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MADRID



MADRID

Madrid is the capital of Spain and located on the flat central plateau.

A vibrant city

The city is always peppered with a variety of events and festivities: the capital is noisy, vibrant and packed with life.

City in the sky

It's perched 650 metres above sea level and it's creator than any other European capital.


Madrilenos

These are people who are inhabitants of Madrid, who are essentially transient. Born in some other corner of Spain they had every intention of returning to it after making their name of their fortune in the big city.

Home ground: the best place to start is near the city flea market, the Rastro.

The upper crust: Jeronimos the area between the Paseo del Prado and Calle Alfonso. Other fashionable areas are El Patio on the Highway to La Coruna.

Poor south: This are industrial zones in the outskirts.

Government & Economy

Madrid is the geographical, financial and political centre of the country. Parliament currently has a Socialist Majority. It's a member of the EU. The peseta is the official currency.

Heart of Spain

The area stretching east from the Plaza de Oriente opposite the Royal Palace the broad and beautiful Paseo del Prado. The delightful Plaza de Oriente, facing the Royal Palace exists thanks to Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleons brother, who has briefly ensconced on the Spanish throne.

The Opera or Theatro Real, a large building with a curious hexagonal shape, faces the Royal Palace across the Plaza. In recent years cafés have sprouted like mushrooms in the vicinity of the Teatro Royal. One which is always crowded and less than a decade old despite it's appearance of maturity, is the café de Oriente. It offers dining in 17th century cellars.

The Bank of Spain a graceful building dating from the end of the 19th century, stands on the south-west corner of the Plaza de Cibeles. Inside there is a valuable collections of paintings mostly by the Spanish Artists.

The Capital's lifeline

Today modern buildings fill the landscape and two controversial blocks, Las Torres de Kio, are under construction, designed to lean strangely away from the vertical, like Italy's Tower of Pisa.

Along the boulevard on can find the Ministry of Defence. Opposite are modern glass buildings the Ministries of Economy and Industry.

The National Library (Biblioteca National) was built in 1892 with its ornate granite facade staircase. At the back of the Library is the Archaeological Museum.

Bullfights

Bullfights are intimately linked to the history, culture arts and character of Spain. These are held in the Los Ventos Bullring, the season begins in mid-march and ends in mid-October, with bullfights scheduled for every Sunday and holiday and sometimes on Saturday evenings.

Dressing to kill. When the parade reaches the barrier or fence which separates the arena from the callejòn (the passageway before the stands), the bullfighters turn their fancy dress capes over to their mozos de espadas (swordboys), who act as all-purpose valets.

IF the matador is a top star, the mozo de espadas will have a full-time job, otherwise it is an all-day affair on Sunday only.

The matador is at the front . He is followed by teams of Banderilleros, who still assist him with the cape work and the placing of the sticks.

The proverbial moment of truth arrives, when the man and his intelligence must proclaim absolute victory over the brute force of the bull. It is indeed the most dangerous moment of the fight, for the matador - in order to kill swiftly and well, which is his principal goal - must go in directly over the horns.

If the matador has been successful, he will be awarded an ear or two and, in smaller rings, the tail,. The ear is symbolic today but two centuries ago, when the bullfighter received no fee, a good performance was rewarded with the value of the bull meat and the ear was his token for payment from the butcher.

If the bull has also turned in a brave and noble performance, it too will be applauded by the audience as it is removed from the ring, and may even granted a posthumous, triumphant turn of the arena.

Where to stay

With over 500.000 beds, Madrid has accommodation to meet every need and wallet. Hotels are classified in five categories. Hotel recidencias are also classified according to quality and services. These do not have restaurants, but often have bar and cafeteria facilities.

Hostales are more modest, and classified according to only 1-2-and 3 stars.

Pensiones or guesthouses are also useful for those on limited budgets rooms can be rented with home cooking included and there is usually a family room which is shared with the other guests.

Another possibility for longer stays to rent a furnished apartment.



The Ritz Hotel

They built it beside the Prado and a step away from the Retiro Park.

Accommodation: Visitors immediately feel the special warmth that is the hallmark of the hotel. Met by the Guest Relations Manager in the ornate lobby, guests are welcomed at reception and conducted to one of the 154 spacious , air-conditioned and individually decorated bedrooms. All rooms are world famous for their hand-woven carpets, antique furnishings, carefully chosen paintings.

