Madrid... museums, shops, restaurants

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Sep 29th, 2004, 07:15 PM
  #1
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Madrid... museums, shops, restaurants

I have limited time during a business trip to Madrid in October to explore. I'll be staying at the Ritz which is next to the Prado.

Please recommend must see museums and/or other sites for me to choose from... quaint restaurants (not concerned with the price, more interested in the food and the "experience") ... good places to listen to music.

One last thing. I love purchasing ceramics/pottery/jewelry and other crafts when I travel. any suggestions on your favorite shops?
mbtnyc is offline  
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Sep 29th, 2004, 07:38 PM
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Since you'll be staying at the Ritz, then the museum triangle, the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisa is a must. This will consume most of your day, if not longer.

For lunch, you can try the tapas at the tavern/bar "Cervantes", located on C/ Duque de Medinaceli, within easy walking distance of the Reina Sofia. For dinner, might I suggest the Hotel International Castellana which is offering a new Asian-French and Mediterranean menú through the end of October. We where there for dinner on Friday and it was excellent.

Try to ignore the new Starbucks in the Plaza España, one of several that have sprung up in the city recently. Rather disgusting to say the least (and I'm a stockholder).

If you'd like a quality guide, then you can contact Maria Lourdes Cruz ([email protected]), who works through Turmadrid, the Tourist Board of Madrid. She knows the museums like the back of her hand and can add that much to the experience.
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Sep 29th, 2004, 07:45 PM
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Obviously the Prado, which was a fun experience for all of us. There's one painting by Diego Velazquez de Silva with San Anonio and San Pablo looking up, hands in prayer, at a black raven, I guess holding something in the bird's beak that bore more than a passing resemblance to a Big Mack. We fondly dubbed this one "Praying for a McDonalds". Also can't be beat is the Garden of Earthly Delights, a painting of a poster we all had on our walls in the early '70's. The neat thing, that you didn't know when looking at the cheap poster version, is that the BACK of the painting is also painted on. El Bosco, one weird dude. Since we were with the kids on this trip, I had to spice up the art tours, so I had my son look for all the dogs in all the paintings. I don't know if that was kismet or what, but we get down to the museum shop, and there's this t-shirt they have, the Peros de Prado -- you guessed it, cartooned dogs from all the Prado paintings!

Also loved the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, which is a stone's throw from the Prado.

While in the area, certainly worth a trip to the beautiful Retiro park, where there's the only public statue I've ever seen dedicated to the Devil. Some really beautiful statues and fountains here, and a great place to walk, have a drink, and a quick bite.

A great archetectural wonder is the big post office, I think at the Glorieta Puerta de Toledo. Looks like a palace, it's just amazing.

Food: tapas tapas tapas. Go directly to the Plaza Santa Ana. The later the better. Liked the Cerveceria Alemania there. In the alleyways just across from the Reina Victoria, and down a bit are a bunch of little tapas bars that line the street. Forget the name of our favorite place. The bar in the Reina Victoria is also a neat place to have a drink and look at all the bull heads hanging on the walls (it's where the bullfighters stay when in town).

Liked La Paella de Reina at Calle de la Reina 39, but go late, otherwise it's dead.

It's also fun to go into one of the many "house of hams" (English translation).

For ceramics, I think you should just walk around and see what interests you. My God, you can just check out the outdoor walls of restaurants (one in particular, in the Plaza Santa Ana) and faint from ceramic overload. Try Antigua Casa Talavera to get an idea of what Madrid has to offer by way of ceramics.
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Sep 30th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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I think the above has said it all. The Prado is one of the four greatest (in terms of collection significance and value) art museums in Western Europe. You'll be in "museum heaven" and hopefully they've updated those rooms at the Ritz...sneer at the doorman when you go in and out..I think they expect it.
Have a great trip.
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Sep 30th, 2004, 05:25 AM
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We spent about a week in Madrid last October, and it was beautiful. The leaves were just starting to change in the Retiro.

