Escape the Sol: explore bars and nightlife on its side streets

17 December, 2007 | In: Bars and Cafes, Sol | Comments: 2

by Julie Espinosa

Sol and surrounds

The Puerta del Sol can be one of the most avoidable places in Madrid—what with its tourists, ear-splitting construction racket and general bustle. Steer clear of the Puerta del Sol itself and the streets north, between Sol and Gran Vía, which are teeming with commercial glut—from souvenir shops to seedy sex shops.

Luckily, other streets close to Sol and the lively Plaza de Santa Ana conceal many treasures, transporting you far away from the likes of El Corte Inglés, Mickey and other snares.

For one, there are dozens of tapas bars. I recommend gambas at La Casa del Abuelo (C/ Goya, 57; C/ Núñez de Arce, 5) , patatas bravas at Las Bravas (C/ Álvarez Gato, 3; Pasaje Matheu, 5; C/ de la Cruz, 14 ; C/ Espoz y Mina, 13), and tostas at La Malaspina (C/ Cádiz, 9) , but those are just starting points. Good bars are littered on and around the streets Calle de Espoz y Mina and Calle de la Cruz. Explore and experiment!

Then there’s the plethora of nearby authentic, late-night flamenco actuaciones (shows) in intimate bars—an alternative to the pricier, fancier tablao experience. The music and dance starts after 11 or 12 p.m. on certain nights of the week at El Callejón de Madrid (C/ Manuel Fernández y González, 5) , El Burladero (C/ Echegaray, 5), España Cañí (Plaza del Ángel, 14) and Cardamomo (C/ Echegaray, 15) .

Round off a night well spent in the Sol/Santa Ana area by having chocolate con churros at nearby Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo San Ginés, 5), open all night long.

For directions to the places mentioned above, see map below: Read more »

The Reina Sofia Museum - Modern Art in Madrid

14 December, 2007 | In: Culture, Atocha | Comments: 2

by Katie Goldstein

Reina Sofia liftThe Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía houses the modern art portion of Madrid’s Golden Triangle in a former hospital. The mostly 20th-century Spanish art collection is well suited to the vast spaces of the hospital: the Reina Sofía may be Madrid’s most accessible and well-organized major art museum.

I’d recommend whizzing up to the second floor in one of the über-modern glass elevators to begin your tour. This is where you’ll find Picasso, Dalí, Miró, and Gris: the heart of the permanent collection. One of my favorite rooms on the second floor, though, is beyond Guernica in the tiny sala 8, which is home to photos of Madrid taken during the Guerra Civil—the Telefónica building barricaded with sandbags and the like. If you have the time and energy, swing through the fourth floor to catch works from the latter half of the 20th century to present day.

Don’t forget to check out what’s on in the temporary exhibits in the expansion of the museum—they could be well worth it. And keep in mind that there’s plenty to do besides looking at paintings: the courtyard garden of the main building is a lovely place to sit on a nice day, and the cafeteria/restaurant Arola (in the expansion) offers food and drink in a decidedly 21st-century setting. You also shouldn’t miss La Central, the museum’s excellent bookshop.

Free entry: Sat. 14.30-21.00 and Sun. 10.00-14.30. General admission at other times: 6 euros. Closed Tuesdays. More details

Metro: Atocha. Calle Santa Isabel, 52. See map below: Read more »

What is the weather like in Madrid?

12 December, 2007 | In: Travel tips | Comments: 8

by Faye Davies

Another sunny day...

When people ask if I like living in Madrid, I say, ‘No one ever goes to bed and the sky’s always blue. What do you think?’ The former observation is a slight exaggeration (Sunday nights are quiet); but the latter is pretty much true.

Sun doesn’t always equate to heat, however. At the time of writing (early December) we’ve hardly seen a cloud for weeks, but the days are crisp (around 16ºC/61ºF), and the nights are positively bracing (average lows of 3ºC/37ºF). Snow will soon be gracing the nearby mountains of the Sierra, and may touch the city once or twice too.

