Rastro in Madrid: Go or forget it?

Oct 12th, 2007, 09:12 AM
  #1  
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Rastro in Madrid: Go or forget it?

The Rastro on Sunday in Madrid has been on our schedule. Yet, everyone and every guide says it swarms with pickpockets. Moreover, Rick Steves warns tourists have been assaulted and robbed by gangs of young thieves, with no police in sight. We're older, have no big interest in antiques and even less in flea markets except for the people and local color. Should we skip the Rastro? I note there are other markets, such as a stamp and coin market in the Plaza Mayor. (Actually, we like old bookstores.) Leaving Thursday October 18, so thanks for your quick comments.
parkhill24 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 09:19 AM
  #2  
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Just to add -- we're experienced European travelers.
parkhill24 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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>>Yet, everyone and every guide says it swarms with pickpockets. Moreover, Rick Steves warns tourists have been assaulted and robbed by gangs of young thieves, with no police in sight. We're older, have no big interest in antiques and even less in flea markets<<

So why would you want to go? I'm also an experienced European traveler, but I avoided going there.
Zerlina is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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The following is from Maribel's Guide to Madrid:

A note regarding El Rastro Sunday morning Flea Market - Iím not really a fan of the watch-your-wallet and the bottoms of your pants Sunday morning flea market of El Rastro, with its hordes of people and provocative characters and hippie, sixties merchandise, including tie-dye shirts and the like, but there are some good, reputable antique stores in the area such as Galerías Piquer and Galerías Rivera on Ribera de Curtadores, 29, and, 15. If you decide to make El Rastro your Sunday morning activity, leave all valuables at your hotel and wear a money pouch. Go early to avoid the crush and donít expect any bargains, just kitsch for the most part. What I do enjoy is the post-Rastro scene in the neighborhood tapas bars, which will be bursting at their seams around 1:00.

http://maribelsguide.com
Robert2533 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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well, I can say that the young "entrepreneurs" at the metro stations into the Retiro were a little annoying, too - trying to peddle weed and other, not-so-benign drugs - and hitting on my daughter, which she just shrugged-off. But those impressions didn't really detract from what I thought was one of the perfect Sundays spent in a foreign land. And we had walked down to the Rastro earlier that morning - picking up a pair of faux Morrocan leather panel footstools... one for me & a little one for my grandson. The entire Rastro tour and walk were without incident. But even police in view wouldn't make me feel terribly secure. My daughter commented often during her year study abroad in Madrid that she never saw them actually perform law enforcement!
ronin is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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kja
 
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Hi, parkhill24 -
When I visited Madrid, I did not go to the Rastro, and have no regrets about missing it! But then, I'm not particularly interested in flea markets. . . . I certainly found many other things to enjoy in Madrid. Good luck with your decision!
kja is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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I would say: 'skip the Rastro!'

We go out of our way Sunday morning in Madrid to go to Retiro Park and enjoy all the street performers there. We stay with relatives out near Barajas and, after 9:00 AM Mass we head downtown.

I go to fleamarkets here in the USA; my once-or-twice exposure to Madrid's Rastro was disappointing. It's a Tourist Trap and a waste of time. I prefer Saturday's 'Open Stall' market in Barajas Pueblo (on your right as you enter town just after you exit the M30 expressway or after you pass the Expressway exit coming north on Avda. de Logroño).

There's a book sellers market on the south end of Retiro Park (near Puerta de Atocha), but I don't know if they are open Sundays.

And, the Plaza Mayór is a pretty good place for Coins & Stamps and Religious articles.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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There were plenty of police at the Rastro last May when I visited. I bought some inexpensive but atractive jewelry as gifts. Like any flea market if you are selective it is OK. By the way it is mommouth.
It could be that the young Madrid felons where not thieves but they just saw Rick Steve's TV show and were incensed by its simplicity and lack of understanding of Spain.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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We did go to the Rastro on a Sunday morning, and found it great fun. We had been forewarned about these thieves and pickpockets, but we found no evidence of it at all. And I cannot imagine anyone getting mugged in such a crowded area. Just be aware of the possibility of sticky fingers, and that would be enough security. And my advise would be to go a little early, around 10am, when crowds are a little less, and leave by 11:30am, when the place starts getting very crowded. I think you will enjoy the flea market, with a lot of goodies available.
indiancouple is offline  
Oct 12th, 2007, 07:08 PM
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Instead of the Rastro, we went to the Museo del Traje on a Sunday.
It was peaceful, quiet & interesting.
amsdon is offline  
Oct 15th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your views and tips. My vote on the Rastro: No. My wife? She refuses to vote absentee.
parkhill24 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 06:39 AM
  #12  
car
 
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I will recomend to skip the rastro on Sunday morning for the mentioned reasons , plus must of the shops are closed as the commerce is concentrate on the street stands.(And you dislike flea markets)
But I do recomend to go for a walk around the area any other time of the week at shop opening hours, it is a nice and pintoresque part of Madrid and even if you are not very interested in antiques, the are good shops in the area. Plus cute bars for tapas.
The stamp and coin market in Plaza Mayor is limited in size and quality.For old books you have the recently remade, " cuesta de Moyano", and a temporary show with about 100 stands along "El paseo de recoletos"
So depending when your are visiting Madrid you may still find it.
car is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 07:12 AM
  #13  
 
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It is obviously possible to go to the place and not be pickpocketed, especially if you've been warned ahead of time.

A couple of years ago when we went it was simply what everyone sayd it is...a big flea market (mainly) filled with Eurojunk and also some new stuff.

IMO...not worth the time unless you're into that sort of thing.
Dukey is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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went to rastro and was a little disappointed. new souvenir tatt, only a couple of antiques stores and stalls here and there with wares on display (and prices that were a bit of a joke)
and it wasnt as extensive as i had pictured. however its a great place to get brunch.
i would never be put off going somewhere because of warnings of pickpockets.
if that were the case, you should avoid: subway/underground in every major city, train stations, bars, busy streets etc......
travel_buzzing is offline  
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