The fiestas of San Isidro are the most important fiestas of Madrid and honour Madrid’s Patron saint San Isidro. During the month of May there will be a number of events taking place, which include dances and fairs. The saint’s day is actually on 15th May and is a holiday in the city.
The fiestas of San Isidro are mainly associated with the bullfights that go on in the City’s bullring, Las Ventas. The bullfights which start on May 11th, and go on for over a month, are probably the most important (and best) that you will find anywhere in Spain. They attract the best matadors and, obviously, tickets are both hard to come by and expensive (though I did see some availabel on their website at reasonable prices).
The Plaza de las Ventas is a vast arena which can seat around 24,000 people and is considered the most important bullfighting venue in the world. It is a place where Spain’s ‘beautiful people’ go and you are bound to see the King of Spain, a famous actress or popstars, over the next month. An afternoon of bullfighting usually consists of 6 bullfights and can last a couple of hours. Two of the days will be dedicated to "corridas de rejoneo" – an amazing spectacle with bullfighters on horses.
Curiously, outside the arena there is a statue which is dedicated to Alexander Fleming, whose discovery of penicillin, has saved many a bullfighter over the years.
Tickets can be bought over the Internet (through Las Ventas website).
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a ticket to watch Real Madrid v Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (courtesy of Angel, a VERY generous friend of my father-in-law’s) and boy was that an experience. Having enjoyed the wonderful experience, and a great win to boot for the home team, I am now planning on taking a tour of the stadium in the near future. Here are some details I picked up from Real Madrid’s website about the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium Tour:
The tour includes panoramic views of the stadium, a visit to the presidential box, the dressing rooms, players’ tunnel, the pitch, the trophy room and the Real Madrid shop. Tours take place between 10.30 a.m and 6.30 p.m, except on match days when the tours will finish 6 hours before the game and on the days after a game when they will be closed. Special prices exist for Real Madrid season ticket holders and "Madrista" ticket holders, with prices being 7€ for under 14’s and 9€ for adults.
Metro: Santiago Bernabeu
On Sunday 24th April the streets of Madrid will be filled with runners participating in the 28th Popular Marathon of Madrid – so bear this in mind if you’re planning to make trips to popular sites – Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real, for example. The event begins at 9.30 am and the starting line is on the Paseo de Recoletos. For more information, take a look at the (poor) official Madrid Marathon website.
Within the next couple of weeks the City Council of Madrid will install an ice rink in Retiro Park – the first time that they have ever done this in the park. In an area where roller skating is practiced, the council will create a huge rink, complete changing rooms, people to help you skate and facilities to rent out boots. The ice rink will be set up in December and run through until January and it is anticipated that you will be able to listen to live music in the area surrounding the rink.
Since Saturday 4th September, the Vuelta de España cycling race has wound its way around the whole of Spain. This Sunday the final stage will be held within Madrid and it is believed that it will go down to the wire. The race will pass around famous city landmarks like the Casa de Campo, Cibeles fountain, the Prado and Gran Vía and will likely pack the streets of the city.
As the Olympics are now going on in Athens I thought it would be a good opportunity to write an article on Madrid’s bid to hold the 2012 Olympics. The city is bidding against London, Moscow, New York and Paris and the winner will be told on July 6, 2005. All things considered many are of the opinon that it will come down to Paris, Madrid and London with Madrid having a very good chance if it can overcome the main contender Paris. The city has the support of most of its citizens, and fellow Spaniards, and has the infrastructure already in place to handle both the visitors and competitors.
Madrid has developed a website, Madrid 2012, which gives visitors information on the Games Model, the Installations it plans to build and Environmental and Traffic issues regarding the holidng of the games, amongst other things.
It is also possible to volunteer to help with the Olympics (10,000 have already applied) and you can even download an Olympic Relay baton which you can attach to email messages. These batons when clicked on by recipients will take them to a page where they can sign the visitors’ book. It’s all good fun but the serious issue is to help promote the city as the ideal venue for the 2012 Olympics.
Electronic Signature – Madrid 2M12
Real Madrid have this weekend signed Michael Owen, the Liverpool and England star. Negotiations went on for much of last week and finally Real Madrid got their man – and for a very good price: £8 million plus Real Madrid’s Antonio Nuñez. The potential revenue for Real Madrid shirts with “Owen 11” will undoubtedly be astronomical.
Related News Articles
Owen unveiled by Real (BBC web site)
Michael Owen profile (BBC web site)
Me alegra que Owen lleve el ’11’; como futbolista, es un monstruo (Real Madrid site)
El cuarto Balon de Oro (Real Madrid web site)
Owen: “Es un orgullo llevar el número de Gento” (Marca web site)
Owen: “Aquíestán los mejores, eso es excitante” (El Mundo web site)
This month sees the launch of Michael Owen’s first official autobiography. These books can be pre-ordered at Amazon:
The City Council of Madrid has organised a series of free activities for the summer in both the Retiro Park and the Casa de Campo. The events are organised for both adults and children under the ages of 8 and mainly take the form of strolls around certain areas of both parks; though one activity includes a trip to a bird and butterfly centre. For more information, download this pdf Itinerarios Verdes from the Madrid City Council website or call them on 91 639 7969 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
I just came across a very interesting article about Real Madrid and the power of its brand. Entitiled Real Madrid brings Hollywood touch to soccer it discusses how Real Madrid have managed to turn themselves into probably the best-known brand not just in football but any sport. Here is an excerpt from it:
Beckham is a cornerstone of Real’s strategy to build a team of soccer stars or “galacticos” with Hollywood glamour and marketing appeal from Shanghai to San Diego.