Madrid is on the same line of latitude as New York, and dwellers of that city won’t be surprised to hear that the chilliness of winter here is balanced by the scorching heat of summer. In July and August temperatures sit stubbornly around 30º(86º), which can prove uncomfortable for many.

At the end of the day though, this is Europe; and outside the peaks of summer and winter, just about anything can happen. It does rain (typically in April and November), and seasonal bleeding isn’t uncommon – so bring your coat in June, and bikini in March.

Highlights and Tips from a Semestre Studying in Madrid

11 December, 2007 | In: Travel tips | Comments: 1

by Michael Loiacono

MikeMichael Loiacono has spent the last 4 months studying at Syracuse Universtiy in Madrid as part of a student exchange program. He’s also been an invaluable intern, helping us out with Notes from Madrid and our other sites. Over at he gives us the rundown on why you should definitely (definitely!) try some time abroad for yourselves, and here are some of the top tips he’s picked up for Madrid:

Madrid is located in the center of Spain. This allows a great deal of ease for great little day trips to outside towns such as Segovia, El Escorial, Aranjuez, and of course Toledo. But, even more it makes traveling to other bigger cities in Spain very doable, Barcelona, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla are all musts and all within a half day’s travel.

I won’t spend much time doling out advice on which bars to go to or which clubs… the fun part is finding them for yourself. However, one of Madrid’s not so hidden but fantastic treasures is the Retiro Park. On warmer days relaxing, eating, reading or evening napping in the park is phenomenal. Who needs beaches anyways?

Madrid is a much more compact city than people expect. Although the Metro is extremely easy, many times it is not any quicker than walking. I strongly encourage you to try and walk places. Maps can be deceiving because they make the city appear much larger than it is. Therefore, I would recommend to bring a good pair of walking shoes. Walking places is a great way to not only see and get a feel for the city, but it’s usually no more time consuming than the buses or Metro.

Having said my bit about walking, there are undoubtedly times when you won’t walk. It happens. And for those times you do spend on the metro, a book is a great way to pass time. Pick a few up before you come over. Trust me, you will not regret it.

USE THE BUSES! Sure the Madrid metro map may be a bit easier to follow and has pretty colored lines. But the buses run all night, allow you to actually see the city, and can save you a great deal of money. Take a minute and try them, in truth they aren’t that difficult.

Finally, I could not write a highlights from Madrid post without a shout out to the nightlife here. I won’t elaborate, but I had always thought that New York City was the city that never sleeps: Madrid easily gives New York City a run for its money!

Don’t forget to check out Michael’s post on the good life of a student abroad at Notes from Spain.

Madrid Neighbourhoods: Chueca, Anything Goes!

10 December, 2007 | In: Bars and Cafes, Chueca | Comments: 3

by Niels Klok

Hanging out in Chueca

Photo: hanging out in Chueca plaza

It has become somewhat of a cliché over the years: neglected neighbourhood with bad name is adopted by gay community and turned hip ‘n’ happening (NYC’s Meatpacking District, or Athens’ Gazi area, to name just two). This is pretty much Chueca’s story too, once a blister on Madrid’s foot, now a be-there-or-be-square phenomenon adorned with adjectives such as grungy, sexy and raw.

As befits a neighbourhood, it has its own square: Plaza de Chueca (where Gravina street hits Barbieri). This is not the place where all (small) roads lead, but its relatively sheltered position gives the plaza its offbeat uniqueness (yes, another adjective). It’s a random empty space between a set of residential buildings, littered with terraces and quirky bars. Have a seat and enjoy your clara (beer and soda) or tinto de verano (red wine and soda).