I agree -- you'll have your hands full, museum-wise, with the big three. But if you are looking for a change of pace from art museums, Madrid also has a fascinating archeological museum that is just a short walk from where you are staying.

(Surfergirl -- LOL, my then-10-year-old also got a huge kick out of that painting in the Prado and couldn't stop talking about the raven with the cheeseburger in its beak; she even drew a picture of it later while we were taking a break at a sidewalk cafe)

I would second the idea of spending some time at one or more of the tapas bars on the Plaza Santa Ana in the evening. In fact, we tended toward tapas over full dinners every evening. My husband posted a trip report on here somewhere, if you search by his screen name (mr_go).

Madrid is a great city for walking around. Maribel has an excellent walking route for old Madrid that lasts maybe a couple of hours and will take you by the Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, etc.

http://www.maribelsguides.com/

Enjoy!
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Sep 30th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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Naturally everyone will recommend the Prado, which is magnificent. One museum I loved was the Museo de las Americas, its on the university grounds, a bit away from the center of Madrid, but a very well done museum with an impressive collection of things from the Americas. Particularly interesting was one of the maya codices, one of the handful still in existence.

crafts-Toledo swords are some of the best in the world. beautiful inlaying of gold thread in swords and other metals
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Sep 30th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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For artworks (Tapices and Frescos, some by Francisco de Goya) don't miss the tour of the Palacio Réal. They offer Tours in English if you don't mind waiting a bit for one. Unlike at the Museo del Prado, photography is (or was) allowed - I videotaped most of our tour once (years ago).
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Sep 30th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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my favorite quaint historic museum and religious home is "convento de las descalzas".
limited entrance every morning.

a drink at night, weather permitting, at the sidewalk cafés next/behind the teatro real, is a must.

la terraza del casino,in the "casino" (club, not gambling site in central madrid) is quite an impressive building and ambience, good food, too.

the new restaurants at the hyatt have gotten good reviews. i have not been there yet.
a fun restaurant near american embassy is "séptimo" for international food, or a great mid-morning snack with delicious cakes and coffee.
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Oct 9th, 2004, 08:37 AM
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Hi mbtnyc,
I'll second the suggestion for Antigua Casa de Talavera (Isabel la Católica #2 Metro: Santo Domingo). This shop contains finely painted ceramics from all over Spain. The fine quality, amazing variety and quantity of ceramics packed into the three rooms and hallway of this shop held our interest for quite awhile. We purchased a lovely blue and white piece with a lid for 20 E. They wrapped it securely in bubble wrap and newspaper so it transported in our checked luggage with no problem.

If you like fine art, the Prado is a must. http://museoprado.mcu.es

Another terrific art museum is Sorrollo's home. (General Martínez Campos, 37 - museosorolla.mcu.es/ Metro - Ruben Dario or Alonso Martínez)

Sorolla was Spain?s greatest impressionist painter and it is delightful to linger in the gardens surrounding his home, see his studio and view so many of his finished masterpieces. Sorolla must have been quite well to do in his day.

His home is filled with lovely painted wooden saint?s statues, fine religious art objects, antiques, ceramics and many, many of his paintings. The cellar contains a fabulous ceramics collection. The lovely gardens surrounding his home hold peace and visual feasts: tile, sculpture, fountains, water pools and plants.

The the 16th Century Monesterio de las Descalzas Reales is another wonderful place to tour. This is very near the ceramic's store mentioned above.

I'd recommend Posada de la Villa (Cava Baja, 9). (This was the best-smelling restaurant of our trip and the food was amazing!) http://www.posadadelavilla.com/ingles/historia.htm

For music - listen to jazz at Café Central (Plaza del Angel #10). The area behind the stage is a mirrored wall so you can see the musicians from different angles. When we were there in Feb 04 the cover charge was 10 euros (8 euros on Monday nights... you'll need cash rather than plastic). The band played two hours. And, the place was not at all smoky.

And, do get Maribel's guide for Madrid. She offers loads of wonderful suggestions. These include her "Hapsburg walk" as mentioned earlier, sites, practicalities and places to eat and shop.

Have a great trip!

-Sharon
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