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Trip to Madrid feedback

Trip to Madrid feedback

Old Nov 13th 2011, 10:59 am
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Default Trip to Madrid feedback

I almost decided not to post this, but changed my mind as it may be of use to anyone thinking of visiting Madrid. Arguing a point is fine, but personal abuse from internet warriors can get tiring. I’ve noticed I’ve descended down to their level too on occasions, so I may well take a break for a while – leave the trolls to it. I believe it’s called “flouncing off”
Anyway, I flew in with Iberia to Terminal 4 – the plane was full, which surprised me for a Saturday in November. The reason why soon became apparent, as many were flying onto South America. The terminal itself is a bit confusing, especially when flying out. After checking in on my return journey, the directions steer you away from shops and towards the gates – I had to take the shuttle train to what is called Terminal 4-S. But, I should have realised commercial forces would not have deprived me of the chance to buy duty-free and grab some food prior to the flight – there are retail outlets in Terminal 4S. Personally I think Terminal 4 is a bit over the top. I know that Richard Rogers the British architect helped to design it, and that it’s won awards, but I found it too big and just a little easy to get lost in. Regular travellers there probably find it easy to navigate, but the first-time visitor may find it a little overwhelming. I got a taxi into the city on arrival (it cost just under 30 Euros), but caught the airport bus on returning (from Avenida de America – I believe it also goes to Atocha). There is also the metro option, but I didn’t want to spend time on an underground train.
Back to the city itself – I stayed at a hostal called Gallardo on calle Fuencarral, close to metros Tribunal and Bilbao. I booked over the internet, and was a little apprehensive about this, but when I arrived they had my details so no problem. The room was extremely clean and had the normal facilities eg en-suite bathroom, security safe, clean towels and soaps, shower gel etc. The price I paid of 37 Euros (this was an average over several nights as per internet booking) was very good value I thought for a capital city – I know I’d pay nearly double that for an equivalent place in London (you don’t want to see the cheap places in London!). The big disadvantage about the hostal’s location was it looked out over the street, and in summer this street can be noisy, I remember from previous years a botellon often forms at metro Tribunal. You can close the window at night in winter, but probably not so easy in summer – although I noticed there was an air conditioning unit in the room. There are a host of places I could have chosen (see madridman.com for a comprehensive list), but I chose this place for its location. It’s away from the central Sol/Gran Via zone, which I find too busy, overrun by tourists, and with prices to match. Even so there are plenty of shops, bars, restaurants in the vicinity. The best street for tapas bars, restaurants (in my opinion) is calle Cardenal Cisneros which is to the north of the Bilbao junction (check out La Esquina de Benja as a great place for a cana and tapa), but there are good places closer to the hostal. La Camocha always gives big free tapas (try the sister place just a little further up on calle Bravo Murillo, the staff there seem to be more on the ball), and a good place to drink, or merely have coffee and breakfast is La Divina just off Fuencarral. There are more expensive restaurants in the area, but an internet guide will be needed here – I don’t have the experience of the top end places.
Some things that surprised me on this visit. Firstly I saw quite a lot of betting shops that have opened. I’ve been informed (by JLFS on this talkboard) that the law has changed, so that’s why. The generosity of the free tapas in bars still surprises me – but remember I’m talking about an area away from central Sol. There are always bars and shops that close down eg the owners are retiring, or moving away. However my impression was there were more than usual that had closed, probably down to the recession. It’s also my impression that those that have stayed open are trying harder to keep their customers, hence the generous tapas. There were definite signs that things have been hard for some – the queue for food I saw just behind Quevedo for instance. Yet at the same time I was surprised to see my old expat friends all doing their best to survive and (in some cases) prosper. I met friends in the Triskel tavern on 3 separate nights, and on each occasion the place was busy – in fact we were joking “crisis? What crisis?” The owners of the pub (a Brit-Spanish couple) have done their marketing well, and now organise quiz nights, business start-up meetings etc etc. As for the average Spanish bar I always try and gauge their viability by seeing how many people pop in the morning for coffee. The places I went in of a morning seemed to be quite busy and there were no shortage of folk ordering bocatas, toast or churros to go with their coffee. Of course this area (especially towards Quevedo) is a fairly well-to-do-area compared with some barrios, so you can’t judge the whole city based on that. As to prices – most places had coffee at 1.20 or 1.30, similarly 1.30 for a small cana or house wine (a better quality wine like Rioja or Ribero de Duero was 2 or 2.20 Euros). As mentioned earlier you generally got a free tapa. There were exceptions to this – I thought I’d been stung when I was charged 1.50 for a coffee (in Gambrinus), and one of the Museo de Jamon clones was offering everything at 1 euro each (tapa or beer or glass of wine or bocadillo – all 1 Euro each). Menus del dia seemed to be generally priced at 8 or 8.50 euros. Still good value as they plonk the wine bottle on the table with the meal. There also seem to be a lot more places offering a menu as a takeaway item – for say 4.50 Euros – whether that is as a result of the recession, or a change in eating habits, I’m not sure. I have to admit I only ate a menu once – in fact it was a menu especial at 15 Euros on Sunday as I was eating with friends and we wanted a good wine (Rioja) with the meal, which on this occasion was fantastic. We chose well (my first time in this place, on c Bravo Murillo, but unfortunately I can’t remember its name ) and indeed had to queue prior to getting a table, it was packed.