If you’re not ready yet for anything alcoholic (let’s say it’s 1 PM), head for Mamá Inés (C/ Hortaleza, 22) to have a coffee and a sandwich (or a piece of banana cake!) If you have to replenish your stomach in between anythings alcoholic (read: dinner), plenty of options: tapas with a twist at 4 de Tapas (C/ Barbieri, 4), Mexican food at La Panza es Primero (C/ Libertad, 31), a taste of the Middle East at Al-Jaima (C/ Barbieri, 1), then a bit Further East at Chueca’s The Wok branch (C/ Gravina, 17), or simply the best pita falafel with humus at the Maoz franchise (C/ Hortaleza, 7).

For anything bar-related, either stay close to the Plaza, or simply follow the crowds. Get a bit more loungy at Areia (C/ Hortaleza, 92), leaning back into ample cushions and enjoying your mojito in a Thousand-and-one-Night atmosphere. If you are up for genuinely fitting in with the young and hip, you should not skip Bar Nike (C/ Augusto Figueroa, 22): yes, indeed, that brightly lit “bathroom” on the corner with that huge crowd spilling onto the sidewalk. And while you’re at it, why not go all the way and order Calimocho (red wine with coke (!)) in a mini (one-liter plastic cup)… yes, it’s disgusting, but not as disgusting as you might think.

Finally, let it all out and follow the gay crowds down Gran Vía to (hetero-friendly) Ohm (Plaza Callao, 4 - in Discoteca Bash), a stylish basement all about hard clubbing. If you’re neither into house nor into gay, get in line for rocky/jazzy yet “upbeat” Bogui (C/ Barquillo, 29). And remember to dress up crazy – after all, anything goes in Chueca!

See map below for locations mentioned above: Read more »

Madrid’s Holiday Market and Christmas Tree Shopping

6 December, 2007 | In: How To's / Where To's, Shopping in Madrid, Madrid de los Austrias (Historic Center) | Comments: 1

by Amy Menchhofer

Christmas Market, Plaza Mayor

The holidays are upon us and it’s time to decorate your piso. Christmas trees, holiday lights, nativity scene figurines. Where in Madrid can you shop for decorations?

In a word – Plaza Mayor. The scene of a traditional, frenetic holiday market, the various stalls of the plaza offer all of the above and more. You’ll find entire stalls dedicated to the nativity scene and its players; the creation of a belen in Spain is clearly a labor of love. Detailed baby Jesus can set you back 100€ while smaller, less-important figures are available starting around 9€; stables run well into the hundreds. At the other stalls you’ll find artificial trees (ranging in height from one to ten feet), strings of lights, stockings, and poinsettias.

Although you can also certainly pick up your Christmas tree in the plaza, why not do something good for the world at the same time? Stop over at the Environmental Sciences School in Ciudad Universitaria where they offer potted holiday trees for “rent.” Pick out yours (free delivery for those measuring over 1.25m), dress it up for a few weeks, and once the holidays have passed return the tree to the school. They’ll then plant the tree in their own gardens or out in the wilderness surrounding Madrid. Trees start at 20€ and top-out at 160€ for a 12-foot monster.

Happy holidays and happy shopping!

Belen figures, Christmas Market, Plaza Mayor

Around Madrid: La Pedriza - Wilderness Close at Hand

5 December, 2007 | In: Beyond Madrid | Comments: 1

by Katie Goldstein

La Pedriza, MadridPossibly one of the best things about Madrid is the ease with which you can get away from it all.

The lovely Sierra de Guadarrama lies to the north and northwest of the city, offering great train-accessible hiking. But the closest bit of mountainous wilderness to Madrid is in the southern foothills of the Sierra—in La Pedriza. Just a 45-minute bus ride from Plaza Castilla, La Pedriza is a granite paradise for hikers and climbers, complete with a river (the famed Río Manzanares, or the river-that-runs-through-Madrid-though-you-might-not-know-it because the local government has been busy messing with it to build an underground highway).

Regardless of the condition in which the river reaches the city, it’s still pristine in La Pedriza. There are some lovely swimming holes (I can proudly attest to have bathed there twice in warmer months) and many kilometers of hiking trails through the rocky wilderness. Armed with a good map or one of the handy route descriptions available at the visitor’s center, you can spend a day walking and breathing clean mountain air far from the madding crowd.