And you thought it was about the football!!
If you’re looking to book your trip to Madrid around an important Real Madrid football match, then here’s a breakdown of all fixtures from the primera liga:
Spanish Primera Liga to 16th January, 2005
Spanish Primera Liga to 29th May, 2005
The two main Madrid clubs in the league are Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, with Getafe, a neighbourhood in the south of Madrid, going up to the primera this season.
Real Madrid Shop in centre of Madrid
From the middle of May through to the middle of September, the municipal and private sports centres of Madrid open their open air swimming pools to the public. These swimming pools often form part of large sporting complexes where you will find sports halls, tennis courts and a multitude of other recreational activities. I must say I also like the fact that you can buy ice cold beers there, too!! Here are a few municipal swimming pools that I’ve been to:
Instalación Deportiva Municipal Francos Rodríguez
Numancia, 1 (28039)
Bus: 44, 127, 128, 132
Metro: Francos Rodríguez
Club Deportivo Canal de Isabel II
C/ Cea Bermúdez 2
(This is one of the largest sporting clubs in Spain)
Instalación Deportiva Municipal Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo
Bus: 31, 33, 36, 39, 65 and 138
Metro: El Lago/Puerta del Ángel
Prices for all of the above
Adults: 3.80 euros
Over 65’s: 0.90 euros
Under 16’s: 2.15 euros
Full list of Sports Centres
Ayuntamiento de Madrid
Instalaciones Municipales de Deportes
The Parque de Atracciones, set in Madrid’s vast Casa de Campo park, is the city’s main theme park. It has been around for many, many years and is open all year round. Summer makes it an ideal place to visit, especially at night, because in addition to its many attractions the air is much cooler than the centre of the city. Here is an excerpt from the Spain.info website on the attractions you can expect:
Mythical roller coasters like 7 Picos (7 peaks) are joined by such impressive attractions as El Tornado, La Lanzadera or La Turbina. Roller coasters that reach speeds of 80 km/h, giant pendulums that can move 180 degrees, or free falls from 63 metres high turn your visit into an unforgettable experience. Strong emotions are the order of the day on aquatic attractions such as Los Fiordos or Los Rápidos, which offer a good moment to cool down.
In the Tranquil Zone more relaxing activities are offered such as boats trips in the jungle, a 15 metre high ferris wheel, or great radio control games.Small children have their own area with small roller coasters and water slides, bumper cars or pirate ships, all mini sized.Puppet theatres, train rides or adventure playgrounds complete the offering.
During the summer months the Parque de Atracciones plays host to a number of concerts, with performances taking place in a specially designed auditorium. In addition, there are a huge amount of bars and restaurants to be found within the park – it is also refreshing to find restaurants which will serve up typical Spanish fair and not the usual junk food you associate with theme parks. However, if you wish to bring your own food and drink, there are zones/picnic areas set apart for people to enjoy pre-prepared food.
Calco (pass) adult (7 and above) 20.90 €.
Calco (pass) child (children 3-7 ): 11.80 €.
Child under 3 : Free admission.
Admission only:5.00 €.
Bus: Lines 33 and 35.
Metro: Line 10 (Batán Station).
Any trip to Madrid will invariably involve a lot of foot slogging around the streets, often in warm temperatures. What better way of relaxing your body than going to authentic Arabic Baths. The Medina Mayrit Baths, located on Calle Atocha, have three rooms with different temperatures and offer visitors massage and aromatherapy. The entry cost of 25 Euros includes bath, aromatherapy and massage and entitles you to spend one and a half hours at the baths. Prices for those over 65 and students are less. The complex also includes a tea room and restaurant. Full details can be found (in English) on the Medina Mayrit Baths website.
C/ Atocha, 11
Walking up the Calle del Carmen, one of the streets off the Puerta del Sol, you will find a shop dedicated to everything related to Real Madrid. You wil find shirts of all the stars (including Beckham, Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo), tracksuits, signed autographs, baby clothes and many other items. With the latest digital editing equipment, you can even buy a picture of yourself holding the Champions Cup with Ronaldo!
If you can’t wait to get to Madrid and want a David Beckham Football Shirt now, why not buy one on Amazon?
Metro: Puerta del Sol
From this Financial Times article it looks like David Beckham is really enjoying his stay in Madrid. But can you imagine him saying he enjoys jamón serrano as much as fish and chips!
Real Madrid in the centre of Madrid