One thing I intended to do (it’s my normal habit when in Madrid) was to take in a film at http://www.cines-verdi.com/madrid/cartelera.php - there are plenty of Original Version cinemas in the city, but I like this one, as the surrounding streets are not overcrowded when you come out, and I once lived in the area. However I ended up spending more time catching up with old friends than I anticipated, so this time I had to give it a miss. Again it’s in walking distance from Fuencarral (just). They’ve developed part of that Bravo Murrillo road to attract families, and often on a Sunday traffic is banned from there. Plenty of shops (and not a few roadside stalls) make this a nice and relaxed place to shop. Not the cheapest place to shop in Madrid though – you’ll find places like Vips, Starbucks, Zara and Bennetton here, so don’t expect bargain city.
Anything I didn’t like on my stay? Apart from the fact I had to leave? Well to be honest I was on holiday this time. The normal hassles of everyday life didn’t apply eg getting forms filled out at the tobacconist, or dodging people on your way to work. I’d still advise a visitor to Madrid to be paranoid about pickpockets and street criminals – I didn’t come across any this time, but my accommodation was well away from the central Sol area. I’m sure they’re still around, looking for easy targets. Indeed someone I know almost had his stuff taken last week, and he needed a passer-by to prevent the robbery taking place. As for the climate, I didn’t find the cooler temperatures – 10 or 12C daytime – a problem, in fact an ideal temperature for walking around. However if you’re headed there from the coast you may well feel cold. Of course if you go in summer it’ll be hot enough for anyone, perhaps too hot. It's not the perfect city - but for me it comes closer than anywhere else I've been in Europe (I admit I don't have experience outside Europe). Others I'm sure will disagree, but for great nightlife, good tapas and bars, value for money and a good buzz, Madrid never fails to disappoint.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:29 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by steviedeluxe View Post
I almost decided not to post this, but changed my mind as it may be of use to anyone thinking of visiting Madrid. Arguing a point is fine, but personal abuse from internet warriors can get tiring. I’ve noticed I’ve descended down to their level too on occasions, so I may well take a break for a while – leave the trolls to it. I believe it’s called “flouncing off”
Anyway, I flew in with Iberia to Terminal 4 – the plane was full, which surprised me for a Saturday in November. The reason why soon became apparent, as many were flying onto South America. The terminal itself is a bit confusing, especially when flying out. After checking in on my return journey, the directions steer you away from shops and towards the gates – I had to take the shuttle train to what is called Terminal 4-S. But, I should have realised commercial forces would not have deprived me of the chance to buy duty-free and grab some food prior to the flight – there are retail outlets in Terminal 4S. Personally I think Terminal 4 is a bit over the top. I know that Richard Rogers the British architect helped to design it, and that it’s won awards, but I found it too big and just a little easy to get lost in. Regular travellers there probably find it easy to navigate, but the first-time visitor may find it a little overwhelming. I got a taxi into the city on arrival (it cost just under 30 Euros), but caught the airport bus on returning (from Avenida de America – I believe it also goes to Atocha). There is also the metro option, but I didn’t want to spend time on an underground train.
Back to the city itself – I stayed at a hostal called Gallardo on calle Fuencarral, close to metros Tribunal and Bilbao. I booked over the internet, and was a little apprehensive about this, but when I arrived they had my details so no problem. The room was extremely clean and had the normal facilities eg en-suite bathroom, security safe, clean towels and soaps, shower gel etc. The price I paid of 37 Euros (this was an average over several nights as per internet booking) was very good value I thought for a capital city – I know I’d pay nearly double that for an equivalent place in London (you don’t want to see the cheap places in London!). The big disadvantage about the hostal’s location was it looked out over the street, and in summer this street can be noisy, I remember from previous years a botellon often forms at metro Tribunal. You can close the window at night in winter, but probably not so easy in summer – although I noticed there was an air conditioning unit in the room. There are a host of places I could have chosen (see madridman.com for a comprehensive list), but I chose this place for its location. It’s away from the central Sol/Gran Via zone, which I find too busy, overrun by tourists, and with prices to match. Even so there are plenty of shops, bars, restaurants in the vicinity. The best street for tapas bars, restaurants (in my opinion) is calle Cardenal Cisneros which is to the north of the Bilbao junction (check out La Esquina de Benja as a great place for a cana and tapa), but there are good places closer to the hostal. La Camocha always gives big free tapas (try the sister place just a little further up on calle Bravo Murillo, the staff there seem to be more on the ball), and a good place to drink, or merely have coffee and breakfast is La Divina just off Fuencarral. There are more expensive restaurants in the area, but an internet guide will be needed here – I don’t have the experience of the top end places.
