i am all positive for spain...i have some very good friends who are spanish and they are really nice.its a beautiful country and has a rich tradition..
as about someone being gay i think thats a personal chioce...
well, not that i support bullfighting but i guess the irish eat beef (n i have a feeling the cows and bulls are slaughtered before u eat them)...
hello, i'm from Chile and i hope i can help you a little bit.
I've been to madrid 3 times, the last one was last october. It's not my favourite city but i've had a great time because people is so nice, relaxed and .. how can i say it? authentic. It's a big city but you feel like you're in a little town.
I should say something about the museus there; 3 of them are great, but my favourite is the Reina Sofia museum (close to Museo del Prado).. it's all about contemporary art, specially from 1900-1930 (Miro, Dali, Picasso, etc). They usually have temporary exhbitions , which are very interesting. And it's not a big museum, it won't take you a whole day like el Prado.
About el Prado i couldn't say too much, because i don't like the style too much (XVII-XIX centuries, spanish painting) so i just went there to see the most important paitings.
Another great places to visit are the royal palace and its gardens, the old city (where all the spanish writers used to live), the Retiro Park where you can relax.. and there're some nice places to shop too (very crowded on saturdays) near Puerta del Sol and Plaza del Rey :P
I shouldn't be doing the next recommendation (since i'm a FC Barcelona fan) but if your son likes football, he'll really enjoy a Santiago Bernabeu tour.
But what you really must do is take a tour (or a train) to see Toledo and Segovia for a day trip. Both cities are amazing but Toledo is really something you shouldn't miss. The ancient city has being restaured and you can walk through narrow streets full of shops and places to eat.
I hope i helped
I don't like bullfighting either, but if someone really thinks spain is all about that and flamenco, then obviously doesn't know anything about that country and its people. Bullfighting is forbidden in some regions like Catalunya. They also speak different languages in several regions and have a wide diversity of food, culture, politics and traditions.
I know that for tourists seeing a bull being cut into pieces could sound "attractive" at some point, but I personally think its a waste of time. spanish tardition yeah, well, it's all about showing you're more powerful than the poor animal - whats so special about that?-
If you go to Madrid I reccomend a walk in the Retiro Park, a walk in the crowded city centre and maybe take some pictures of the Ventas bullring - your choice going in or not -.
The people in Madrid are really polite, nice and some of the most helpful people I ever met. My best friend is living there, and I make a visit, every now and then. It is really different from the north of Europe. If you are able to learn a little bit of Spanish that would be very helpfull, during your trip.
Marianes, gave you some great tips, It is really worthwhile to make a daytrip to Toledo. If you have enough time also go and see Segovia. You can take a train to Toledo from Atocha Station (just south/west of the Retiro Park). Taking a bus to Segovia will (suprisingly) by faster, as the train that goes to Segovia, makes a stop at every station ... and I counted a lot of stations, when I made that ride, the plusside for taking the train is that you will have some great views.
When you are in Madrid on a Sunday, you can visit the Museo Reina Sofia and the Museo del Prado for free, until 14.30 (closing time), and save yourself the entrance fee.
If you don't like bullfighting, don't go, a lot Spanish people hate it themselves, others love it.
yeah, irish do eat meat, but they don't slaughter cows, they just send them to oslaue who bores them to death.
then they eat them.
now seriously, being a chilean and living in Barcelona for almost 4 years has given me a bit of a different view of Spain. Do expect poor service in restaurants, but cool down... it's just the way spaniards are. In all, it'll be a very pleasant experience!
mariaines gave you very good tips; get yourself "lost" around the Plaza Mayor also. Just outside it there are splendid tapas bar, which have only one (yes, one) specialty, and it's one kind of tapa. You'll have the cod tapa, the champignon tapa, the olives tapa, one in each bar. You can also try wandering in the Huerta neighborhood (also called barrio de las letras, the letter's neighborhood), beautiful and interesting. I definitely agree on the Reina Sofia museum (Picasso's Guernica is there... just this painting is worth the visit), and you can check also the Thyssen Bornemisza museum...
enjoy your staying!! (oh, and you must try the fried squid sandwich, "bocadillo de calamares" and the "callos a la madrileña", both being Madrid's specialties!)