Guests requiring a sitting room have a choice of 29 or one or two bedroom suites. The Royal Suite is world famous. The fifth floor is reserved for no-smoking guests.

125 Bedrooms. Prices: 49.000ptas. - 69.000ptas

29 Suites: Prices: 99.000ptas - 500.000ptas

Room Service: 24 hours

Bedroom facilities: Each bedroom is equipped with a writing desk, direct dial telephone, modem, mini-bar, colour television, receiving satellite channels, Choice of king , queen size or twin bedded rooms are available.

Bathroom facilities: Each bathroom is finished in grey marble , decorated with refined gold taps, hairdryer, luxurious designer bath products, telephone, and bathrobe.

Room service: Guests can order from Room Service at any time, day and night: A full menu of meals, snacks and beverages are offered complemented by a

comprehensive wine list. Special requests and favourite dishes can be prepared at short notice and the discreet attention of the carefully trained Room Service staff ensure that private dining at the Hotel Ritz is always of the highest standard.

Guest Services. VIP service can include flowers, special fruit baskets, chocolates, wine or champagne on arrival. A newspaper of the guest's choice, in his own language can be delivered every morning to the room. Dry cleaning Service 7 days a week.

Offers:

·       Fitness Centre: workout programme. Televisions with satellite stations and radio have been installed for coverage. The use of the fitness centre is complimentary: sauna, massage and facials can also be enjoyed for an additional charge. Other sport facilities to be arranged by the Concierge: golf, tennis, swimming pool

·       Beauty salon: with hairdresser, manicure and pedicure 10.00-18.30 from Monday to Friday 10.00-13.00 on Saturdays

·       Parking: reserved area in front of the hotel

A taste of Madrid

Visitors to the capital can enjoy dishes from all regions of Spain, from the sophisticated Basque cuisine - a typical Madrid breakfast consists of café con leche con churras, white coffee with a kind of fritter.

Churros are made from a thick batter pressed through a forcing bag and fried in a vat of boiling oil.. They are also served in bars and cafès in the morning.. One dunk fresh churros in chocolate.

Local specialities: the best known dish is Cocido madrileno, a hearty three-course meal-in-a-pot, usually served at midday; many regions have their own version, varying the ingredients. A cocido can be a meal for a rich man or a poor one.

The ingredients can be: needle-thin pasta, boiled potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnips and chickpeas,; finally the meat platter arrives beef, veal, shoulder of pork etc.

Callos a la madrilena is a spicy concoction of tripe, chorizo sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes.

Callos are an acquired taste but form an important an substantial part of an array of tappas.

Not to forget the delicious sweets like: Roscón de Reyes a ring shaped cake of sweet dough decorated with crystallised fruit, torrijos, a Spanish version of French toast: sweetish bread which is cut into thick slices, dipped in egg and mild, fried and dusted with sugar and cinnamon

Madrid is without doubt the gastronomic capital of Spain, with restaurants across the price range serving food from everywhere.

On stage

Late on a sultry August night in Madrid's Retiro Park on can sit in under the stars and listening to the haunting wail of flamenco. It's one of the professional hazards of a summer engagement in the parks picturesque Cecilio Rodriguez gardens.

This is Madrid as its best. Summer evenings offer a multitude of events besides flamenco and zarzuela, including pop and rock, dance, jazz, theatre and classical music. They're all part of the Summer in the City programme, organised for several years by the local authority and now an annual fixture of the capital's calendar, which runs from 1 July to 15 September..

The capitals stage has a lot to offer during the rest of the year too. From October to June, there is a continual programme of events from classical theatre to avant-garde music, with special seasons of opera, ballet, zarzuela, music hall and jazz.

Dance is also very popular in Madrid. Ballet is flourishing in Spain , and the capital is home to two major companies: apart from that of the Teatro de La Zarzuela, there is the Ballet Nacional de Espana. Foreign dance companies take part in the many annual arts festivals that Madrid hosts, and there are a number of smaller venues where dance, can be seen.




