All posts by Alun John

Mad About Madrid To Relaunch

Many of you will see that this site hasn't been updated for over 2 years now. The main reason is that we have focused on our core business, Marketing Tom Media, a digital marketing training company. Marketing Tom offers the CAM Diploma in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing training courses in London and Cardiff (Madrid will follow this year!). 

However, we have taken the decision to revamp the site and give it a completely new feel and to give it some new direction. We expect that this process will take a few weeks to move over and hopefully then we will be up and running with new content, discussions and new products. If you'd like to speak to me in the interim, please visit the contact us page of the Marketing Tom website.

Looking For Collaborators For Mad About Madrid

As many of you will have noticed this website has not had many articles published of late!! This has purely been down to the fact that I have dedicated ALL my time to building my consultancy and training company, Marketing Tom Media.

However, in 2009 I plan to change the whole direction of Mad About Madrid and intend to turn it into one of the most exciting travel blogs on the web. It will feature video blogging, Google mashups and a number of Social Media tools.

In order to make this happen I require the help of collaborators from within and outside Madrid. They will have an understanding and love of the city and be willing to write articles, take photos and even add videos.

If you would like to help me realise the potential of Mad About Madrid and make some money along the way, please get in touch with me. I will be in Madrid from the 26th December for 10 days if you’d like to meet up for a coffee (or a beer!).

Suma Flamenca – Flamenco Festival Hits Madrid

For the third year running Suma Flamenca hits the streets of Madrid with a mixture of music, dance, cinema, poetry and exhibitions across not just Madrid Centre but the whole of the Madrid Community. Artists who are appearing include: Estrella Morente, Carmen Linares, Arcángel, Pitingo, Serranito, Miguel Poveda, Eva Yerbabuena and La Moneta. More information can be found on the Suma Flamenca and EsMadrid sites. The festival runs from the 17th May to the 15th June, 2008.

Mad About Madrid Resumes

If you’re a regular visitor to this site you will have seen that postings have been a little on the thin side recently!!

I have not posted to this site since February 28th, 2008 – that’s 3 months without posting!


Because I have been developing my own Internet Marketing Training and Consultancy Business in Cardiff, Wales. Over this time I have managed to achieve Accredited Centre status from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, delivered an eMarketing training programme in Jakarta, rolled out some Social Media Marketing courses and done much consultancy. If any of this interests you head over to Marketing Tom Media , otherwise stick with Mad About Madrid

Marketing Tom Media has taken up much of my time over the last few months and shortly I will be working taking the big step to work full-time for my own business. Cool! For those who are REALLY interested, please take a look at the courses I run such as the eMarketing Award and Social Media Marketing Courses.

However, I am going to start to focus some of my newfound time on Mad About Madrid and make it THE best resource for information on Madrid on the web.

My Madrid – Rosa Jiménez Cano

rosa>Rosa Jiménez Cano has lived in Madrid since she was a child. She lived in Coslada, a neighbourhood of Madrid, until she finshed Secondary School but once she started university she discovered that "I just slept in Coslada… But I lived in Madrid, the city I love. Right now, I’m moving to a new flat in Tablas de Montecarmelo in the north of the city."

Rosa works as a journalist in El Pais, although she is also known as a blogger. Her interests are reading, internet, photos, travelling, and journalism, and she maintains and co-writes for a number of sites: Les Cent Jours, Periodismo Ciudadano, Ahora Bolivia… With a friendo Paco Polo she has just published a book about blogs, called "La Gran Guía de los Blogs 2008". Rosa intends to make this a yearly edition, telling people what has happened in the blogosphere every year and explaining who’s who in, as she puts it "the tiny but pretty world."

This is her Madrid:

What is your favourite bar/Café? La Bardemcilla en Chueca, it’s a great place to stay and chat with friends. Tapas has a "home made" taste difficult to find.

What is your favourite dish? A kind of little beans called "Carillas" but just my granma’s secret recipe. 😉 I don’t any restaurant that cooks them. It’s a shame.

What is your favourite tapas? Bravas, and they’re always a surprise. It depends on the bar you can find a different style. I love them.

What is your favourite restaurant? Picanha,they hace just five or six different dishes, but all them, specially meat picanha tastes so natural and high quality. The service is reakky kind. All them are from Brazil.

What is your favourite shop? Well, more than a shop is a megastore: fnac. But I’m sure it has to be banned. I do always fall and buy a gadget I don’t need there.

What is your favourite season? Summer. Definitely, summer in Madrid is great. You have the best of the city with places to leave your car, open air cinema and loads of "terrazas" to have a drink with friends.

What is your favourite barrio? Centro. I love walking in the city. Well, my best friends live between Moncloa and Chamberí, so, i go there very often.

