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7 things to do on a weekend break near Madrid

Spain’s capital certainly has plenty to keep you entertained. Sometimes, though, it pays to look a little further afield. Beyond Toledo and El Escorial (yes, they’re great; yes, they’re a must), there are loads of other things you can do near Madrid in a weekend. If that sounds like your kind of thing, why not plan something a little different for your next weekend break?

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Almodóvars Madrid

What can we say about Pedro Almodóvar? Luis Buñuel notwithstanding, he is the internationally best known Spanish film director. His Oscar-award-studded, iconoclastic filmography includes both masterpieces and a large number of highly interesting movies. Like any creator worth his salt – and the Manchegan is one of these – Almodóvar has a pet city that features repeatedly in his films. We are referring to Madrid. In the late seventies he left his native Calzada de Calatrava and journeyed to the capital, Madrid, intent on making his name in cinema. It ended up becoming his favourite set. He has portrayed it in many different ways, revealing both its highlights and shadows, its well-known and its hidden facets. Almodóvar has explored virtually all the streets of his adopted city with a view to heightening the emotions and feelings of his main actors. His fiction breathes life into buildings, streets, establishments, airports, train stations and a long list of other settings.

The director of Volver turned the city into a film set, using to advantage real locations recognizable  to his audience and turning some spots into must-visit centres of pilgrimage for his fans. Touring these precincts involves venturing into Almodóvar’s passionate, architectural world, by way of an alternative tourist guide to Madrid. We now retrace some of the most emblematic spots on a route which you can round off by viewing the films directed by the creator of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and jotting down new sites in your Almodovarian logbook.

Chicote Museum and La Bobia

One of the two bars that appear in Almodóvar’s films is the Chicote Museum, a chic cocktail bar with an eventful history sited on Madrid’s iconic Gran Vía. It opened in 1930 and its premises have been graced by a considerable number of contemporary stars and Hollywood classics, too. Its interior features in one of the main scenes of Broken Embraces, starring Blanca Portillo. La Bobia is another legendary meeting point in Madrid. It is hard by El Rastro flea market and was once a hotspot of La Movida (The Madrilenian scene). It was actually during those heady times that Almodóvar decided to set the opening scene of Labyrinth of Passion in La Bobia. The movie’s cast was headed by Imanol Arias and Cecilia Roth.

Cuartel del Conde Duque

A must-visit venue to see the spot where one of the Manchegan filmmaker’s most famous scenes was shot – when Carmen Maura takes a night-time shower with a hose in one of his masterpieces, Law of Desire. The scene was filmed in the doorway of the Cuartel del Conde Duque, one of Madrid’s largest and oldest palaces (it was built in 1717), which also boasts a highly valuable cultural and historical endowment. What’s more, once you’ve taken the snapshot de rigueur to relive Almodóvar’s shot, you can go inside and visit it, as it has been turned into a cultural centre featuring various temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

The M-30 Apartment Blocks

Pedro Almodóvar did not restrict himself to capturing only Madrid’s well-known city centre – he also turned his gaze to the suburbs. He did so in one of his best movies, the iconic What Have I Done to Deserve This? in which a long-suffering Carmen Maura is going through hell. She plays a woman who lives in one of the apartment blocks lining the M-30 motorway, a working-class residential area in the district of Moratalaz.

The Segovia Viaduct

One of the natural settings Almodóvar has used most often, both at the beginning of his career and even today. It appears in both Matador and the very recent I'm So Excited. In the latter, Paz Vega stars in an amusing scene shot against this backdrop. The Segovia Viaduct is located in Calle Bailén, near the Royal Palace, and is one of Madrid’s best known bridges.

Be sure to tour these Almodovarian settings – book your Vueling to Madrid here.

Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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Madrid Shopping

A good excuse for a getaway to Madrid – if you really need one – is to take advantage of the huge number of shops it boasts. There, to renew your wardrobe or give yourself a treat. This panoply of stores is large enough to cater for all, from classics, to luxury, mainstream, the latest trends and vintage. Following is the key to venturing into this fabulous world of Madrilenian shopping.

Malasaña – Hipster, Creative & Vintage

The popular Malasaña district breathes creativity and good vibes. The process of urban renewal it has seen in the last few years has turned it into a must-visit area for those seeking the latest trends. So, if you are one of those that relishes being à la mode, and you’re a sucker for everything hipster, this is your precinct. Some of the gems you are likely to come across include The Concrete Madrid, a denim tailor’s shop, and Lady Cacahuete, featuring women’s wear inspired by the 50s universe. Then there is Ioli Shoes, with handmade shoes and handbags, the studio shop Dooc, where you can pick up the odd designer object, and Le Circus, located at 18 Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, which will delight trend hunters.