Some things that surprised me on this visit. Firstly I saw quite a lot of betting shops that have opened. I’ve been informed (by JLFS on this talkboard) that the law has changed, so that’s why. The generosity of the free tapas in bars still surprises me – but remember I’m talking about an area away from central Sol. There are always bars and shops that close down eg the owners are retiring, or moving away. However my impression was there were more than usual that had closed, probably down to the recession. It’s also my impression that those that have stayed open are trying harder to keep their customers, hence the generous tapas. There were definite signs that things have been hard for some – the queue for food I saw just behind Quevedo for instance. Yet at the same time I was surprised to see my old expat friends all doing their best to survive and (in some cases) prosper. I met friends in the Triskel tavern on 3 separate nights, and on each occasion the place was busy – in fact we were joking “crisis? What crisis?” The owners of the pub (a Brit-Spanish couple) have done their marketing well, and now organise quiz nights, business start-up meetings etc etc. As for the average Spanish bar I always try and gauge their viability by seeing how many people pop in the morning for coffee. The places I went in of a morning seemed to be quite busy and there were no shortage of folk ordering bocatas, toast or churros to go with their coffee. Of course this area (especially towards Quevedo) is a fairly well-to-do-area compared with some barrios, so you can’t judge the whole city based on that. As to prices – most places had coffee at 1.20 or 1.30, similarly 1.30 for a small cana or house wine (a better quality wine like Rioja or Ribero de Duero was 2 or 2.20 Euros). As mentioned earlier you generally got a free tapa. There were exceptions to this – I thought I’d been stung when I was charged 1.50 for a coffee (in Gambrinus), and one of the Museo de Jamon clones was offering everything at 1 euro each (tapa or beer or glass of wine or bocadillo – all 1 Euro each). Menus del dia seemed to be generally priced at 8 or 8.50 euros. Still good value as they plonk the wine bottle on the table with the meal. There also seem to be a lot more places offering a menu as a takeaway item – for say 4.50 Euros – whether that is as a result of the recession, or a change in eating habits, I’m not sure. I have to admit I only ate a menu once – in fact it was a menu especial at 15 Euros on Sunday as I was eating with friends and we wanted a good wine (Rioja) with the meal, which on this occasion was fantastic. We chose well (my first time in this place, on c Bravo Murillo, but unfortunately I can’t remember its name ) and indeed had to queue prior to getting a table, it was packed.
One thing I intended to do (it’s my normal habit when in Madrid) was to take in a film at http://www.cines-verdi.com/madrid/cartelera.php - there are plenty of Original Version cinemas in the city, but I like this one, as the surrounding streets are not overcrowded when you come out, and I once lived in the area. However I ended up spending more time catching up with old friends than I anticipated, so this time I had to give it a miss. Again it’s in walking distance from Fuencarral (just). They’ve developed part of that Bravo Murrillo road to attract families, and often on a Sunday traffic is banned from there. Plenty of shops (and not a few roadside stalls) make this a nice and relaxed place to shop. Not the cheapest place to shop in Madrid though – you’ll find places like Vips, Starbucks, Zara and Bennetton here, so don’t expect bargain city.
Anything I didn’t like on my stay? Apart from the fact I had to leave? Well to be honest I was on holiday this time. The normal hassles of everyday life didn’t apply eg getting forms filled out at the tobacconist, or dodging people on your way to work. I’d still advise a visitor to Madrid to be paranoid about pickpockets and street criminals – I didn’t come across any this time, but my accommodation was well away from the central Sol area. I’m sure they’re still around, looking for easy targets. Indeed someone I know almost had his stuff taken last week, and he needed a passer-by to prevent the robbery taking place. As for the climate, I didn’t find the cooler temperatures – 10 or 12C daytime – a problem, in fact an ideal temperature for walking around. However if you’re headed there from the coast you may well feel cold. Of course if you go in summer it’ll be hot enough for anyone, perhaps too hot. It's not the perfect city - but for me it comes closer than anywhere else I've been in Europe (I admit I don't have experience outside Europe). Others I'm sure will disagree, but for great nightlife, good tapas and bars, value for money and a good buzz, Madrid never fails to disappoint.
Maybe you need to flounce off for a bit, you should have a rest from flogging a dead horse.

