Thursday, April 23, 2009

Around Madrid

Spain is such a hot, exiting country; no wonder its capital is such a magnificent city. Full of passion, great food and many recently-renewed superb museums, Madrid is a city everyone should visit.

One can start a great tour on the west side of the city’s historical center at Palacio Real ( ), which is huge, one of the largest (if not the biggest) royal residence in the world. For me it is equally impressive inside and out. Its exterior is stunning and inside the show continues with its three thousands rooms, rich collections of tapestry, porcelain and the world's only complete Stradivarius string quintet. If that weren’t enough the Palacio carries works from many artists such as Caravaggio, El Greco and Velasquez, among many others.

Continue strolling to Plaza Mayor and then to Puerta del Sol and you will be in the beating heart of the town. By keep going east, you will end up on Passeo del Prado, where, on and around, you will find some of the world’s greatest master pieces. On this end of Madrid’s historical center are housed: the famous Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia ( ), and my personal darling, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza ( Besides this three “celebrity- museums” there are still some great venues, such as Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas ( and beautiful green areas as the city’s botanic garden and Parque del Buen Retiro which leads to the charming neighborhoods of Salamanca and Retiro.

Another great place to take a walk, have coffee or a cocktail and admire some mind blowing architecture is Gran Via, one of the Spanish Capital’s most famous avenues.
On the middle of Gran Via there is a classical-looking building that houses the hip and modern Hotel de Las Letras ( Get a room with a terrace and have a drink at the popular and busy bar. Just across the street one will find Chicote, a classic 1930’s art deco bar, with a very hype crowd. Great names such as Sinatra and Hemingway used to hang out there. Right behind Chicote, on the other side of the block (at Reina16) is established Bar Cock, where Luv and I and a couple of my cousins, B. and R., had the best cocktails and the best time. The funny note is that Cock had no door to the street, its entrance used to be by a secret underground path from Chicote. Why? Cock was a brothel! And, since the only way in was through Chicote’s kitchen no man would ever be caught entering this “forbidden spot”. The gentlemen would, naively, go out for drinks with fellows and, well, you know the rest…

Hope you enjoy the Capital of Spain! Boa Viagem!