What is your favourite building? The "Metropolis" one, between Gran Vía and Calle Alcalá.

A perfect ‘night out’ in Madrid would ….be any night, you never know what it’s going to happen.

What is your favourite walk? From Atocha to Cibeles, and the all gran vía until Callao. Then Puerta del Sol, and a final walk to Plaza Mayor.

What is your favourite Spanish-related book? La Tesis de Nancy, by Ramón J. Sender, funny and wel written. It’s about a young English girl who comes to study in Franco’s Spain. She finds lots of cultural changes.

Best Day Trip: Mmm, really  difficult to answer. Toledo or Salamanca, Both are great cities.

What does Madrid mean to you? The place where I’d like to finish my days.

A piece of advice for visitors: Let it happen!

New Year’s Eve in Madrid

I have been asked this question so many times now, that I thought I would display the answer on the site. I would also welcome suggestions by other people on the subject, which is:

What can I do and where can I go on New Year’s Eve in Madrid?

This is what I normally end up doing if I find myself in Madrid with my wife, her family and our friends.

Many places in Madrid have private parties on that night – especially the nightclubs. Tickets are not that bad – around 40-60 Euros. However, I have only once been to one of these places and I would
personally recommend that you do the following:
Have a late dinner in a nice restaurant, preferably near the centre of the city as you don’t want to be catching the Metro (I do believe it closes for an hour or two). Try and finish around 11.15  – 11.30. Head as near to the Puerta del Sol as you can. Make sure you buy yourselves a bottle of Cava (Spanish champagne) – I would personally ask the waiter in the previous restaurant to keep it chilled for you. You also need to buy twelve grapes and make sure that you eat them on the stroke of each chime at 12 midnight.

I would then head over to Plaza Santa Ana where you will find plenty of nightlife – and in the nearby streets such as calle Huertas. Try the Moderna, Cerveceria Alemana and Naturbier. You may want to explore the bars around c/ Principe, such as Viva Madrid.  Don’t be alarmed if the bars are closed – this does happen as it gives waiters and bar staff the chance to celebrate with their families. They will open at least by 1 am!

And finally, try and have a cup of chocolate in Cafeteria San Gines – preferably around 6 or 7 in the morning.

These are just some quick thoughts and I would welcome suggestions from other people on where to go in Madrid on New Year’s Eve. Simply add a comment below.

La Bruja (The Witch) at the Teatro de la Zarzuela

According to Wikipedia, Zarzuela

is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song, as well as dance. The name derives from a Royal hunting lodge, the Palacio de la Zarzuela near Madrid, where this type of entertainment was first presented to the court.

thewitchThere are two main forms of zarzuela: Baroque zarzuela (c.1630–1750), the earliest style, and Romantic zarzuela (c.1850–1950), which can be further divided into two, main sub-genres of género grande and género chico although other sub-divisions exist.

Well, if you enjoy opera and can understand Spanish quite well, and you’re in Spain over the next couple of weeks, you could be in for a festive treat. The 150-year old Teatro de la Zarzuela is putting on one of the best works of the well-known (in Spain anyway!) composer Ruperto Chapi, La Bruja. If your Spanish is a little rusty and you would like to get the gist of what goes on, here’s a site that will offer you some advice. Alternatively, you can download the complete synopsis (pdf), in English and Spanish from the Teatro de la Zarzuela website. As someone whose musical tastes are quite varied, I would certainly recommend seeing this unique Spanish experience.

14th December, 2007 – 20th January, 2008

Teatro de la Zarzuela,  Jovellanos, 4
Metro: Sevilla

Oh Baby it’s Cold Inside!

What happens if you put 250 tonnes of ice, 54 ice and snow artists and empty space in Madrid together?

Take a look at the video on this page to find out.

If you fancy going there, you will also find an ice rink and a couple of giant nativity scenes, amongst other things. The area is probably the heart of Madrid’s business district and has a number of shopping centres nearby.

Azca (Metro: Nuevos Ministerios)

Walk the Paseo del Prado and Paseo de Recoletos

Here’s a walk that I have done many, many times and I thought I’d share it with readers of Mad About Madrid.

We will start off in the Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V (or the Glorieta de Atocha). Atocha station, which occupies the south side of the square, is the main railway station in Madrid, and trains from both the Madrid community and the Spanish regions arrive here. The station was inaugurated in 1851, destroyed and rebuilt in 1892.  The old terminal building was taken out of service in 1992 and turned into a shopping centre and tropical gardens. The latter is a great place to chill and take in some of the 500 plant species. Atocha station is also well-known as the place where 191 people were murdered in 2004 and you will also find special consoles there where you can leave a hand silhouette and message.