You are making yourself a bore......

On the positive note I found your report interesting, but reading between the lines I noticed you seem to have gone alone to Madrid, you never said "we", and that dispite having lived and worked there for good lenght of time, you didnt have a mate invite you to stay at their place for a few nights.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:36 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by JLFS View Post
Maybe you need to flounce off for a bit, you should have a rest from flogging a dead horse.

You are making yourself a bore......


On the positive note I found your report interesting, but reading between the lines I noticed you seem to have gone alone to Madrid, you never said "we", and that dispite having lived and worked there for good lenght of time, you didnt have a mate invite you to stay at their place for a few nights.
Oh dear, can't help launching into personal attack mode from the start...

As for your question, I did get an invite (in fact this friend always invites me to stay at his place) but I never know when to trust him as regards turning up on time ie i'd run the risk of losing the first day waiting for him to turn up. On a short stay, all time is valuable, plus I know he's feel bound to keep me company everyday when he had business elsewhere. Still he made sure he paid for my menu especial. No complaints here ! In fact I'm one of those who always finds it difficult to stay at someone else's home, even family.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by JLFS View Post
Maybe you need to flounce off for a bit, you should have a rest from flogging a dead horse.

You are making yourself a bore......

On the positive note I found your report interesting, but reading between the lines I noticed you seem to have gone alone to Madrid, you never said "we", and that dispite having lived and worked there for good lenght of time, you didnt have a mate invite you to stay at their place for a few nights.
Who is the bore?

Graham
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:42 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by steviedeluxe View Post
Oh dear, can't help launching into personal attack mode from the start...

