All posts by Alun John

FNAC – a must-see store

Metro: 3 & 5
FNAC is, I believe, a French company, which specialises in the sale of books, CD’s, software, cameras, laptops, magazines and loads more. It is one of my favourite stores in Madrid and is a great place to ‘waste’ a couple of hours of time. You can find music and books in English and it even has a huge ‘music booth’ where people can sit down and listen to music, whilst reading the books they may, or may not, buy.

The Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is one of the finest museums in Europe. It is situated on the stylish Paseo del Prado, a lovely part of Madrid with the Retiro park just a short walk away and right next to the Ritz Hotel, the Palace Hotel, the fountain of Neptune and the stock exchange. It has some great art from artists like Goya, El Greco, Velázquez and Hieronymous Bosch. As it is a such a large museum, and can take an age to get around, you may want to consider making 2 trips to the museum (Sunday is Free!).

Tickets are priced quite cheaply 3.01 Euros / 1.5 € (Consessions) and it’s actually free on Sundays. If you’d like to do the ‘art triangle’ of the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía, then you can buy an art pass for 7.66 €

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Top 10 Attractions and Sites of Madrid

If you were only going to see 10 sites in Madrid, then these would be my recommendations:

1. The Prado Museum – Metro Banco de España
2. Puerta del Sol – Metro Sol
3. Plaza Mayor – Metro Sol
4. Retiro Park – Metro Retiro
5. Royal Palace – Metro Ópera
6. Calle Gran Vía – Metro Gran Vía, Plaza de España, Callao and Banco de España
7. Reina Sofía Museum – Metro Banco de España
8. Thyssen Museum – Metro Banco de España
9. Fountains of Cibeles and Jupiter – Metro Banco de España and Colon
10. Puerta de Alcalá – Metro Retiro

Please let me know if you have any favourites you could add to this list.

Real Madrid tickets and David Beckham

number 23.jpg
David Beckham joined Real Madrid last month and you can find the number ’23’ shirt all over the country’s capital. I have seen prices as low as 48 Euros (not sure how genuine they were) and topping put at 78 Euros. Tickets for Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium are now in hotter demand than ever, so where can you pick them up? A number of searches on the Internet will churn up tickets that cost around 250 Euros! I would recommend looking at this discussion board for some interesting and useful advice. You could also try the Real Madrid site itself and contact them directly.

Getting to the Bernabeu is pretty straighforward, you can catch the number 27 bus (or any number of others) up the Paseo de la Castellana or take line 10 on the Metro

See also: Real Madrid Shop in centre of Madrid

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol is one of the most important of Madrid’s squares. It is the place where young people meet; where people stop off to go to the Plaza Mayor and old Madrid; a place to shop in department and smaller stores and on 31st December, the New Year is brought in to the chimes of the Puerta del Sol clock.

The design of the Puerta del Sol, as we see it today, was begun in 1859 and was the culmination of the opening of Plazas (and destruction of old buildings!) throughout Madrid by José Bonaparte,

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Madrid – Metro and Bus Travel

Getting around many of the main attractions in Madrid can be done quite easily on foot; for longer distances, or in hot weather, there’s always the Metro. Metro Madrid has undergone extensive development over the last 10-15 years and is now one of the finest in Europe. It is also one of the cheapest – single journeys cost around 1 Euro and a 10-ticket pass costs 5.20 Euros. The latter offers great value and also lets you use the bus services, too. The Metro is open from 6 a.m until 2 a.m.

Tickets can be bought from the Metro stations or from Tobacconists. If you’re coming from the airport, then you can take the Metro to almost the centre of Madrid. The Metro Madrid web site offers metro maps, street maps and timetables, amonsgt other things.

TIP You will find that pickpockets (often operating in groups of 3) do operate on the Metro, especially in the Puerta del Sol and Atocha area. Always be wary of people who have a coat slung over their arms or who tuck newspapers up in such a way to conceal stolen wallets. My advice is to keep your bags and wallets safe and make sure you don’t get into situations where you’re being pushed.

“We Will Rock You” comes to Madrid

we will rock you.jpg
The rock musical “We Will Rock You” hits the Madrid stage on October 1st. The show was written by Ben Elton and Queen and has been a huge success in London. Opening night tickets, at the Teatro Calderón (Metro Puerta del Sol), have been sold for weeks now but other nights are still available. If you’re looking for tickets, try buying from the theatre itself; from ServiCaixa or from the store FNAC (which is located in Metro Callao). I have also come across these sites where you can purchase tickets (October 1st): Halcon Viajes and If you can speak Spanish, take a look at the article written in El Mundo’s theatre section.