The green interurban bus 724 travels from Plaza Castilla to Manzanares el Real at least once every hour and costs 3.10 euros one way. The bus leaves you in the center of town, meaning you have to hoof it several kilometers to reach the park, via either Avda. de la Pedriza (which follows the river north) or the (very helpful) visitor’s center at the western edge of town.

Visitor’s center: 91 853 99 78. La Pedriza is about 50 km north west of Madrid, see map below: Read more »

Around Madrid: a Day Trip to Toledo

4 December, 2007 | In: Beyond Madrid | Comments: 2

by Julie Espinosa

Toledo - Madrid day tripKnown as the “city of three cultures,” medieval Toledo was a relatively harmonious home to Christians, Muslims and Jews for several centuries—and luckily, while the latter two groups have disappeared, traces of their architecture remain. Toledo also conjures associations with El Greco’s artwork and its artisans’ distinctive metalwork.

Toledo makes a great day-trip from Madrid. Go by train: the comfy Avant takes only 30 minutes and at 8.60€ one-way or 15€ round-trip (discount when buying return ticket in advance or in Toledo), it costs little more than the bus.

From the tiled train station, hike up the hill or take bus #22 or #6 to get to the city’s nerve center. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes; you’ll be walking many a cobblestone street. At the tourist stand in the bustling Zocodóver Plaza you can pick up a free map, but at some point, enjoy losing your way in the labyrinth.

I suggest you see these religious buildings, in order of most awe-inspiring to least:

  • Museo Sefardí/Sinagoga de Tránsito (museum of Spanish Jews attached to synagogue)
  • Museo de los Concilios y la Cultura Visigoda (Visigoth church with breathtaking Romanesque frescos)
  • Sinagoga de Santa María la Blanca
  • Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz
  • Mezquita de Tornerías

The last three are free, provided you don’t go inside the Cristo de la Luz mosque (you can see everything from outside) and the rest are 2€ or less.

The main El Greco attraction is the Iglesia de Santo Tomé, where his Burial of Count Orgaz is hung (1,90€). El Greco works can also be seen at the Museo del Greco (closed until early 2008); the Museo de Santa Cruz (1,20€); the Monasterio de Santo Domingo El Antiguo (1,90€); the Hospital de Tavera/Museo Duque de Lerma, outside the city center (4€) and in the cathedral sacristy (6€).

Unfortunately, Toledo’s grand Alcázar is closed while being converted to a military museum but it should re-open sometime in 2008. Don’t miss the city walls, especially the mudéjar Puerta de Sol. Finally, typical Toledan souvenirs include marzipan, gold-inlay damascene jewelery, and swords, if you’re into any of those things.

Toledo is about 80 km South West of Madrid - see map below: Read more »

Madrid: Fancy Flamenco?

3 December, 2007 | In: Culture | Comments: 4

by Faye Davies

If my knowledge of flamenco (and pockets) were deeper, I’d be using this space to give you a concise and comprehensive review of Madrid’s tablaos (flamenco joints). As it is, this post is going to be more of a call for comparison. I’m hoping my ignorance will ruffle the feathers of some Andalusian culture vulture, who’ll spring forth and give us the lowdown…

Personally, I’ve only visited two of Madrid’s flamenco venues: Las Carboneras and El Corral de la Morería (see video above). The latter, as it’s fond of telling you, is the oldest tablao in Madrid, and a firm favourite with Hollywood stars. The décor is traditional, bordering on the twee; the costumes might be described as the same. Las Carboneras aims to be more hip, with a low stage and understated outfits. But both places offer essentially the same thing: dinner followed by an hour-long show. And both feature big stars.

Big prices too. A dinner performance will set you back around 75€. Better to opt for a very early or very late show and forgo the unspectacular food. 25€ (one drink included) is still steep for what you get; but if you yearn to see flamenco dancing in Madrid, Burger King is open until 1:30am.

