Archive for December 18th, 2010

December 18, 2010

My restaurants and bars of Madrid

This is a daunting task as there is so much good choice,and dont usually take photos of restaurants or food. However, as in Madrid will love to share my past culinary adventures with you all.

First,the cheapest and quickest way to eat in Madrid or Spain for that matter, is at the bars and cafés that serve tapas. You have to check that some bars more of the pubs style do not serve food. Family runs places like Ventas,Posadas,Mesones,and Fondas all old words for different types of inn serve inexpensive sit down food so look for their names.

Second, eating habits are way different than anywhere else I have notice in my travels outside , the breakfast is two (desayunos) ,the first is light meal of biscuits toasts,coffee with milk or cafe con leche, butter or jam ; then the second is more substantial between 10h to 11h,there you may have a bocadillo (sandwich) with sausage,ham or chorizo or cheese or a tortilla de patatas (potato omelette),fruit juice, coffee or beer. Then by around 13h some will start to have a drink at a bar then by 14h you sit down for the Almuerzo or lunch which is the main meal of the day. The  Merienda follows by 17h30 to 18h with some pastries ,sandwiches or cakes with coffee,tea,or juice as well as snacks like churros (fried batter sticks). By 19h bars are crowded with folks having tapas with sherry, beer or wine. The dinner or la Cena  begins by 21h ,and sometimes in summer service begins earlier for tourists. Spanish families tend to eat even later, I have had dinner as late as 23h30 start time.

Some bargains can be had by choosing the platos combinados or mix dish or the menu del dia, menu of the day. The platos are given in less expensive places  as the menu of the day is more formal. Some expensier places offered nowdays a menu de degustacion or tasting menu. The menu in Spanish is call the la Carta.  All places welcome children who are the king/queen there,and if ask will offered smaller portions for them. For paying you say La Cuenta por favor or the bill please. Tipping is not obligatory and the service charge is enough included in the bill, however, I always tip a small amount and if one of my regular places as much as 5% extra.

places of mine are:

La Bola, calle de la Bola 5, the best cocido madrileño in town, stew dish from Madrid. Resto goes back to 1870.

Casa Patas, Calle Canizares 10, tapas bar and flamenco, the best of both worlds.

Casa Ciriaco, Calle Mayor 84 tel +34 91 548 0620; near the Royal Palace and known for a great gallina en papitoria (chicken with eggs and saffron).

Botin, Calle de Cuchilleros 17, oldest restaurant in the world from 1725; traditional Castilian roast lamb and pig.

La Barraca, Calle de la Reina,29; Valencia style paella, first class one of my family favorites.

Casa Paco,plaza Puerta Cerrada,11. great cebon de buey thick juicy steak forever Lol!

La Taberna del Pescador, Calle Manuel Pombo Angulo,18, the fish is king here, seafood galore freshly done, the owner is a fisherman lol!  tel +34 917 504 794. metro palas de rey tramway about one hour from Puerta del Sol.

Casa Mingo, Paseo de la Florida,34 near Principe Pio. Asturian ciders and more open started from miners from Asturia, the real thing in Madrid. Many anecdotes here with the family and friends over the years. webpage is at

Las Cuevas de Luis Candela, calle Cuchilleros 1, Castilian and roask suckling pig at its very best in wood oven. A family tradition going back to my grandparents that I continue with my wife and boys.

Casa Alberto, calle de las Huertas, 18. Castilian good for years and years since 1827. Another favorite really !

L’Albufera at Melia Castilla hotel, not often hotel restos but this one was different. Capitan Haya 45, Cuzco. Valencian cuisine and rices galore !

resto at the Royal Theater or Teatro Real, mediterranean cuisine in an splendid setting for a romantic night. Plaza de Oriente ,5, site

Paradis Casa de America, Paseo de Recoletos,2. Excellent resto inside the Casa or house of the Americas that occupies the magnificent Palace of Linares.Near Cibeles fountain. Friends took me here in October 2010 and it was fantastic.

Cafe Gijon, Paseo de Recoletos, 21 ;One of the classic for literary discussions and a light meal over a drink talk with friends, one of my meeting places in Madrid. tel +34 915 215 425; Metro Colon line 4.

Cafe de la Opera, calle Arrieta 6, in front of Teatro Real or royal theater. Excellent and refine, opera style, they sing Lol!

Florida Park, inside the Retiro park, spectacles and fine dining with a show, the very best, and very nostalgic. Way back in my youth this was a community center where dances were held, now if you had a girl you could come here . I did ::)

Asador de Aranda, castilian at its best and still going strong, at Plaza de Castilla 3 and other locations in the city,and elsewhere in Spain.

