White Night in Madrid

On Saturday 23rd September and Sunday, 24th September many of Madrid’s most famous buildings and locations will be lit up for the night and a number of ‘nocturnal’ (not just drinking!)events will take place. The “La Noche en Blanco Madrid” website describes the event thus:

The White Night corresponds to the model created by Paris’ Nuit Blanche, based on key concepts such as the city, night, culture, contemporary creation, cost-free experiences, discovering the city’s spaces and values, and pedestrian mobility supported by public transport and participation.


The White Night gathers a significant number of contemporary art galleries, bookshops, venues linked to design activities, live music venues, and playhouses and alternative theatres. A vast number of taverns, bars and restaurants have also wanted to take part in the initiative, forming a gastronomic circuit (see organisation and collaboration sections).

The website is pants, like many websites that come out of Madrid!, though it sort of gives you an idae of what’s going on that night.

Hay Festival Segovia

Hay Festival SegoviaAccording to Wiki:

Since 1988, Hay-on-Wye has been the venue for a literary festival, sponsored by The Guardian newspaper, which draws a claimed 80,000 visitors over ten days at the
beginning of June to see and hear big literary names from all over the world.

However, from the 21st-24th September, 2006 the festival will decamp to Spain for the Hay Festival Segovia. They have quite a lineup organised for the event, including Bob Geldof, Martin Amis, Ian Mc Ewan, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Ian Gibson, Doris Lessing, Fernando Savater, Chris Stewart and Vikram Seth will be amogst the speakers. There will be a concert by Bob Geldof and various film screenings. If you’ve never been to the unbelievably beautiful city of Segovia, this will be a fantastic opportunity.

Purchasing Tickets
Click here to buy tickets over the Internet >

Buy tickets over the phone from 1st September: +34 902101212

(9:00 am- 9:00 pm)

Ticket Prices
  7€ per event
3€ per screening

Related Article
Segovia – Alcázar , Aqueduct, Cathedral and great food

Rubén Olmo Stars as Bullfighter Belmonte

It seems like there has been quite a flood of flamenco shows going on in Madrid recently. Well, here´s another show to add to that list: Belmonte, starring one of Flamenco´s contemporary stars – Rubén Olmo. It is loosely based on the life of one of the 2oth Century´s great bullfighters, Juan Belmonte and runs from the 5th to 10th September, 2006 at the Teatro Albeniz. Ticket prices cost from 15 to 22 Euros.

Captain Alatriste Exhibition Opens

Capitan AlatristeToday, I went along to the press conference and opening of the exbitition, ‘El Madrid de Alatriste, el Madrid del siglo de Oro‘ which coincides with the September release of the film "Alatriste", starring Viggo Mortensen of Lord of the Rings fame (he was the king if I need mentioning it!).

The exhibition at the Casa de la Panaderia attempts to offer a tour of 17th Century Madrid using original costumes from the film, pictures of the shooting (created as oil paintings of the actors), poems, anecdotes, etc. The Madrid settings of Altriste, from its author Artur o Pérez-Reverte, follow the oldest and most well-known map of the city of Madrid – called the Plano de Texeira. I believe that many of the locations for the film are well-known places which visitors can still see today.

Incididentally, the books of Alatriste have sold over 4.5 million copies in 12 languages and this is only the first instalment of the series.

Entrance to the Exhibition is FREE

Opening Times
Tues-Fri: 10 am to 2 pm and 4pm to 8pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: 10 am to 2 pm

Related Articles/Links
Capitan Alatriste
Madrid/Spanish-related books
View Trailer
Alatriste on Spanish Yahoo!

Cumbre Flamenca en el Metro de Madrid

For the second year running Metro de Madrid will be holding the Cumbre Flamenca en el Metro de Madrid (Flamenco "Festival") in the city. From the 11th to the 15th September 2006, It will be inviting some of the top names in Flamenco, like María Pagés, El Capullo de Jerez, Niña Pastori, Mayte Martín and Enrique de Melchor, to perform in the Hall of Nuevos Minsiterios Metro Station. Aside from the great names is the great price: FREE. All performances take place at 10 p.m.

Summer Suggestions From El Pais

Just came across a guide on the El Pais website about things that you can do in Madrid over summer. It includes some neat little video clips of some of the city’s attractions, including the Plaza de ventas, the Aquariem, Xanadu, Parque de Attraciones (fun fair), the Botanic gardens and one on Madrid’s terrazas. There is a link on the main page to EP3 which gives details on upcoming events going on in the city.