Malasaña also has ample room for vintage – it couldn’t be otherwise. Notably, stores such asEl templo de Susu(Calle del Espíritu Santo, 1),La Cierva(Calle Marqués de Santa Ana, 30),Popland(Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 24) andKinda Kinks(Calle del Pez, 16), among others.

And, as old favourites have a habit of popping up again, why not pick up a pair of oldtime alpargatas at a lifelong classic establishment, the Antigua Casa Crespo?

Chueca and Fuencarral – Young, Alternative Fashion

Like Malasaña, Chueca has also grown into an area where you can measure the latest trends. It is known, above all, for being Madrid’s gay district, and for its gastronomic offerings and night-time entertainment, but it also has a large number of fashion stores. The latter are mainly to be found along the Calle Fuencarral, a crowded, bustling precinct with a plethora of stores selling apparel and footwear for the young, modern set. Labels such as Diesel, Puma, Adidas and Hoss abound here. The more expensive and exclusive shops are located on the Calles Almirante and Prim.

The Salamanca District – Luxury, Elegance & Big Labels

Serrano, José Ortega y Gasset and Claudio Coello are the streets you should head for if you’re looking for luxury. Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Gucci, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Miu Miu and Manolo Blahnik are some of the designer labels you will come across. Another place where you can indulge in elegance and splendour is ABC Serrano. This shopping centre, housed in a palace which still has its Neo-Mudéjar facade intact, features a carefully curated selection of domestic and international labels. If you visit it in summer, be sure to go up to the magnificent roof terrace where you can delight in their culinary offerings while taking in the view.

Huertas – Young Designers

In addition to the book shops and art galleries, this area is worth visiting for the classic establishments reconditioned as stores with wares crafted by upcoming designers. One such shop is L’Atelier / Óptica, an optician’s midway between a workshop and an art gallery featuring a wonderful selection of spectacles. This is also true of La Intrusa, on the Calle León, which carries the production of Spanish firms like Con2tijeras, Berenbaum, Roberto Navazo and Desietecorazones.

Sol and Preciados, the Mainstream Core

Sol, Preciados, Del Carmen and Arenal make up Madrid’s hardcore commercial hub. The area concentrates the large chain stores such as Zara, H&M, El Corte Inglés, FNAC and Mango, which have taken over the lion’s share of these streets. But, there is still room for some gems from yesteryear, as in the Casa de Diego, where you can buy fans, umbrellas and accessories, and relive a bygone age for a while.

El Rastro – the Sanctuary of Second-Hand Things

The best way to round off a weekend getaway to Madrid is to head for the Ribera de Curtidores and surrounding area – in the Latin quarter – and visit El Rastro. This street market, which opens on Sundays, sells all kinds of second-hand items, including garments and old books, and features a sizeable number of bargains. And, while you’re in the area, we recommend you drop in on Vintage 4P, on Calle Bastero, and La Recova, in the Plaza General Vara del Rey, both stocking furniture, lamps and other objects from the second half of the 20th century.

Bring out your stylish streak and join the shopping trend in Madrid! Check out our flights here.

 

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Daniel Ruiz

 

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Going for a beer in Madrid

In Madrid, drinking beer is more than just a tradition, it’s almost an obligation.

When the working day is done, people go out for a beer. If it’s been a while since you saw someone, you meet them for a beer. Any excuse for a lager!

The beer is always perfectly poured and accompanied by some form of tapas. In Madrid there’s no other way of doing things.

Here we recommend one possible bar crawl if you fancy a few beers in Madrid but any bar in the Spanish capital is a good place to cañear (a verb that the Spanish have invented from the noun caña, meaning a small beer, and that is used to refer to the action of going out for a few beers).

We begin our bar crawl in the city centre, with three bars that come highly recommended: El Tigre,Cervantes and Kruger on Calle Princesa.

El Tigre is known for being a typical Spanish bar and for always being full. It specialises in cider and your drinks always come with tapas.

Kruger, on the other hand, is not like other Spanish bars. It is, in fact, a small slice of Germany in the centre of Madrid. Located near the Plaza España, this bar serves a wide variety of beers, ham hocks, salads and sausages.

Cervantes bar is close to the Parliament buildings, between the Sevilla and Antón Martín metro stations. Like all good bars, it’s always full and you’re guaranteed a perfectly poured beer and accompanying tapas.

Since there is also life beyond the city centre, let us also recommend the perfect place to go for a beer in other parts of Madrid.

Cazorla: This bar in the Salamanca district boasts quality, good service and generous tapas.

Fass: At this German restaurant you can purchase German products and, of course, enjoy a great beer.

Beer’s Corner: This bar is quite a distance from the city centre (in Ciudad Lineal) but it has one feature that many will find quite quirky. Whilst having a few beers here you can play on the Playstation with your friends, since there is one at every table.

Now do you feel like visiting Madrid? Check out our flights here !

 

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