Cafe de Oriente, one of the traditional and a nice area. Plaza de Oriente 2, near Opera and royal Palace.

Real Cafe Bernabeu in the magnificent best Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with full view of the field. Metro Santiago Bernabeu line 10, cant missed it.

Posada de la Villa ,from an old posada or inn of 1642. exquisite. Calle de la Cava Baja,9

Taberna del Capitan alastriste.Calle Grafal 7 near Cava Baja, La Latina, try Chuletadas al Capitan or chops of the captain, delicious.

Los Galayos, Calle Botonera 5, plaza Mayor, the Madrid of yesteryear ,doing it here since 1894.

Marisqueria Ribeira do Miño, Calle Santa Brigida ,1.Best seafood fresh and daunty, with a great ambiance always until very late.  Galicia in Madrid.

Cañas y Tapas, the best beer place with the locals in mind and modern. Several in town, the Vaguada, Diego de Leon, and Atocha locations are great ambiance. webpage here

VIPS, the best cafeterias in Madrid for a quick bite and soft landing on your money, several all over town. go to localizador in the bottom of link they also handle Starbucks and TGIFridays franchises in Spain.

Cafe Restaurante El Espejo, paseo de recoletos, 31/another institution on a well travel road, my first taste of Madrid with my new wife back in 1990 and one of our sure stops always after that date. You wont go wrong here while watching Madrid walk by you on Recoleto that continues north passing Plaza de Colon towards Castellana and then south to Cibeles fountain and plaza. webpage

Asador de la Esquina, another Real Madrid institution at the stadium by door 46 or puerta 46,ave Concha Espina 1. Exquisite Castilian with great cuts of meat.  tel +34 91 443 0675/47.

Pasteleria Mallorca, has the best pastries in Madrid for years…lately it has gone into restaurant too, the one at Calle Serrano 6 is a dandy not to miss. webpage here the store at Puerta del Sol sell its pastries yummy too.

La Giralda, calle Claudio Coello, 24, metro Retiro. Andalucia in Madrid. other locations in the city. Great pescaito frito or fry fish.

Mercado de San Miguel, plaza de San Miguel metro Sol, great for tapas and old ambiance of Madrid. This is a must it was renovated a couple of years back and its back to its old style as I knew it.  Events every week for tasting of different tapas and wines,

El Pescador, Jose Ortega y Gasset, 75 the great Madrid seafood place always good. Another Galician beauty in Madrid.

Pinocchio, Italian at excellent value and great ambiance at General Yagüe 8 metro santiago bernabeu line 10. other locations in the city as well, webpage is at

El Rodizio, when I want to go back to Brazil, this is it. great cuts of beef here,and with samba ambiance lol! Calle Medea 4, just cornering Calle Alcala out of city center a bit but easy on metro line 5 Suanzes, my neck of the woods for non tourist area too.

Taberna Antonio Sanchez, founded in 1830 by a torero of the same name who died in 1964. painter Ignacio Zuloaga had paintings here. Calle Meson de Paredes,13, metro line 1 Tirso de Molina. tel +34 91 539 78 26. no webpage but by now on many press clippings. do not missed the rabo de toro or bulls oxtails stew yummy.

El Tocororo, Cuba in Madrid, newer version, great ambiance modern premises, not bad for a Cuban in Madrid. Calle del Prado,3 metro Sevilla line 2. they have live music of course ::) and great tostones rellenos de camarones or stuff shrimp plantains.

La Vaca Argentina, you guess it Argentinian beef is very good, all cuts,for the beef eater in you, great steakhouses. My favorite is at AZCA shopping center in Castellana, see webpage here

TGIFriday’s, the American in Madrid, an old time favorite of mine, and conveniently located at the Esquina del Bernabeu Real Madrid complex first floor. ave Concha Espina,3. webpage go to localizador at the bottom for address and contact info VIPS is the franchise for Spain.

Centro Cubano de España,(closed) is a restaurant near the USA embassy at Calle Claudio Coello ,41, metro Serrano . it is the oldest Cuban restaurant in Europe !!! open in 1967. Many times there as a youth to eat,and many times for free to help political refugees from Cuba. webpage is not the greatest just the contact infor, but it has live music and great authentic food of Cuba.

Cerveceria Los Timbales, Calle Alcala 227.metro Ventas Line 5. a bullfigher delight next to the Monumental, and a hangout of old. very richly decorated and great ambiance in the evenings. no web tel +34 91 725 0768.