Related Links
‘Cats’ – The Musical comes to Madrid
“Cabaret”, the Broadway hit, arrives in Madrid

Getting to Madrid (by plane)

The companies that fly to Madrid, from the UK, can be split into the standard larger carriers like British Airways and the ‘no frills’ airlines, like Easy Jet. Let’s take a look at them:
British Airways and Iberia are the ones I usually fly with; the latter you need to book well in advance to get reasonable prices.
British Midland – I flew with them this summer but bought the ticket through Opodo, which worked out cheaper. Opodo is actually owned by the big European airlines.

I often find that flight bookers like Travelocity or Expedia offer better prices than the airlines themselves.

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List of sites that link to Mad About Madrid

Here are a list of sites that link to the Mad About Madrid website:

iTravelnet Travel Directory Comprehensive directory for travel related web sites. Destination guides, travel news and travelogues. Book cheap airfares, discount hotels and car hire.

Travelling Spain – an extensive travel guide that covers most of the major Spanish cities and contains many links.

Transitions Abroad was created as the antidote to tourism, a magazine with the specific goal of providing information that would enable travelers to actually meet the people of other countries, to learn about their culture, to speak their language, and to "transition" to a new level of understanding and appreciation for our fascinating world.

Madrid – a brief overview

Madrid – capital of Spain and the supposed geographic and political centre of Spain; well the exact geographic centre of Spain is actually just outside Madrid but the centre of practically everything else Spanish, it certainly is. Madrid is the home of the Royal Family; the parliament; all major government ministeries; the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums; the football team Real Madrid and now even David Beckham!

Madrid – a history in 2 paragraphs
There has been some sort of settlement in Madrid for well over 2000 years. Probably, the most important first rulers were the Moors who occupied the area for around 200 years. Madrid was known as ‘Magerit’, and was founded during the reign of Emir Mohammed I of Córdoba. Alfonso VI of Castile took over power of Toledo and Madrid around 1085. Felip II made Madrid the home of the royal court in 1561 but, unfortunately, the city is under developed over the next century or so and in 1700 Hapsburg Spain comes to an end with the death of Carlos II.

Philip V became the first Bourbon king of Spain in 1700 and ruled until 1746. Between the years 1808 and 1813 the French occupy Spain under Napoleon. The next hundred years see a series of kings, 2 republics and a dictatorship; finally in 1939 General Franco, leader of the right-wing nationalists comes to power and holds on to it until he dies in 1975. King Juan Carlos becomes king on Franco´s death and the country´s first democratic elections in over 40 years take place in 1977.

Mad About Madrid- a Mission Statement

Mad About Madrid has been running for around 4 years now and has offered travel advice to hundreds of thousands of visitors (433,229 to date) from all over the world. Most visitors come from the States, closely followed by visitors from Spain, the UK and Ireland. It has now managed to position itself as one of the leading sites for visitors to Spain’s Capital City. It is prominently placed on Google for most Madrid search terms, is regularly referenced on news websites and on weblogs and has hundreds of external links into it.

About Me.
My name is Alun John and, as you may guess from reading my articles, I am very passionate about Madrid. I lived there for eight years, up until I left in 1997, and now live just outside Cardiff, Wales. My wife and her family are from Madrid and that’s how I am able to get out there around 3-4 times a year. We have two children – Jac and Sofía – who are [almost] 5 and 3. For around the past eight years I have worked as an Internet Marketing Consultant and you can find out a little more about this on Marketing Tom, my business website.

More on Mad About Madrid

Here’s something that I wrote way back in 2003 but which has not really changed:

This site is actually a blog, which allows me to add an article, as and when I want. This article can be allocated a category, like Madrid Travel, so that when you click on categories you will find all articles, listed in chronological order, that I have written on that subject. In addition, this blog allows visitors the opportunity to leave comments on practically every article (except this one!!).

Mad About Madrid will aim to give visitors a comprehensive guide to all things associated with Madrid. This will cover getting to Madrid, getting around Madrid, eating, sleeping, visiting and having fun in Madrid. Expect to see information on Madrid’s buildings, walks, parks, sports and excursions from Madrid.  The web site will also attempt to keep visitors up-to-date with the latest events going on in Madrid.

I always check my website statistics to identify what articles interest visitors and am always willing to listen to readers’ suggestions on articles that I should write about.

I must admit that I have tried, with various degrees of success, to monetize the site and most of my revenue comes from Google AdWords and Hotel Booking fees. However, I am always happy to discuss advertising opportunities with businesses. Please feel free to email me on any queries you have on Madrid.

¡Hasta pronto!


[Updated April 2007]