J and J Books and Coffee

I haven’t done a visitor recommendation for quite some time now so it was nice to receive an email from someone last week. Here’s what Greg had to say:

I recently found your site and saw that the best bookstore in Madrid is actually not listed on your site. It’s a new and used bookstore with a bar/coffee shop attached. It has the best selection of English books in all of Madrid. Over 25,000 books and also different activities throughout the week for meeting new people and hanging out.
The place is called J&J Books and Coffee
It’s located on C/Espiritu Santo, 47 in Madrid’s center.

I seriously hope that you will add them to your site because it’s the best place there.

Thanks for the recommendation Greg and if anyone else has been there, please let me know.

Madrid/Spanish-related books

I am just preparing my summer break – we’re off to Avila for a couple of weeks – and was thinking about what books I could take with me to read. Here are some of the books that I’m currently leafing through:
Captain Alatriste
Captain Alatriste – Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
This is the first in the series of the Alatriste novels, which are set in 17th century Spain and focus on the swashbuclkling adventures of soldier Captain Alatriste. Madrid features quite prominently in them. Watch out for the film which comes out in September.

Visit Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

A Load Of BullA Load of Bull (An Englishman’s Adventures in Madrid) – Tim Parfitt
I’m looking forward to reading this book and hopefully Tim will soon be participating in the ‘My Madrid’ section of the site. Reviews from what I’ve seen have been favourable for this book and it is finding it’s way into a number of bookshops (I’ve even seen a few in Waterstones in Swansea, Wales!).

Visit Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk



Almond Blossom Appreciation Society – Chris Stewart

This is not actually related to Madrid but will no doubt prove to be a damn good read like his previous books: Driving Over Lemons and A Parrot in the Pepper Tree. It continues the story of Chris Stewart who gave up life in the UK to go and buy a farm in Southern Spain. You probably won’t be able to put it down!

Visit Amazon.co.uk (not yet out in the States)

Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country’s Hidden Past – Giles Tremlett

Giles Tremlett is the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent and has lived in Spain for around 20 years. The book focuses on, amongst other things, Franco and the Civil War, and asks why the Spanish have chosen to forget the horrors of this period. However, i’s not just about the civil war and includes chapters on Spanish corruption, tourism industry , flamenco and the Basque problem. From what I’ve read so far, it’s proving to be a very good book.

Visit Amazon.co.uk (not yet available in the US)

Picasso Exhibitions Extended

Here is a press release that I came upon today, regarding the Picasso exhibtions in Madrid. It should prove of interest to visitors to Madrid over the next 6 weeks:

Two key exhibitions showing works by Pablo Picasso at Madrid’s Prado and Reina Sofia museums are being extended owing to huge demand, the culture ministry announced.
The "Picasso, tradition and avant-garde" shows displaying some 100 pieces by the artist will remain open until September 10 at the Prado and until September 25 at Reina Sofia.
The exhibitions, which opened on June 5 and were originally due to end on September 3, have attracted 450,000 visitors.
[Source: AFP]

Tales From Madrid (BBC Programme)

If you live in the UK, you may be interested to know that BBC 2 is showing a documentary called Tales from Madrid on Wednesday, 9th August 2006. Originally broadcast on BBC Four, this programme is presented by Kirsty Wark and Adil Ray. If they’re anything like other similar Kirsty Wark programmes, they will be well worth watching. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to see:

Kirsty Wark and Adil Ray go in search of the cultural heart of Spain’s
capital city. Kirsty meets Anna Obregon, the actress and femme fatale
who got on the wrong side of Victoria Beckham, and Michael Robinson,
the British footballer who has become one of Spain’s most popular TV
presenters. Adil tries to keep pace with the locals in a city that is
notorious for all-night partying and finds out how the country is
finally coming to terms with the legacy of Franco through a top-rated
TV drama.

Madrid in August

I think that I will be posting light during the month of August – there isn’t much going on! As many of you may be aware the city tends to close its shutters for the month (though things are changing) and some of the best-loved bars and restaurants will close for the staff to take a well-earned break. However, it’s not all quiet and I’ll try and keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the city over the next few weeks.