Chocolateria San Gines, Pasadizo de San Gines,5, near Puerta del Sol, a must as it is nostalgic for me, my mom used to take me there when as a kid love those churros dip in hot chocolates ,yummy. Metro sol line 1,2,3,cercanias. Tel +34 91 365 6546.

Museo del Jamon, Gran Via 72; metro Plaza de España line 2,3,and 10.Other good locations at Atocha and Alcala,

Many many others of just passing and stopping, Madrid has more per sq km than any other city in Europe. buen provecho, vale. ok enjoy it. Cheers!!!


December 18, 2010

Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park

It is the essence and lungs of Madrid, the best known park, a rich history and memories of youth. I lived not far from it, and use to walk its alleys and greens all over as a youth, then as an adult came to it on every trip to Madrid as if doing a pilgrimage to a sacred place. It is for me always will be Retiro, my park.

The park is 118 hectares or 291,4 acres. It takes its name from Felipe IV royal palace that once stood there. The only remains are the Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) and the Museo del Ejercito (where the sword of El Cid is now at the Army museum, Calle de Mendez Nuñez). The royal family used it from 1632, in the 18 century it was partially opened to the public as long as they came properly dress ,until finally fully open to the public in 1869.

You have the estanque or lake where boats can be rented, at paseo salon del Estanque. A favorite of mine even today, used to take my girlfriend there and oars the boat just to show off ! Then took my girlfriend now wife, did the same just to show off. Then took my boys and wrote them around with the stories just to be sure they do the same ,hopefully !  Beyond the park main view you see the half moon colonnade with the equestrian figure of king Alfonso XII; all of 30 meters high(99 ft)  by 86 meters long(284 ft)  and 58 meters wide (191 ft). To the south of the lake you have two attractive palaces; the neoclassical Palacio de Velazquez(red brick and tiles now an exposition center by paseo de Venezuela )  and the Palacio de Cristal (crystal palace as in London by paseo de la Republica de Cuba). You can come towards the Prado museum and the botanical gardens entry by plaza de Murillo.

The main entrance is by the Puerta de Alcala, the gateway used by king Carlos III (emperor Carlos V) to entered Madrid that in the 19C marked the easternmost entry to the city. Occupying the plaza de la Independencia or Independance plaza. Coming into it the Calle Serrano and Calle Alfonso XII all alongside the Parque Retiro on Calle Alcala. By the corner here across the street from the park at Alcala 83 you will find the church of San Manuel y San Benito, my church in Madrid.

You have large promenades of robust trees leading to fountains and statues, amongst its the La Chopera ( old equestrian center of king Fernando VII today sports installations abound ) ,fountains of Galapagos (b. 1832 commemorating the birth of queen Isabel II at the plaza de Nicaragua) , Alcachofa (by puerta de Atocha at plaza de  la Republica de Honduras  and built in 1781), and Angel Caido or fallen angel (built in 1885 by plaza del angel caido,and only monument dedicated to the devil in the world). When you past by the paseo de la Argentina also known as paseo de las estatuas or alley of statues you will see many such as Enrique II of Castilla or Henry II of Castile etc. From the street Alfonso XII you entered by the Puerta de España or Door of Spain which leads you to paseo de la Argentina and the lake.

by the statue to the marqués de Salamanca or marquis of Salamanca you find the La Rosaleda (built in 1914 by Cecilio Rodriguez gardener) ,its an imitation of the one in the bois de boulogne of Paris for which the Spanish gardener took it queus. Other monuments nearby are the Academy of the Spanish Language (calle de Ruiz Alarcon), monument of queen Maria Cristina (facing cason del buen retiro at ave Felipe IV); Palace of Bruno Zaldo (calle Alfonso XII,26); Puerta de Mariana de Neuburgo (door entrance on calle Alfonso XII to Retiro); in the parterre of the park you will see the oldest tree dating from 1633 original from Mexico call Ahuehuete. Also, in the parterre the monument to Jacinto Benaverte, 1922 winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, there in the parterre there is the lake of Campanillas call for the tower of bells that was there now gone but still the name remains ; Plaza del maestro villa there is the quiosco de Musica or music kiosk ornate dome; Paseo del Estanque is the casa de la vaca or cow house that used to be a milk store, extreme northwest of the park you have the casita del Pescador  or Fisherman house near the artificial mountain, one of the original royal properties still standing there; next to avenue Menendez Pelayo you will find the Casita de Fieras or wild animals house , a small zoo for the entretain of king Fernando VII; jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez or gardens of Cecilio Rodriguez ,the gardener of the city build in 1972 with many ornaments and statues. In the southwest of the park you will find the Observatorio Central  Meteorologico or meteo observatory by paseo del duque de Fernan Nuñez; Iglesia de San Jeronimo el Real a church by calle de Ruiz De Alarcon, 19 (this is where the princes of Asturias swear allegiance to the crown from Felipe II in 1528 to the last one to do it here Isabel II in 1833); Monumento to the Republic of Cuba (at plaza del Salvador, to honor similar monument in Havana,Cuba to Spain, there in Retiro you will see Catholic queen Isabel I and Cristobal Colon(Columbus) built in 1952); Monument to General Martinez Campos at Plaza de Guatemala( built in 1927 to honor the gen that ended the 1er Republic in Spain and also head of Spanish troops in Cuba during the 1860’s); El embarcadero or embarkment for boats built in 1902 where you rent today boats for the lake.

