza. via road #SG612 and then a heart stopping M637 through a beautiful pine forest, with lots of hiking opportunities.

We did this last month, hiked for about three hours, spend a couple in Pedraza, and were back in time for supper at our hotel near Barajas.

cdnyul is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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...Hmmmm.... Let's explore the idea of a Valencia day-trip... It's less than 2 hours trip each direction... The photos from there are very interesting, the contrast of old and modern — Intriguing.... Can we do it in a day (take an early morning train, come back at 11)? Probably with an organized tour?
mamamia2 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:30 PM
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for me Barcelona wins hands down - been to Madrid several times and the loudness of traffic whirling practically everywhere - the boringly modern tower blocks, etc just don't make a romantic effect many folks want in their cities.

Barcelona has that in most of the centre IME - Madrid just in a few areas IME and I have walked and jog many many miles around it so have seen most areas.

Madrid has tantalizing day trips - Toledo, by any reckoning one of Europe's most old-worldish cities - would have 4 Michelin green guide stars if they allowed it - Salamanca is a great one - lively university city - Segovia and Avila both superb (have not been to la Cuenca) and then you have Aranjuez, the Spanish Versailles in between Madrid and Toledo and El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen - Fascist Franco's lavish testimony to himself - all easy day trips from Madrid by train.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:42 PM
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Valley of the Fallen- Fascist Franco's lavish testimony to himself

Lavish? You mean the one built with slave labor and shrouded in continual controversy?
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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" modern tower blocks". ?????
I must have missed those. ( other than in the northern. - business part of the city)

Except for Paris ( and not all of it), travelers looking for a " romantic" experience might
wish to explore smaller cities rather than one with the population of 3.2 million ( metropolitan
5.8 million).
danon is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 03:17 PM
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From a Madrilenian point of view, Madrid offers good museums like the Thyssen-Prado-Sorolla-Descalzas-Tne Archaeologic , along with Summer Cultural Agenda, "Los veranos de la Villa" , the Opera Theatre (and the Opera's Cafe) and the majestic Royal Palace.
The Plaza Santa Ana is a right place to go to have some pinchos late in the evening.
Surroundings like Avila, Segovia, Escorial, Cuenca & Albarracin village can be easily visited if you plan it in advance
francinatra is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 05:42 PM
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I have been to Madrid twice more since then - on business. On these trips to europe I usually add a couple of days at the end for myself - but didn't in Madrid since I just couldn't find anything else I really wanted to do (had seen the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor and two major museums - the rest was not tempting).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 06:16 PM
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ekscrunchy, excited to read your report...

asps, thanks, those Corpus Christi cookies, that's the kind of unusual places we'd be glad to visit...

More and more I see another day-trip, besides Toledo, being planned...
mamamia2 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 06:28 PM
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Here are two of my fairly recent reports that mention Madrid:


I was not feeling well for a couple of days during this stay in Madrid, so the Madrid section of the report is abbreviated:

ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 06:36 PM
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Then also take a look at the Rastro, which is only on Sundays and could be the world's largest flea market filled with both crap and interesting items and the Royal Tapestry Factory.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 08:35 PM
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I prefer Barcelona to Madrid, but the museums in Madrid are pretty impressive. And Toledo is an amazing town, worth an overnight. I enjoyed the Valley of the Fallen as well.
FHurdle is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 09:38 PM
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Madrid is very much worth four days. Apart from the world class museums, the very different local feel districts that make up the center of town, the parks, the fabulous tapas bars and restaurants, the theaters, the concerts, the best bars and nightlife in Spain etc, I've previously posted these suggestions for Madrid:

Have breakfast or lunch at Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes in down town Calle Alcalá, 42. One of the city's most emblematic cafés. Grab a window table and watch Madrid life on bustling Calle Alcalá. Take the lift up to the roof topp terrace (the azotea) for great views of the city. http://www.esmadrid.com/en/cargarApl...ntificador=179

Watch the sunset over the Guadarrama mountains from the terrace at El Ventorrillo in the Vistillas park. Great pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), some say the best in town. Map, video and some pictures: http://11870.com/pro/restaurante-ventorrillo

Have lunch or some tapas at Casa Granada, on the 6th floor of an apartment building just off Plaza Tirso de Molina. Hard to find and an excellent terrace. http://www.tripfilms.com/Travel_Vide...ada-Video.html

Café Central, just off bustling Plaza Santa Ana, is a fabulous jazz venue with live performances from the best artists every night at 10. Artists shift every week. Entrance 15€. Good food also. Populart, a little further down the street, is also a great place. http://www.cafecentralmadrid.com/

Experience world class flamenco at one of the best tablaos. Madrid is arguably the flamenco capital of the world. Although the art form comes from the South (Andalucía), everybody has to conquer Madrid to get to the top. On their way there, or as an opportunity to try out new things and get an up close audience, many of them work the top tablaos. I recommend Casa Patas and Cardamomo, both close to Plaza Santa Ana.