See websites for programmes and contact details: Las Carboneras (Plazuela del Conde de Miranda, 1); El Corral de la Morería (Calle de la Morería, 17).

See map below for locations (ed. I’ve added Casa Patas): Read more »

Around Madrid: a Day Trip to Segovia - Suckling Pig and a Roman Aqueduct

30 November, 2007 | In: Beyond Madrid | Comments: 5

by Amy Menchhofer

Segovia, Madrid day trip

Want to get out of the city for a day? Already been to Toledo and El Escorial? Set your sights just beyond the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to Segovia. And be sure not to miss the Top 5 must-sees.

Aqueduct, Segovia1. Roman Aqueduct – The 2000 year-old aqueduct is at its most glorious spanning the Plaza del Azoguejo where it stands almost 100 feet (29 meters) high. Its close proximity to the bus and train stations makes the aqueduct a smart first stop and you can get a free town map at the tourist office in the same plaza.

2. El Alcazar – Sitting atop a steep precipice is the 11th century castle. Its manageable size enables you to enjoy the gilded ceilings, tapestries, and stained glass in a couple hours – with or without guide (only offered in Spanish). Be sure to climb the tower for stunning views of the cathedral and town.

3. Shopping – Wander up Calles Juan Bravo and Daoiz. Both streets boast numerous shops of varying quality – from the typical post-card and t-shirt joints to art galleries with original work and several specialty jewelry stores.

4. Church hopping – The cathedral dominating Plaza Mayor is just the beginning. For a town of just under 60,000 Segovia boasts a disproportionate number of churches. The most interesting of them, La Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, is outside the walls, but the half-hour walk down from the Alcazar is worth it to visit the 13th century Knights Templar basilica.

5. Cochinillo – Cut with the edge of a plate, roast suckling pig is THE dish of Segovia. Restaurants offering the specialty, the most famous of which are El Candido and El Duque, abound. Don’t, however, feel limited to these. Follow your nose and you won’t go wrong.

How to get there

Take a bus from the Sepulvedana office in front of Estación Principe Pio, round-trip 11€, about 1 hour 15 minutes, departures every 1/2 hour. Or take the train from either Atocha or Chamartin stations, roundtrip 11.50€, just over two hours, departures every two hours. Service on the high-speed AVE from Chamartin starts in late December.

See below for a map of the places mentioned above: Read more »

Surviving Madrid’s Prado Museum, Part 2 - The Power Tour

29 November, 2007 | In: Culture, Cibeles | Comments: 1

by Niels Klok

Prado museum map

(Continuing from Part 1 - Intro to the Prado…)

Entering the museum through the “Puerta Alta de Goya” (at the top of the stairs outside, so on the first floor), look at your map and head (counter-intuitively) for the basement first (numbers 100-102 on the map) by crossing the entire first floor (24-32) and descending the two flights of stairs. The “Tesoro del Delfín” basement collection is a wonderful amalgamation of pots, vases and other interior decoration that is too easily forgotten among the bombastic paintings above ground.

Move up one flight of stairs and turn left, heading into 72. Numbers 71-74 form a selection of classical sculpture, nice for fans and certainly interesting on account of its not being painting. Turn left after entered 74, and have a brief look at the Italian painters in 75 (remember not to linger!) Cross 47 into 49, disregarding its Italian paintings for a moment; you will come back here later. Turn right (55B) and be surprised by the contrast between Italian and German painting. Straight ahead into 55, turn left (during my last visit, there was no other choice as the “A” rooms on the map were shut off) and pass the mildly interesting Flemish paintings in 56 and 57, turning left again into 57B, and again left into 56B. Don’t go straight ahead, you’ve already been there! Turn right, and you’re back among the Italian paintings of Rafael in 49. Turn right again, cross 50, and: congratulations, you’ve completed 2 out of 4 floors!