Continue, the Glorieta de los Titeres or guignol theater. next to O’Donnel street you will have the Montaña de los gatos or cats mountain and also known as rollercoster mountain ,it is artificially done by 1816 . Huerto del Francés or French potager used today to recreate plants and flowers at the south part of the park, next to paseo del Uruguay you have the oriental gardens or Jardines Orientales; Pantéon de Hombres Ilustres a sort of Pantheon of Spain as in Paris built in 1867 today lies here Garcilazo de la Vega, Calderon de la Barca, amongst other, located at Julian Gayarre, 3 (some of the bigger names were determine not opt for transfer to the pantheon); and Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Our lady of Atocha ,this church given status of basilica by Pope Pius IX in 1863 is founded in an old monastery dating from 1524.located at avenida de Ciudad de Barcelona,3.

The beautiful plazas that surround this park makes an international treasure fort, from the Cibeles fountain at plaza de las Cibeles to plaza de la Independencia at Puerta de Alcala to plaza Canovas del Castillo and Lealtad (by Prado museum) to Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V, passing by the Atocha train station and up Menendez Pelayo to O’Donnell and back to calle Alcala you have the Madrid of the Bourbons, and rich history of Spain all within walking distance. A must for every visitor to Madrid.

Hope you enjoy it as much I do forever Madrid!! Cheers!

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December 18, 2010

Getting in and around Madrid

One of my nostalgic cities, one that I lived for four years and need to visit very often, last october was there. One of the highlights of my time there and visits thereafter was to get around the city on the metro, plus walking. I cannot emphasize the idea of walking in Madrid , very compact sightseeing and beautiful avenues too. In order to help the traveler I will give some information on transportation in the city.

First, many speaks about the Visa require to visit from countries that needs one. I wont go into that as it is more for a government entity to answer ,each individual situation might be different. I would assume you can come to Madrid, and once there can use my information.

The arrival is normally done by Barajas Airport, needless to say ,this is not Madrid but a suburb towards the north. It is about 13 kms  northeast of city center. The airport is divided into two areas one is for Terminals 1,2,and 3 and then another area for Terminal 4 ,and 4S. T1,2,3 are in a row so one can reach them walking internally. Then to go to T4 you need to take a navette bus or metro for about 15 to 20 minutes. To go from T4 to T4S there is a subterranean minitrain and it takes again 15-20 minutes.  The arrivals are done on the ground floor (1 fl),and departures , check in, boarding on the first floor (2 fl). The general contact telephone number for the airport is +34 902 35 35 70.  The main airport site in Spain AENA for Barajas information in English here

There are tourist office in the airport at T1 and T4 open every day from 8h to 20h. The airport has consignment of luggage open 24/24h for less than 4€ per hour. They are between the passageways of terminals T2 and the metro entrance and on the arrivals level of T4.

How to get to city center from Barajas; by metro from Terminal 2 , direct to Madrid on line 8 to Nuevos Ministerios metro stop. Open from 6h to 01h30 (am). Takes about 20 minutes to Nuevos Ministerios and about 35-40 minutes to Puerta del Sol ,the center of Madrid. The cost is 2€. You can buy the metrobus ticket of 10 trips or the Abono Turistico or tourist ticket for about 11€ for 3 days on zone A city proper Madrid. The metro webpage in English is this one

There is the old way of coming in on buses 200 from the international arrivals every 10 minutes frequency from 5h35 to 23h30, the trips takes about 20 minutes on normal days. Cost is 1€.  This takes you to the intercambiador(Interchange correspondance station) Avenida de America . From here you connect on the metro/subway on lines 7,9,4, and circular line 6 to various points in the city. The same can be done on bus 204 from T4 at ground level to intercambiador Avenida de America. The taxi is another option figure on about 20-25€ to city center but could be a bit higher depending on the luggage and number of persons. Not more than 4 per car,and sometimes 3 if too much luggage.

