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spain in january

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1. Posted by j89 (Budding Member 3 posts) 9y

i am flying to madrid on the 8th of january and returning on the 23rd, the purpose of the trip is mainly preparation for when i go to south america in march. i was wondering, any ideas what i could do in these two weeks, in spain, and are there many tourists/backpackers around this time of year?

2. Posted by jaxstar84 (Respected Member 415 posts) 9y

madrid is a pretty cool city... i spent 4 days there last year n had a good time! the shopping is good and shops like Zara are cheaper there!! i just got a map and walked around the city, i dont think i took the metro once, unless i was coming from or going to the airport...

have some churros for breakfast! pretty nice but its not something i can eat every day for breakfast!! its deep fried dough dipped in chocolate sauce.

go to some tapas bars, have some sangria :D its a no brainer really, but i went for tapas every nite and loved it! i also bought my lunch and breakfast from this big food market across from a church... i think i mention it in my blog, so if you check it out i might have said where it is..... but itll def be good practice for ur spanish, as no one there spoke any english or german or dutch when i was there!

3. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1384 posts) 9y

I posted this on another website last week, but I'll share it with you as well:

As they say on the cookery shows: "Here's something we prepared earlier." These are things I liked and like in Madrid:

Upon arrival in Madrid, get yourself a 10 viajas ticket (6,40) for the Metro, you will find machines at every station, and a lot also have a box office. Also grab a map of the metro! If you arrive at the airport you need to pay a fee for the transfer to the city, this you can do by buying a seperate ticket (1 euro) or to add 1 transfer to you 10 viajas ticket. These tickets are tiny. (keep them in your wallet.) If you would arrive by train, you would be at Chamartin or Atocha Station. From either station you can get to the city very easy.

If you want to see the museums, I would suggest the Prado for a good collection of art through the centuries, and the Reina Sofia for Modern Art (starting somewhere early 20th century). The Prado and the Reina Sofia (near to Atocha Station.) have no entrance fee on sundays (until the close at 14.30). There is also the private owned Thyssen museum (opposite the Prado). It has also a more general collection.

There are a couple of things in Madrid (like in every other city) that you must have seen: The Plaza Major, The Palace and the new Cathedral, the Plaza de Cibeles. At this moment they are (still) doing a lot of work at Atocha Station and on Sol. So at this moment these places are not the prettiest. Also Retiro Park is a good place to relax. In the weekend you can see a lot of performances by musicians etc. There is also the even bigger Campo de Casa (behind the Palace, which I still haven't seen as something always came up, usualy involving seeing friends of my friend, and some alcohol).

To get away from the really touristic places, you should walk into the barrios south of the center. Here you will find La Latina (where on Sunday you can find El Rastro, the fleamarket. which is more a professional market that is occupied for 90% with professional vendors. Watch you pockets, here!). And you will also find the multicultural barrio of Lavapies. (on the calle de Lavapies you will find about 6-7 Indian restaurants next to eachother, as I always forget the names, but look out for one with a vegetarian menu of 19.95 for 2 persons. That's lovely. And of course in Madrid ... eat outside.

If you would like to try more Spanish food, try a Spanish restaurants, and pick some things, that are on the racionnes list, and pick some things. (it would be handy to have a little dictionary, so you know what you order). If you are alone order 1 or 2 racionnes, with 2 persons order 3, that will be enough. (my favourites: Croquettes de Jamon, Tortilla and Patatas Bravas. A couple of weeks ago we had a lunch at the Calle de Agrumosa (you will find it between Lavapies metrostation and the Reina Sofia Museum.)

For a second breakfast around 11.00/11.30, choose Churros. They are deepfried sticks, that are really greasy, and you need to dip them in your coffee or hot chocolate (which is really thick! I always add a little bit of water). My favourite place is just south of Sol. If you are on Sol, enter the Calle de Carretas. (a smaller street than the big shopping streets on the other site of Sol, like the Calle de Carmen). On the Calle de Carretas, you will find a lot of shoeshops, and also Zara and Lefties (clothes), if you see them you will know you are on the right street. Turn left at the first street (Calle Cadiz?), and you will find some caf├ęs. I think the place you need to go is called Valladolid (but again I am not sure, I just walk in everytime). It is on the left, after about 50 meter, and is colored brown (and has a big window on the front.) it's not big, but it's really typical.