Take a hard left, and ascend the stairs: you’re back where you started. Cross the hall into 4; to your left, there is quite a bit of forgettable French painting leading to a dead end. Unfortunately, the paintings by Claude at the far end are gorgeous (now that’s what I call merchandising), so move quickly into number 2 and back again. Straight ahead (5-6) brings you slightly more interesting Italian painting, leading to the only “Dutch room” in the Prado (7). Being the traitor to my country that I am, I couldn’t care less, and move left and immediately right to have a glance at Tiziano (7A-8A). This leads you to the intriguing paintings of El Greco (9A-10A), definitely worth a look. Turning right into 10, this is where Rubens starts. Take another right, crossing 9 and 8, and left again into 8B (not straight ahead, or you’ll be in the Dutch room again). Another left brings you to 9B, and a subsequent right takes you back to the hallway that you have seen before (you can skip 10B, don’t worry).

This is the “heart” of the Prado, littered with Spanish masters. Turn left and have a brief look at 26 and 27, preludes to the big names (forget 25 for the moment). Another left brings you into the realm of Velázquez, impressive if only for the big octagonal room he occupies. There’s more of him when you take a right (14-15), but keep in mind that this part is essentially a dead end: after making a circle, you will have to cross Velázquez again to get back into the grand hallway. When there, go left and start overdosing on Goya: it is more or less the last artist of your Power Tour. Have a quick peek into 16B, and drift through 29 and 32, where you turn right into 35-38. In my opinion, the round Goya paintings here are most worth your attention. Move into the hallway when in 37, and, if you’re up for it, peek into 39 on your right. Then, straight ahead and up the stairs to your right. These lead you to 85, where a happier and more colourful Goya greets you. Take advantage of this joyful spell, move into the hallway and turn right: rooms 90-94 will show you similar Goya paintings. Had you turned left, you would have visited 86-89, a salad bowl of paintings hard to categorize and even harder to recommend. Forget them, and leave with the colours of Goya in your head, moving down the stairs again and along the grand hallway back to where your coat is hanging.

At this point: pat yourself on the back – you have survived the Prado!

Alambique - Cookery Kit and Classes in Madrid

28 November, 2007 | In: How To's / Where To's, Shopping in Madrid | Comments: 1

by Katie Goldstein

Cookery class, Madrid

We’ve covered the bases for you on food shopping, but with what equipment are you going to prepare and serve all that lovely food you’ve just bought? There are, of course, many places to buy kitchenware in this town (from your neighborhood “Euro Bazaar” on up the scale). But if you’re looking for high-quality, hard-to-find, or professional materials plus incredibly knowledgeable staff, head over to Alambique.

Alambique is home to everything from knives and whisks to pots, pans, and ice cream makers, but what really sets it above the rest is that it offers cooking classes of all kinds—right in the store. Among the classes at the school this fall were “Sushi and Sashimi,” a class on cooking with garbanzos (chickpeas), another on knives, as well as series of classes for beginning cooks and those with a little more experience. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Most classes are two-and-a-half hours long. Prices range from about 40 to 90 euros.

Metro: Opera or Santo Domingo. Plaza de la Encarnación, 2. Phone: 91 559 7858 / 91 547 4220. See map below: Read more »

Out-of-hours Madrid: Part I - Shopping

27 November, 2007 | In: Shopping in Madrid | Comments: 3

by Faye Davies

Typical Madrid opening hoursThe scene – or variations thereof – will be familiar to many a non-native Madrileño. Late for a meeting yesterday, I realised I’d run out of deodorant. Horror struck. Not because I’m afflicted with particularly bad BO (to my knowledge), but because it was just past 2:30pm, the time when almost everything becomes unavailable, almost everywhere.

As you might expect, the exceptions tend to be the big players. If you feel like I do about El Corte Inglés, your options are largely limited to specialist chains. Supermarkets Carrefour and Mercadona are fairly ubiquitous. They ensure you won’t go hungry (or smelly), but not much beyond that. For clothes, gifts and electrical goods, the shops around Sol – such as Fnac (books/music/technology), Zara (fashion) and Vodafone (mobile phones) – have generally civilised opening times.