For all buses, metro/subway/tube, in the city and suburbs, you can check in English the official transport site for the community(province or state of)  of Madrid at ,you also have a street map guide and disturbances or trouble lines information on the right column on the above site.

The new bus system taken from the old line 89 now call the Airport Express or Expres Aeropuerto under line 203. 2€ fares takes you from the airports to city center at various locations such as T4,T2,T1, O’Donnell (just behind parque Retiro connects with circular line metro 6), Cibeles fountain stop( connect with metro line 2), and Atocha train station (connect with metro line 1). The map and info is on city of Madrid bus transport site EMT here

There is a shuttle like service call Aerocity that can pickup and take you from airport to your hotel, train station,etc. They are 24h and guarantee to take you with a maximum of 3 stops along the way, the fare is from 23 € and depending on the number of passengers, nighttime is from 26€ per person. The site with all information in English is here

Then there is the train …The main stations are Atocha RENFE and Chamartin. The main train site in Spain is RENFE here is the site in English, however, sometimes if you try the spanish site you can find more information. Atocha is at Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V,and underground has connection to metro lines. Inside its nicely decorated with garden style plants looking like a forest. counters are open from Monday to Saturdays and from 8h to 20h, Sundays and Holidays from 9h to 14h. Consignement or locker rooms are available from 6h30 to 22h30 for 2,40 to 4,50€ according to the size of the luggage.  right next to the tropical forest garden, map and details of Atocha at this site

At Atocha you come from AVE Barcelona (Zaragoza) ,Seville (Cordoba) ,Huesca (Zaragoza), and Malaga(Cordoba). It also connects to many destinations just outside Madrid like Alcala de Henares. The other main train station is Chamartin at calle Agustin de Foxa and Avenida de Pio XII., and open for counters from 6h35  to 22h55, it has consignment or lockers from 7h to 23h with prices as Atocha. It has metro connections on line 1 and 10. You can go to nearby towns from here too, such as Barajas T4 airport, and the arrival of trenhotel from France . The interactive map for Chamartin is here

There is a smaller station at Principe Pio to the west of the city on the Carretera de Castilla that service all the nearby suburbs of Madrid. Good luck as it is known to many of those who know me I am not a fan of trains.

Next comes the bus system with the main station at Intercambiador del Sur at Calle Mendez Alvaro, near Atocha train station. You have lockers for luggage storage in the basement or lower level. You have bus companies there such as Avanza ie Avila, Alsa, more national, Enatcar ie Barcelona, AutoRes ie Cuenca, Aisagrupo ie Aranjuez ,etc. The main site is here in Spanish

Then you have the Intercambiador Avenida de America, at Avenida de America with metro stop for lines 9,7,4, and circular line 6. You have Alsa, continental, etc here and service to Torrejon de Ardoz,Bilbao, Barcelona (Nord station) etc.  Then Intercambiador de Moncloa at metro stop Moncloa line 3,and circular line 6, service to San Lorenzo del Escorial on company Herranz as well as Alsa to Leon, Valladolid, etc. Intercambiado Principe Pio, at metro Principe Pio, connect metro lines 10 ,circular line 6, and special line R to Opera. here is La Sepulvedana bus line to Segovia. Intercambiador de Plaza Eliptica, metro connection Plaza Eliptica on lines 11, and circular line 6. with Alsa company connection to Toledo. This site from Madrid bus system tell you more of the intercambiadores or Interchange stations here

There is a general site for bus reservations in Spain at and you can type in the name of the bus companies for their sites above to find in the internet. There is ,also, a tourist bus at  Also, from the airport by metro line 8 to Nuevos Ministerios, there is the alternative choice of taken the Cercanias or suburbian train to Atocha or Chamartin instead of the metro;the counters are in lower level when you leave the metro system at Nuevos Ministerios. In addition to the international bus system of Eurolines that does have service into Madrid and other cities, see it at

Then there is my favorite the rental car, you can access many such as from abroad or or the locals or plus the usual names you should know. Driving in Madrid is not as bad as publish elsewere, if you can drive per se in New York city area or Miami or Paris or any other major city you will do good in Madrid too. The best is to use a parking garage and use the foot or local public transport, then get out again from the city to see the suburbs and elsewhere. The Parking is best done by ORA system for info and their parking garages at

you can ,also, find parking garages with inter Spain at or my favorites because I use parking plaza de Castilla and also in France is Vinci at

If you want to know the road conditions in Spain , take a look at the DGT transport direction ministry site with all info in spanish here

The information is impossible to be inclusive of everything but I am hoping it helps your travel to Madrid. IF you have any questions or specifics feel free to contact me here. Happy travels everyone ::)



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