A stroll in the beautiful Retiro Park. http://www.aviewoncities.com/madrid/parquedelretiro.htm

Asturian Casa Mingo for the best grilled chicken and cider: http://www.casamingo.es/
Watch the video, and you're sold:

Txirimiri in Calle del Humilladero, 6 gives you an idea of why the Basque kitchen is considered among the best in the world. In the midst of one of the best tapas/restaurant districts in town, in and around Calle Cava Baja in La Latina.

I never leave Madrid without having had the squid in its own ink and the famous cod at Casa Revuelta, also in the same district.

The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum. The second floor with Picasso, Dalí, lots of other painitings, posters, films, photos etc., dealing with a couple of the greatest civilizational breakdowns of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War and WWII, completely blew my mind off a couple of years ago.
(And of course Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums)

This is the best Madrid guide, always updated info on theaters, concerts, events etc.: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/portal.do
kimhe is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:20 PM
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As a Spanish (Basque) local, I´ve always preferred Madrid to Barcelona. More lively, less touristy, bars are more fun and "authentic", museums are great, street life is more interesting, less tourist traps (although there´re plenty in both cities)...Both cities are great to visit, as they´re so different in so many aspects.
mikelg is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 11:52 PM
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I am so glad I been to BCN. This video makes it look so over crowded now.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 12:08 AM
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While I seriously like both cities with a certain bias for Barcelona, I do understand those who say that within the city limits Barcelona has more sights to visit. Barcelona has no seriously triple A world-class museums like the "big three" in Madrid - but has tons of, let's say, double and single A sights.
So, BCN might be more appealing as there are more places to actually visit. In contrast to Madrid, where I agree with PPs part of the fun is to explore the vibe of the different neighborhoods. As long as you dare to stray away from the usual Gran Via/ Paseo de Prado/ Royal Palace triangle. But even within the touristy neighborhoods you find nice places to sample the Spanish cuisine(s) or just hang for a few drinks.

Plus you have Madrid as THE perfect hub to explore a multitude of destinations nearby. I'm not sure if I'd go as far as Valencia for just a day. Toledo is the usual subject, Aranjuez, Escorial, Alcala and Pardo (sp?) palace could be others.

Even though somewhat touristy (or just perfectly maintained), I did like Cuenca a lot. And it also has the perfect size to handle for a day trip. While Cuenca should be easily in reach by train (don't know, had a car), it could also make for a perfect day trip with a rental car.
We picked up our car at a location east of Retiro, easily accessible by Metro, and within 1km of R-3 to take us out of the city without inner-city driving. After a while you will have left the Madrid region behind you and have the sunburnt plains of Castilla La Mancha in sight.. roman amphitheatre ruins halfway to Cuenca make a nice stop, or go straight for Cuenca.
After exploring the town (which may be somewhat strenous in the late AM/midday heat) and having lunch, you still have time to drive a little loop into the frontrange of the mountains to the Enchanted "City". An impressive area in the woods with all kinds of bizarre , natural rock formations.
Continuing the loop, the road will take you to some beautiful lookout points over the river valley and the higher mountains towards Aragon. I think you can also refresh yourself in the river which is just 10minutes driving away.. or at least get your sore feet into the cold water.

Central Spain will probably be smoking hot still in September. But the extreme climates of the plains have shaped the architecture and lifes of people so it may even help to "immerse" yourself into the real thing than just watching from a climate-controlled compartment of a train or car or bus.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 02:53 AM
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Toledo is a very easy day trip from Madrid, and well worth the visit. We had a rental car, but I had looked up the train schedules in the planning stage.

Segovia is another very easy day trip; maybe a fraction less interesting to me than Toledo, but they are neck-and-neck. I first visited Segovia in 1986 and have a soft spot for the city.

In 1986, I visited Ávila by bus and train from Segovia, and found it a bit of a pain. Probably it's easier from Madrid. In 2004, we drove there from Salamanca. In my opinion, Ávila has much less to offer than Toledo and Segovia: a nice city wall, and a few interesting churches. Toledo has many significant architectural and historical sites. Segovia has a very nice castle, fairly well-maintained city walls, and an attractive center.
bvlenci is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 04:52 AM
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Thank you, Cowboy, for that very helpful information (and thanks to all others who contributed here). Side trips to Toledo and Segovia are often talked about as "musts" for visitors to Madrid, but there are a number of other destinations within day-trip range, as you discussed.

And for the food-obsessed, one of the heartlands of roast lamb--the area around Sepulveda--is an easy one-night side trip from the Spanish capital. A bit further on, the La Vera Valley of smoked paprika fame (PImenton de la Vera), the cherries of the Jerte.

Report about a week traveling in a vague circle around Madrid..lots of food talk, so be forewarned; I would love to repeat this drive, lingering for more time in a few spots:

ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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My two very brief stays in Madrid were so much fun that I would be happy to return. The Plaza Santa Ana is vibrant late into the night. Flamenco at Casa Patas was an eye opener, much more intense and compelling than my previous idea of flamenco. I liked the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum best of the three major museums, with little known works by major artists and major works by less-well-known artists.
Nikki is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 07:21 AM
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Alcala de Henares, Aranjuez and Chinchon
destinations easily reach from Madrid ( no train to Chinchon) we enjoyed.
danon is online now  

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