One last tip: is something that I found to be beautiful, is a small (kind of) mausoleum, near the Cathedral de Atocha. It has a small Rosarium, and is just a beautiful little place, where you normally will find nobody else. If you are a the Atocha Station (which you also need to see from the inside) you can find to walk south on the Avenida de la Cuidad de Barcelona. (Keep right, at the new monument in remembrance of the 11th of March attack at the Metro, and the gasstation). It's a broad busy street. You will see the tower of the Cathedral on the leftside of the street. Turn left after the Cathedral into a street called Calle de Julian Gayarra (uphill), you will find the entrance to the place, after about a 100 metres on your left.

For some action at night, you can especially in the weekend, find a lot of entertainment in the gay area of Chueca. You will also find a lot of mixed bars and clubs. But also in Lavapies and La Latina you will find a lot of bars with a good atmosphere. But then again you will find bars all over town.

Toledo is a must see if you are in Madrid. You can reach it very easy by taking the train at Atocha Station. On the Southside of the walls around the old city of Toledo, you will find escalators to take you up the hill. But you can also choose just to climb the hill. My advise, you be just to wander these streets. For some reason, on our visit, we didn't visit the Cathedral and the Alcazar (I need to go back there, myself again). But we saw the Old Mezquita (a 1000 years old), but not really worth the visit, although the people where you buy the ticket (across the street) was very nice to recommend a place to have lunch. (again I can't recall the name). We also visited the Synagoge, and the home of El Greco (which was not the home of El Greco!, but has some of his paintings, including a beautiful painting of Toledo.)

Segovia is also beautiful, and if you find the time, don't hesitate to go there. I did the trip by train, which took me 2 hours, as the train stops at a million stations between Madrid and Segovia. It is faster to go by bus. (from Chamartin). In Segovia you will find a beautiful Alcazar (Castle), which you can visit. You will get a leaflet in English, that explains the things you see in the rooms you visit when you enter the Castle. The view from the tower is great. Segovia has a small beautiful Plaza Major, with a lot of options to have a drink, or a meal. Here you will also find the Cathedral. But the most amazing structure in Segovia is the Roman Aqueduct.

4. Posted by jaxstar84 (Respected Member 415 posts) 9y

i second the visit to toledo!! i have a few pics from there in my gallery as well as madrid, i think... toledo is gorgeous but expect to get lost!! i was so lucky to have someone there with me to show me aroundwho lived there!

if youre on a budget you can take the bus to toledo as well, its really cheap, but also takes a bit longer...

5. Posted by Herr Bert (Moderator 1384 posts) 9y

Quoting jaxstar84

i second the visit to toledo!! i have a few pics from there in my gallery as well as madrid, i think... toledo is gorgeous but expect to get lost!! i was so lucky to have someone there with me to show me aroundwho lived there!

if youre on a budget you can take the bus to toledo as well, its really cheap, but also takes a bit longer...

Train takes half an hour and the bus takes one hour, from the busstation at the Mendez Alvaro metrostation. I think that you need a bus from the Samar company (if i remember correctly), and are indeed cheaper. Only take a good look of the departure time of the last bus leaving Toledo. I remember that it was pretty early (around 20.30??) If you miss it you can always go back by train.

I only hope you don't get stuck on the bus, with a French family demanding to sit on the places stated on their tickets (nobody does that in Spain) and their 4 very annoying kids. (sorry! personal memory from an other wise, perfect day)

6. Posted by RCA (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

Barcelona is an ideallocation. Sunny Sunny sunny and not full of tourists during that time. There are terrific sites to see and things to do for all interests. There are alos alot of choices for places and types of food to eat and places to stay. It is neat to stay inan apartment because you get alot of privacy and space for your money. There are many places to find flats but I recommend because they have a big range of prices and the flats are all over the city. You can check where a place is located because each apartment has a googlemap.
have fun!

7. Posted by j89 (Budding Member 3 posts) 9y

thanks for all the replies, ive decided im going to focus on andalucia, visiting sevilla,cordoba,granada etc. anybody been to andalucia, and what did you think? the sierra nevada should be pretty amazing in january....