Metropoli has a review of 5 plays by contemporary authors that will play over the month at the Casa Encendida, which by the way has one of the summer’s best terrazas (open air bars). The authors are contemporary playwrights: Rafa Ponce, Sara Molina, Carlos Rod and Pilar Campos, Carlos Sarrió and Álex Naranjo. Entrance costs just 3 Euros.

There looks like an interesting exhibition over at the Círculo  de Bellas Artes, entitled "De la España que emigra a la España que acoge" (from the Spain which emigrated to the Spain which took in). It has eight starnds to it, which include: The exile of 1939, From the country to the city, America and other countries, The return and Spain country of welcome.

Tour of Madrid in August

Madrid Tour

From the 17th August to 31st August, 2006 I will be organising walking tours of Madrid. They are designed to take people on tours of some of my favourite Madrid haunts, from streets, buildings, plazas, parks, museums and, possibly, a couple of bars! The plan is for the the tours to last around 3-4 hours and will include a couple of refreshment stops.

My intention is to take people to places that they would never have thought of going and to give valuable advice on how to make your stay in Madrid the best possible. This advice will include useful tips and advice which you can use for the rest of your stay in Madrid, from events, venues, bars, restaurants, ways to save money and excursions.

The dates and times are quite flexible and prices will cost 60 Euros, a deposit required beforehand. I envisage that groups will be quite small (probably no more than 5 people) and suggest you email me to book your place.

Madrid’s Popular Local Dishes, Recipes, Foods and Places to Eat

For those who don’t yet know – and there may be some – Madrid is one fantastic, gastronomic experience. Putting aside the Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Thai restaurants that most major cities have, Madrid offers some of the very best “Spanish” restaurants that you will find in Spain.

The costas of Spain may well be renowned for frozen, packaged and processed food but in Madrid some of the only places that dish this sort of food up are the foreign, American burger and fast food joints. Interestingly, one of Spain’s top chefs, Ferrán Adriá, opened a new fast food concept called “Fast Good” just over 2 years ago – the idea being to offer fresh, quality, fast food.

I don’t have much experience of other capital cities but I do know that Madrid offers a very broad selection of regional food from around the country: from Basque and Galician to Valencian, Andalucian and Madrileño.

Here are some starting points for those who want to sample ‘local’ cuisine.
EsMadrid offers its guide to Madrileñan cooking, though admittedly it is all in Spanish. Here you can find some of the Madrid region’s favourite dishes: Cocido Madrileño (stew), Callos a la Madrileña (sort of tripe with beans), Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup), Tortilla de Patata (no need to translate), Bacalao a la Madrileña (Salted Cod in a sauce) and Potaje de Garbanzos (chick pea stew). The guide even includes recipes and points you in the direction of some typical Madrileñan bars/restaurants, like Malacatín, La Bola, La Posada de la Villa, Don Cocido, Casa Carola and L
a Taberna de Daniela.

This site also has some good suggestions about ‘asadores’ (grill houses) where you can eat the culinary delights of the Basque-Navarre and Castilian regions. Some of suggestions are plain mouth-watering: suckling pig, bream, Basque Hake, sardines and cod, with many of the suggested restaurants frequented by film, sporting and political celebrities.

NOTE: Some of EsMadrid’s pages don’t work too well in Firefox (like the one above) and you will have to use Internet Explorer to view them!!!

Spain.info is the Spanish Tourist Board website, and a very good one it is, too. The site offers its guide to both food products and dishes from the Madrid region, including:

Olives from Campo Real
Chinchón White Garlic
Anis from Chinchón

Beef from the Guadarrama Mountains
Asparagus from Aranjuez
Madrid virgin olive oil

and some popular dishes from the region:

Garlic soup
Madrid ‘cocido’ (meat, potato and chickpea stew)
Madrid ‘Torrijas’  (bread pudding)

Madrid tripe
Madrid-style baked red bream
Potato omelette

It also has some suggestion, taken from the Campsa Guide of places where you can eat.

By the way if you’d like to try out some of the recipes of Spain’s most famous ‘TV’ chef, Karlos Arguiñano, I would suggest you visit his website: La cocina de Karlos Arguiñano, where you will find at least a few hundred Spanish recipes – be aware it is all in Spanish!

Madrid Challenge
Try not to eat or drink in any of the international chains: Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. The food will be much better and at least you will be immersing yourself in the local culture and food.

Related Articles
Fast Good a new fast food concept opens in Madrid