As for your question, I did get an invite (in fact this friend always invites me to stay at his place) but I never know when to trust him as regards turning up on time ie i'd run the risk of losing the first day waiting for him to turn up. On a short stay, all time is valuable, plus I know he's feel bound to keep me company everyday when he had business elsewhere. Still he made sure he paid for my menu especial. No complaints here ! In fact I'm one of those who always finds it difficult to stay at someone else's home, even family.
Hang on minute isnt that what you did, re-read your opening post 1st paragraph. Are trying to say that you didnt mean to get any reaction.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:43 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by The Oddities View Post
Who is the bore?

Graham
NEXT.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:50 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by JLFS View Post
Hang on minute isnt that what you did, re-read your opening post 1st paragraph. Are trying to say that you didnt mean to get any reaction.
There is a serious point here. If everyone who wants to relate an experience or help give advice on a query, meets the personal abuse that is all too frequent on this board, newbies (and not a few regulars) will move elsewhere. If you or other posters want to continue on this path, then fine, I can't do anything to stop you. But it gets tiring after a while, and yes I'm probably going elsewhere. I'm not claiming to be innocent in this matter either, but the constant abuse here is starting to get very tedious. It's be nice if other people with experience of Madrid can contribute here, and either corrobate or dispute my experiences, but I fear (hope I'm wrong) we'll just end up in another slanging match.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 11:56 am
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Originally Posted by steviedeluxe View Post
There is a serious point here. If everyone who wants to relate an experience or help give advice on a query, meets the personal abuse that is all too frequent on this board, newbies (and not a few regulars) will move elsewhere. If you or other posters want to continue on this path, then fine, I can't do anything to stop you. But it gets tiring after a while, and yes I'm probably going elsewhere. I'm not claiming to be innocent in this matter either, but the constant abuse here is starting to get very tedious. It's be nice if other people with experience of Madrid can contribute here, and either corrobate or dispute my experiences, but I fear (hope I'm wrong) we'll just end up in another slanging match.
Have you ever thought that your opening paragraph was maybe not the right thing to do, you knew that you would get a reaction, admit it?

Why didnt you just relate your weekend away, without the smary intro?

Then, I for one would have read it the way it was meant, and it was well written and good, but because you had to get your little dig in, I decided to send it back at you,it may not be the way everyone would react,but it is the way I do.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:01 pm
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

Stevie

Thank you so much for putting on such an informative post. I am sure that there are a great many members who will appreciate the time and effort that you have put into it. It is amazing to hear that there are reasonable but good places to stay in such a big city. People tend to look at the prices in their own area and think that this is the norm throughout Spain so any information about another area is more than welcome on the site.

I am always being told by new members that they value informative and friendly posts such as yours so I do hope that you will stay on here and continue with your input.

Thanks again.

Rosemary
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:08 pm
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

I still think the post would have been greatly improved if Stevie had started with:

Anyway, I flew in with Iberia to Terminal 4 – the plane was full, which surprised me for a Saturday in November. The reason why soon became apparent, as many were flying onto South America. The terminal itself is a bit confusing, especially when flying out. After checking in on my return journey, the directions steer you away from shops and towards the gates .......and so on
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:20 pm
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Stevie, Menu del dia for 8.00 euros incl wine. What were these places like and what type of meal were they offering. It seems incredibly cheap to me for a capital city[/I]
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:30 pm
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Well done on an excellent thread, I really enjoyed reading it ! please ignore any negative posts we need more posts like this

regards
al
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:34 pm
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Good post Stevie,
I am surprised Madrid airport has won awards. I too found it difficult to navigate. I seemed to be directed in one direction round a corner and shunted back again.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:44 pm
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I wish you had a few more paragraphs in there.I do want to read it but its difficult keeping to the correct lines.

By the way I enjoy your posts.
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Old Nov 13th 2011, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Trip to Madrid feedback

You bloody miserable lot.

I reckon the lad deserves some karma for going to so much trouble to give us all such a finely detailed account of his fascinating Busmans Holiday.

May I suggest that next time you could also include a list of any decent, or dare I say indecent Whorehouses, that you could recommend to would be travellers visiting your favourite neck of the woods Stevie ?
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