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Our trip to Spain Part 3: Attractions. Madrid

Our trip to Spain Part 3: Attractions. Madrid

May 22nd, 2001, 04:31 AM
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Our trip to Spain Part 3: Attractions. Madrid


We found Madid to be a so-so destination, at best. Unless you are an avid art lover, there isn’t that much to see. The architecture is interesting, but that wears off quickly. We arrived late afternoon and walked around Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. There’s really not much to see at Plaza Mayor, while Puerta del Sol bustles with activity. Nightlife in Madrid is amazing. Midnight on Wednesday night had people out everywhere. Young people, old people, families with babies. Just amazing. They light up the buildings very impressively, too.

The next day we started at the Royal Palace, which was very impressive. After lunch we walked the Gran via over to the Prado. The Gran Via was a bit of a disappointment, nothing really to see. We were going to stop in Chicote for a drink, as guidebooks recommend, but it proved to be less interesting than advertised, so we skipped it. After a great amount of difficult in navigating the huge traffic circles we arrived at the Prado.

Now let me stop here for an editorial. The best advice I could give any traveler is this: don’t be bullied by guidebooks. Every book says the Prado is the big attraction. Well, I should have asked myself the simple question – “If there were a Goya exhibit downtown at home, would I jump and scream ‘Great!’ and zoom down as fast as possible?” The answer is no, so why would I do it on a trip? In fact, I found the Prado a complete bore, a bunch of large paintings done in murky colors. This is great art the way Dickens is great writing: it was done for different people at different time, but if you wrote it today, no one would be praising you as one of the greats. (BTW We met several other travelers who are art lovers, but also found the Prado disappointing. They all preferred the Thyssen.)

All I am saying is, as that Laertes guy said, “be true to yourself.” Don’t turn a trip into an exercise in crossing off of a list as many starred attractions as possible. Keep an open mind, but do what you enjoy and don’t be bullied by guidebooks into stuff that doesn’t interest you. End of Editorial.

We next went out to the Salamanca district . The guidebooks say that Ortega y Gasset is the main shopping street, but in fact, it is Serrano. Anyway, there was nothing a all to see. Wealth has no ethnicity, so we saw the same fancy stores that you see in any big city back. Corte Ingles was the same. It looked exactly like and department store anywhere, except for the “Fantistica” signs hanging from the ceiling. We did very little shopping on this trip.

When returned to Madrid for our final day, we walked around Retiro park. Just another park, except for a couple of interesting buildings.

All in all, Madrid was a disppointment. One day was plenty, so we spent the next two days making trips, including one that my wife and I have fondly named, “The Day From Hell.” Read it and be warned.

Next: El Escorial, Segovia and Toledo

May 22nd, 2001, 05:25 AM
Brian in Atlanta
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Keep 'em coming eddiemars. You're opinionated insights are a breath of fresh air here.
May 22nd, 2001, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for your comment. Too many people travel so determined to have great time that they go into denial about the stuff that's less than great. You might say that they turn into the Stepford Tourists: "This is great...I will love this...I don't mind paying $80 for a taxi ride...Overcharge me, please..."

I remember one person who wrote who great Las Casa de Juderia was and then casually mentioned that the bill was huge because they charged her for stuff that she hadn't ordered! (They tried that with us. A fruit tray arrived while we were out and we wrote a note saying to take it away, we didn't order it." They left a note saying that they do it for all the guest. But they didn't say it was free, which it wasn't.) The same person would probably have been outraged if McDonald's had charged her an extra 5 cents, but she was on holiday and was deadly determined to have good time.

May 22nd, 2001, 06:36 PM
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Again with the fruit at La Juderia! I have heard about this charging for the fruit in another posting from someone else. Then read that things have changed and they don't charge for it any more. Now you came back recently and say that they do! I'm heading over there soon! What is the deal with this fruit? Why would they charge you (seems like a cheap scam!!)
May 22nd, 2001, 06:56 PM
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It was me, already, with the fruit at Las Casas de la Juderia in Sevilla. I paid for los fruitos, I was a fool! I didn't know what the drill was, I was in a country where Idid not speak the language, which was a first for me in many years of travel - I could read a newspaper and order tapas but I couldn't have a reasonable conversation with a guy rolling a fruit cart through the hotel. PLEASE!! I have since learned, or rather remembered, I wasat this hotel in the year of the Madrid Expo, when everything was WAY overpriced, so my experience is probably not relevant. That said, I also found Madrid to be a so-so destination and was glad to see someone else say so. The nightlife also amazed me too. No way this Nordamericana can geton that schedule, much as I tried....
May 22nd, 2001, 07:20 PM
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Hi eddiemars, of course everyone to their own taste, but we did enjoy the Prodo for the most part. What disappointed us that there was nothing in English even though so many visitors are English speaking. We did hire a translator (for an outrages amount), which made a large difference. I think Goya has expressionless paintings, but with the explanation of what he was know for ie the placement of the subjects, it was at least more interesting ie in one painting he had the queen more pronounced and in front of the king wich was very unusual. He did that because the queen was really the power and the king was browbeaten. My favorite, however, was La Mininis(sp), especially with not only the eyes of everyone following you from side to side but also the dogs head following you. Even more interesting to me was seeing the Picasso progression of stitches of his moving toward cubism.
May 23rd, 2001, 02:53 AM
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I was, in fact, going to mention that everything was in Spanish, not a word in any other language. I'm sure that the stories behind some of the paintings was more interesting that the paintings themselves.

This reflects a general attitude in Spain. They want people to come from all over the world to see attractions like the Prado. Then they generally refuse to help you by putting information in other languages or by having even minimal signs to help you find anything. It was a blight on what otherwise was a wonderful trip.
May 23rd, 2001, 04:57 AM
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I agree with Eddie's opinion of Madrid (and I am enjoying your trip reports very much!) except that for me, an admitted art buff, the museums were what made visiting the city worthwhile. Did you miss the Velazquez paintings at the Prado? Amazing! The one of the royal family blew me away... I think I stood in front of it for a good half hour. Also, art always has to be taken in cultural context. Goya was amazing for his time; the reason he wouldn't be appreciated if he were painting now is because art has, for the most part, moved way beyond any attempts at verisimilitude.

The Reina Sofia is a must see. What an amazing collection of modern art. My friends and I almost knocked over an installation piece and were kicked out of that room by the guard! Yikes.

May 23rd, 2001, 04:59 AM
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We were stayed at Casa de Judieria in May 2000.We did not receive nor were we charged for any fruit.For what its worth I enjoyed Madrid and the Prado.
May 23rd, 2001, 05:47 AM
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Same thing here. We stayed at the Juderia last April and was not offered nor charged anything extra. We requested pricing for bullfight and flamenco show and compared them with prices we got when we arrived in Seville and decided for the difference, we'll do it ourselves. Re Prado, yes, there was no brochure in English but for the equivalent of $.50, booklets were available for Velazquez, Goya and El Greco. I bought them all and made a good souvenir.
Jan 24th, 2010, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 12
I thought my old trip report might be worth reactivating. It’s probably a bit outdated, especially prices, but it still has a lot of useful, realistic, information.
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