Besides the Summer in the city program, they include the Madrid Autumn Festival

( music, opera, ballet, dance, theatre) from September to November and the Madrid Jazz Festival in November. Artistes from several countries play at various venues to packed audiences.

The night

Eating out as ritual: Like the bullfight, a full night out in Madrid is divided into 3 ritualised acts. The first is about of alcohol-doused titbit-nibbling known as tapeo (from tapas, snacks) or chateo (from chato, a small wine glass). Other favourite before-dinner drinks are sherry, vermouth and drought beer. Since drinking wine without food is regarded almond Spaniards as a peasant habit.

Some of the best haunts are islands of entertainment in otherwise wholly residential or commercial quarters. Wonderful Latin-American music drifts from El Rincon Guaraní at Doce de Octubre, an unprepossessing bar in an unfashionable square near the Retiro Park.

In the piano bars you need to like the music, though as the drinks are pricey. "Consumición mínima 2.000 pesetas" means that is the minimum charge, even if you only order a mineral water. The minimum charge is 2000 pesetas

Stages in the night: Salas de fiesta offer variety shows, most of which can be, but do not have to be, accompanied by dinner e.g. at the Hotel Celiá Castilla. If you want a drink to a background of live music, look for the words en vivo.

Some bars attract clientele before and after dinner by specialising in a particular kind of drink. Madrid offers coctelerías and champaneriías. Whiskerías tend to be less innocent and often throw hostesses in with the (very expensive drinks).

A breath of fresh air: Also bridging acts one and three of our never-ending drama, at least during the summer months, are the vow quintessentially madrileno terrazas. These are open-air cafés arranged around a central drink-serving pavilion known as a quiosco. Most offer live or recorded music. In this way , one definition fades into another, just as the night blends into dawn and the ardent nighthawk feels that pang in the gut which only solid nutritional ballast will assuage. Time to visit a chocolatería, or one of the all-night cafeterias of the 24-hours city!

Shopping

Madrid as the capital offers the visitor the whole range of shopping possibilities found in the different regions of Spain.

The major department stores and tourist shops are to be found in the centre of Madrid between the Uerta del Sol and the Plaza Callao, and along the Gran Vía. The more select shops and international boutiques line Calle Serrano and its adjoining streets in the Salamanca area, while the most avant-garde designers have their shops in Calle Almirante.

There are also possibilities for antique shipping in Madrid: the Calle del Prado is a good hunting ground: The Madrid Rastro, the open-air flea market, operates on Saturday, Sunday and holiday mornings, and you can find anything and everything there, from valuable antiques, second-hand clothing and old books, to souvenirs, toilet articles and live canaries.

The major department-store chain is El Corte Inglés and Calle Raimundo Fernández . Stores are open from 10am - 9pm without interruption and have been opening on Sundays from noon-9pm, too. Both of these department stores frequently offer a discount to foreign shoppers so check out this possibility. Upon presentation of your passport, the usually issue a card entitling you to a 10 percent discount on almost all purchases.

Over the last five years several shopping centres have been built. Among them are: Multicentros, Galeria del Prado, Moda Shopping.

Sport in Spain

Soccer: Madrid has several soccer stadiums, the most important being the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the north of the city, home of the Real Madrid Team; and the Estadio Vicente Calderón.  These are for the moment, Madrid's two first division teams.

Basketball: This is becoming increasingly popular and games are held in the Real Madrid installations.

Car and motorcycle races

Golf

Tennis

Skiing: Vavacerrada only 48km from Madrid; it has five ski-chairs and six ski-lifts Valdesqui, 65km, it has six ski-lifts and a ski-tow

The La Pinilla resort: 113km from Madrid has one ski chair, six ski-lifts, one ski-tow and two cable cars

Bowling

Riding. e.g. Rutas a Caballo: one day or weekend excursions on horseback, with a price that includes food, board and horses

Squash

Skating: There is an ice-skating rink at Paseo de la Castellana, and roller skating

Pools: Madrid has also a large number of municipal pools

Mountain Bike and Climbing: You can take your bike on the Metro during the weekends, between 6.30-4pm. If you are planning to take your bike on a train, this is for short journeys, providing it is not during the rush hour: You will need to buy a special ticket for your bike when travelling on long distance journeys by train.










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