Last, but not least, Chinese-owned shops do a sterling job of providing most things around the clock. Although quality is variable, a discerning eye can land you a bargain in your lunch hour. I recently bought a good Spanish-made espresso maker at my local chino for the price of two coffees.

As for the deodorant, I eventually found it in the Quevedo branch of Gilgo.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Madrid’s Must-See Museum

26 November, 2007 | In: Culture, Cibeles | Comments: 3

by Julie Espinosa

You may hear less mention of the Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza than of Madrid’s other two famous art museums, but that’s only because its name is tricky to pronounce. There’s no reason to overlook this corner of Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art.” The well-rounded collection, compiled by the art-loving Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and acquired by the Spanish government in 1993, spans eight centuries, from Gothic to modern painting.

Fitting into a three-hour-or-so visit, you can start on the second (top) floor and work your way down chronologically. I like to play “spot the donor” with the older paintings. Continue for some fine Renaissance portraits, including the famous Ghirlandaio portrait of Giovanna Tornabouni.

The collection boasts many Flemish and Dutch masterpieces. Keep your eyes peeled for some Spanish painters: Ribera, Zurburán, El Greco and Goya (just a handful of them compared to the Prado). There are also many fine examples the 19th century American painting, especially landscapes.

I’m biased toward the lettered wings on the first and second floors over the numbered rooms, for whatever reason. Perhaps it’s how the spaces are connected, allowing one to glimpse this beauty from several rooms afar.

The impressionist, post-impressionist, and expressionist rooms are utterly transporting: among them are works by Pisarro, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Hassam, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. On the ground floor, you can catch works by Picasso, Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí and Lichtenstein.

Despite not filling a clear niche, this is a must-see museum. Main collection tickets are 6 €/4€ for students and senior citizens, and 9€/5€ to see the general collection and temporary exhibit.

Metro: Banco de España. Paseo del Prado, 8. See map below: Read more »

What Shoes Should I Wear in Madrid?

23 November, 2007 | In: Travel tips | Comments: 6

by Amy Menchhofer

Shoes for Madrid!

Accessories are an important part of the Spanish wardrobe and shoes are at the top of the list. But the great question looms - comfort or style? Follow these tips and you’ll find the perfect mix to ensure that no one will think you’re a tourist.

1. Boots - Not just for the young and sexy; you’ll see boots on everyone from teenagers to abuelas. Knee-high boots are one of the most versatile footwear options to consider. They easily go from the office to a night out and instantly dress up your outfit. Love boots but don’t want to forfeit the comfort? Pull on a pair of flat boots over your jeans or pants and you’re ready for shopping with the girls or a casual date.

2. Flats - As elsewhere, the ballet flat rules the world of slip-on comfort and style. Look for unique fabrics like camouflage, polka dots, and plaid, or interesting details like bows, buttons, and straps to give a special something to the shoe. You’ll conveniently find these shoes for sale all over the place – in the street markets, cheap “Chinese” stores, and all the clothing shops – chain and otherwise.

3. Heels - Round toes or pointy, high heels or kitten, the key is in the details. Look for shoes that have sexy details like buckles, bows, a hot fabric, or a bright color. Summer dates call for heels as well but of the strappy sandal persuasion; just but don’t go too delicate or formal.

4. Sneakers - For an afternoon in the park or one spent sight-seeing, slip on a pair of “athletic” shoes. Just make sure they’re Euro-stylish and don’t look like they belong at the gym. Take your pick among brands like Diesel, Puma, Converse, or Camper to fit in.

5. Men’s Shoes - For the guys out there the same general idea applies – go for a “stylish” set of sneakers for your everyday duds. Pick a classic shoe that sports a modern shape and stitching to go easily from the office to the clubs. Avoid clunkiness at all costs.

With these suggestions you’ll get the perfectly-stocked shoe arsenal and you’ll be ready for everything Madrid can throw at you. At least from the ankle down.

Related reading: How to avoid looking like a tourist in Madrid