Monthly Archives: December 2009

El Rastro

El Rastro is said to be the largest out door market in Europe. It opens from 8am – 3pm on a Sunday and is located between the La Latina and Tirso de Molina. It is another of my must see, must visit places in Madrid. You can get absolutely anything here, clothes, hand made jewelery, trinkets, art, furniture, comic, hardware, games, toys, music that will forever remind you of your time in Madrid and fill you will warm thoughts. It is a mixture of new, crafty things and a flea market. You can get anything that your heart desires.

Some quick tips:
1) Watch out for woodworm. From what I have been told. Wood worm is something that effects a lot of antique wood products and if you get it in your home, you are in a little bit of trouble. However I am sure that they get rid of it before they sell a product.

2) Keep your hand on your valuables, this is a pick pockets favourite way to spend the day. All those new, excited tourists with lost of cash on them.

In the 17th an 18th century El Rastro was a huge meat market which is where it gets its name from. El Rastro means Blood Stain and refers to the blood stains of the animals sold there. However it is now safe to say that none of that kind of thing happens there these days. Just streets and street filled with stalls and people.

All this shopping is bound to make you hungry and what an amazing place to be when you are hungry. The tradition when visiting El Rastro is to go for caracoles (snails). I suggest visiting the bar aptly named caracoles located near the top of the market very close by to La Latina station, sitting at the bar and ordering a portion. They are in a ever so slightly spicy in a kinda tomato sauce and are soo tasty if a little scary looking but you will just have to get over that.

Another Fantastic place to eat is at El Capricho Extremeno. This is located at the very bottom of the market I wish I could tell you the street. I will find out and edit my blog later. However you could just look for the huge queue and wait in it, it is bound to be for this tasty shop. They sell bread with just about any Spanish tapas topping you could ever wish for. For just 2€ each!! It is well worth the wait, the food is sensational and there is a real family ambiance about the place that makes you feel like you are eating fresh traditional Spanish home made food. (Which you are). I recommend the pulpo (Octipus) and the Tortilla (Spanish omelet) These are my favourite ones, but they have so much to chose from. If you visit you have to be prepared for a wait and to be assertive otherwise you will end up being there for a while.Try to get there early or you might miss out on some of the food. It is so popular that they run out of the best stuff fast.

And if you are still hungry after all this food or need to rest your feet. The traditional thing to do after El Rastro is finished, is to sit at a bar in La Latina and have a Cana with some Tapas. A very good way to spend a day. 🙂

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What to do on a cold Saturday Afternoon in Madrid?

On Saturday Morning I woke up late as I didn’t have class. The flat was cold as the heating is broken (just my luck). So I sat on the sofa wrapped up in a duvet, talking with some of my dear friends online and contemplating on what I should do with the rest of my day.

I decided on a day of culture. Madrid is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon (or in-fact a whole day) wondering around art galleries plus they have times when they are free to enter!! YES FREE, my favourite price! So this is what I did.

First I went to the Reina Sofia which is FREE all day on a Saturday. I like the museum because it houses one of the most amazing paintings I have ever seen in real life. The Guernica by Picasso. Now I have seen this piece of art on post cards, in books, as prints in peoples homes and never really appreciated it as much as when I saw it in real life. It is so amazing and nothing quite prepares you for the size and the greatness of this piece. I once read in a comic a fictional quote made up by the writer of the comic it went like this. (yes I admit it, I am a geek and I read comics)

Un aleman le dice a Picasso, delante del Guernica:

Usted Hizo esto?
-No, fue usted.

After reading this very clever and thought provoking quote and seeing the Guernica it just made me think about what the war must have been like to be in the middle of, and how even now, we carry on fighting and destroying peoples lives. It’s a really upsetting thought and I wish we could learn from the past. The painting brings out so much emotion, plus, every time you look at it, you discover something new. If you have never seen it, please, please, please take time out to visit it. No matter how many times I have see it, it never fails to amaze me.

Anyway I never really spend all day in this museum, even though you could and if you like modern art I am sure you will. This museum reminds me of the Tate Modern in London. Its a mixture of amazing pieces and pieces I don’t really understand, but thats not to say they aren’t great. This museum has also got a lovely garden which in summer you can go hang out in with friends, a see through lift that never fails to leave my heart in my mouth and the building its self is an amazing piece of arcitecture which if you stand at the top of you can see the view of Madrid for miles.

The next stop was the Prado. Which between the hours of 6-7:30pm on the days Thursday to Saturday, it is FREEEE! You might have to fight in a queue for a while, but it soon moves and is very worth it!! This Museum is one of my favourites. It is beautifully laid out. The exhibitions are truly breath taking and it is a fantastic place for people watching and sketching. The paintings and statues are very fine art and very old but are amazing. I just discovered a love for Goya. I never really looked properly at his work and it’s another artist you don’t really appreciate it until you see their work in real life. His use of colour is just spectacular.

Anyway, this blog post ended up longer than I had expected, sorry for that. I will leave you with some phones of my day. Hope I have inspired you to go check out some amazing pieces of art. It would be a great shame to visit Madrid and not check these out.

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To the future

Good afternoon, yes it is me and I am back! I have been neglecting my blog for a while now and I feel that its time to get back to it. Let me fill you all in on what has been happening in my life so far.

Well I have recently split up from my boyfriend of 4 years whom I moved to Madrid with. Now this was very hard, very hard indeed! I think it was a mixture between not having a permanent job, being away from my friends and family and trying to adjust to a new environment. But those were just on the surface and I guess it was just not meant to be.

So I was now left on my own in Madrid, not many friends, no family, cant speak the lingo very well… I decided I was going home. I checked flights, I arranged pick ups from the airport. I was set on going home. I was distraught and angry and I just wanted to be at home. But I didn’t book that flight, don’t ask me why, I just didn’t. I carried on with work and just with life in general. I began to think past the sadness which made me think about my own life and what I wanted. I did my classes with my students that are just perfect and enjoy learning, I walked past the shops, looked at the beautiful buildings and the awesome culture and watched people from afar…Why was I going home again?

What would I do at home? I would have to wait until September to start a teaching job in England. Yes my amazing friends and family are out there, but they can also come visit me here. Its cold there, and yes it is cold here too but not as cold as home. I decided I must stay!! I felt a relief that I had finally taken charge of my life and made decisions for myself. I feel empowered now that I now know where I am going in life and what I want to do, and I am happy with my decision to stay and enjoy this marvelous city. 🙂

I must end this blog post with some thank you’s. I would just like to say a huge thank you to my ex boyfriend who gave me the opportunity to be here and have these awesome experiences and I want to thank his wonderful family for doing everything they have done to help me out (and its a lot). They are truly fantastic people and I am happy that I had the chance to have them in my life.

To the future, and what great things it will bring for me and all of you. 🙂

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