350px-PicassoGuernica To the West of the square you will see the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food. The building was completed in 1897 and with its Corinthian columns and winged statues on its roof is very impressive. Heading South-west of the Plaza you will find one of three museums which make up Madrid’s Golden Triangle (the other two are the Prado and Thyssen), the  Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The art on display in this museum is mainly Spanish and includes one of the most well-known paintings in the world – Picasso’s Guernica.

Head north off the square and you start to walk up the Paseo del Prado. The word “Prado” in English means meadow and was the place outside the main city walls where Madrileños used to go for recreation. The Paseo del Prado is one of the main boulevards of Madrid and, like much of this part of the city, came about under the reign of Carlos III. Around this time the area was covered in trees and the idea was to convert it into a place with gardens and trees and with the urban design of José de Hermosilla fountains (Cibeles, Neptune and Apolo) would be added.

On the west side of this boulevard you will see the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanic Gardens), again under the command of Carlos III (in 1781). It covers around 8 hectares and has around 5,000 different plants and trees from around the world in its collection. Given the uneven terrain it occupies, the Botanic gardens have various terraces for different types of plants and trees. Towards the end of the boulevard, also on the west side, you will find one of the most finest art galleries in the world – the Prado Museum.  The museum was opened in 1819  and over time two further buildings were “incorporated” into the Museum – the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salon de Reinos. The former housed Picasso’s Guernica, when it was returned from the USA and before it went to the Reina Sofía Museum.

On the opposite side of the Paseo del Prado you will find some of Madrid’s “literary” streets leading off from there – c/ de Leon, c/ Huertas, c/ Lope de Vega, c/ Cervantes. Miguel de Cervantes – author of Don Quijote – actually died in c/ de León. Lope de Vega – another famous author lived in c/ Cervantes  and other notable Spanish writers like Quevedo and Góngora also lived in this district. That is why the barrio is now called Barrio de las Letras. At night time this area becomes a hive of activity when Madrileños and tourists hit its many bars and restaurants.

At the end of this first stretch of the Paseo del Prado, you will find the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo – often called Plaza de Neptuno because of Neptune’s statue in the middle of the square. The fountain was designed by Ventura Rodríguez in 1782 and created by Juan Pascual de Mena between 1780 and 1784. It used to be situated more towards the Plaza de Cibeles and actually looked towards it as opposed to looking towards the centre of the city.

Continue reading

Christmas in Madrid 2007

Navidad_2007This looks like it’s going to be a bumper, fun-packed Christmas in Madrid. I have just taken a look at the Christmas agenda from the Madrid City Council tourist section and it looks like 2007 will be even better than 2006. I find that the build up to Christmas in Spain is much better than places like the UK, where trees, lights and other paraphernalia start appearing in November – Marks and Spencer and the like even start selling bloody Christmas puddings in October!

Even though the Christmas lights went on a week ago, many of the other activities are staggered over the Christmas period. Like last year the Plaza de Colón will be turned into a fairytale island. Nativity scenes will be found all over the city – often in churches, history museum – and the new headquarters of the Madrid City Council (in the Palacio de Cibeles) will hold the principal nativity scene, created by José Luis Mayo. If you have never seen these before, the ones in Madrid are often sights to behold.

The Plaza Mayor has the traditional Christmas stalls where you can buy trees, nativity figures and a number of annoying products – like spray snow and fluorescent lights – that kids love.

If you want to go ice skating, you can either go to Azca (Metro Nuevos Ministerios) or the Campo de Moro (Metro Príncipe Pío or Opera). I went to Azca last year with my wife and children and there was both an ice rink and mini toboggan run – both father and son loved it!

The Plaza de España will feature a craft fair from the 20th December to the th January, where around 200 stalls will be displaying mainly gifts from Madrid.

Nore information can be found on the esMadrid website.

Autumn Exhibitions in Madrid Museums

There are quite a few good exhibitions going on in Madrid at this time of year. Here is a breakdown of the temporary exhibitions from the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen Museums and the Juan March Foundation.

Albrecht DürerMuseo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza

Dürer and Cranach. Art and Humanism in Renaissance Germany

Dates: October 9th, 2007 – January 6th, 2008

Reina Sofía

This museum has a few temporary exhibitions this Autumn, including:

Gustavo Torner – September 11th, 2007 – December 16th, 2007
Paul Rego – September 26th – December 30th, 2007
Andy Goldsworthy – October 3rd, 2007 – January 21st, 2008
Jano – La doble cara de la fotografía. October 10th – December 20th, 2007

Prado Musuem

The 19th century in the Prado including:

Goya and Neo-classicism
History Painting

The end of the century

Dates:  October 31th, 2007 – April 20th, 2008

Fundación Juan March

The Abstraction of Landscape

Dates: October 5th, 2007 – 13th January, 2008