A Travellerspoint blog

How I miss my lovely city

a long overdue update

I haven't been writing here for a long while, mostly because I left Madrid behind a while ago, and moved to Bratislava. After not being able to adapt to the culture and other stuff, I have moved back to the Netherlands, sometimes feeling homesick for Madrid, promising myself I will return one day. At least short visits to see my friends and have a bit of sunshine happen frequently.

And until I return, I still have the pictures:

Madrid, Metrostation Plaza de España

Madrid, Metrostation Plaza de España

Madrid, Retiro Park

Madrid, Retiro Park



Posted by Herr Bert 04:38 Archived in Spain Tagged madrid

Football in Madrid

watching a match in Madrid.

overcast 4 °C

Football is huge in Spain, which is not that strange if you are the reigning European and World Champion (oooouch, that still hurts). In Madrid this is not different. If you followed the Euro League last season, you will also know that Madrid based, Atlectico won this cup in May, while the final of the Champions League was staged at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of Real Madrid. Of course it was the hope of Real to claim the Cup theirs in their own stadium, but dream didn't come true. Besides These two teams there is also a third club in Madrid, which Rayo Vallecano, from the barrio of Vallecas. Some will also consider Getafe a club from Madrid, but that will be disputed by most the Madrileños. For visitors it can however be a good alternative, if they can't get tickets for Real or Atletico, and still want to see a game in the Primero Division.



How to get tickets?
Getting tickets is not as hard as it seems. The easiest way to get tickets is to keep a good eye on the website of Servicaixa. On this website you will find an area for each team they are selling tickets for. At the moment those are Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Espanyol and Valencia.

Real Madrid
On http://www.realmadrid.com/en/tickets you will find the game for which you can buy tickets. Please note that ticketsales in Spain starts rather late. (sometimes just over a week before the game.) Click on the link, next to the game you want to see (Iniciar Compra), the first question will be the number of tickets you want to have, and after that you will see all the zones of the stadium. The lowest priced tickets will be located high up in the stadium, and the closer you get to the field, the more expensive the tickets will be. Another important factor for the price is the opponent. The better the team they play against the higher the price. If you have selected your zone, and the seat, you will need to fill the information that is needed to make the buy. (in other words, you creditcard number.)

When you finish the buy, you will receive an email, in which is stated what you have bought, and how you can collect your real tickets. WIth the email alone you will not be able to enter the stadium. In the email it also stated that you can print your tickets are a cash machine of ServiCaixe. Although this is true for other tickets they sell (e.g. concerts), you can not print your tickets at one of the millions of cash machines in Madrid. The easiest way is to get to the Stadium on time and print your ticket from one of the ticket machines on the Northside of the Bernabeu stadium. The only thing you need to do, is the wipe you creditcard through the machine (of course the credit, with which you made the buy.) and it will instantly begin to print your tickets. As this goes quickly, there are normally no long lines.

Real Madrid - AC Milan

Real Madrid - AC Milan

The stadium can be reached easiest by Metro. You can get out at the stop Santiago Bernabeu on line 10. If you need to come from the south, and you are using line 6 (Circular), it is sometimes better to get out at Nuevos Ministerios, and just walk the last 10 minutes. As there are a lot of people making their way to the stadium, the metro is overloaded for some time before and after the matches. If you come by train, also head to Nuevos Ministerios, and walk the last bit.

If you wonder what all the Madrileños are carrying in the little plastic bags, when they enter the stadium, know that it is allowed to take drinks and food into the stadium. You can take 500 ml plastic bottles, and what most Madrileños will also take with them is a boccadilla, wrapped in tinfoil, this is their snack for during the break.

Atletico de Madrid
For matches of Atletico de Madrid also go to: Servicaixa.com. The way to buy your ticket is the same as written above. Tickets for games of Atletico are in general a bit cheaper and therefore more affordable for many people. As they are playing near to the center, many people from Madrid have more support for Atletico. Just like most people from Liverpool, support Everton.

To get to the stadium, you can take the Metro and head to the stop called Piramides (on the green line, number 5). From there just follow the crowd. You can also get out at Marquez de Vadillo, and cross the bridge. From the bridge you have a nice view over the stadium. You will notice that the busy M-30 goes right under one of the stands.

Madrid - Estadio Vincente Calderon (Atletico Madrid)

Madrid - Estadio Vincente Calderon (Atletico Madrid)

Rayo Vallecano
For tickets of games of Rayo Vallecano, I would just head to the stadium and buy tickets at the counter. Next season it might be a bit more difficult than that, as they are not ranked 2nd in the Segunda Division. After having missed out a chance to get back into the Primera division 2 years ago, they are again one of the possible team to play Primera Division next season. Of course the season is still long, and a lot can happen until it over.

Rayo Vallecano fans are in general people on the left side of the political arena. This become clear in their songs and their manners. The hardcore fans of Real and Atletico are rather more on the right. As you might know Spain is still pretty much devided in these two camps.

For all you football lovers, I hope this helps you to get to see a game in Madrid.

Enjoy the match if you go and see one.

Posted by Herr Bert 10:42 Archived in Spain Tagged football madrid real tickets atletico rayo vallecano


a must do daytrip from Madrid

sunny 28 °C

There are a couple of towns to go to from Madrid. I have written previously about Alcalá de Henares and Aranjuez, but maybe the most travelled to town is Toledo, and with reason. The former capital of Spain is known as the city of the three religions, and has a long list of monuments to see.


The trip to Toledo is easy. The train takes you in 30 minutes from the Atocha train station to the station at Toledo. If you already choose your time to return to Madrid, you can save a few Euros by booking a return ticket. Besides the train you can also choose to go there by bus. From the busstation at Mendez Alvaro there are several busses that make the route in 1 hour.


Once in Toledo the first thing to do is to climb the hill on which the old city lies. The most beautiful way is to cross the Puente de Alcántara. If you arrive by train and walk to the historic centre take the road to the left instead of crossing the newer big bridge. If you want to take it easier you can use one of the escalators. There is one on the north side of the town, but on my last visit I also spotted one on the north-eastern part.

For the sights chech the Travel Guide of Toledo

Posted by Herr Bert 04:21 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites

Snow in Madrid

walking in a winterwonderland

0 °C

Yes, it can snow in Madrid.

These pictures are from 2 weeks ago, but it snowed again 2 nights again. I also included some of last year, when it also snowed.


in 2009, it looked like this:


Posted by Herr Bert 14:16 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad


overcast 3 °C

The Metro in Madrid is one of the biggest metro networks in the world, and it is still expanding. The map that I still have from my first visit in 2006, is a bit outdated to say the least. Which is unfortunately also something you can say about the price of a 10 trip ticket, which is the most used one.


In 2006 this would cost you 6,15 Euros, but since the first of January the price has risen to 9,00 Euros. With the price of a single ticket at 1,00 euro the amount you save is not that big anymore. For visitors it might be better to use single tickets, as usualy at the end of the trip you always have a half used ticket left. If you go far away from the center, you might end up at the network of the Metro Norte, Sur or Este. For these networks you usualy need to change trains, but you also need to buy an extra ticket when you leave the station. (1 euro extra).

Normaly you can buy your tickets are the machines that you will find at every station. If you only have big bills (20 or 50 euros), you can better buy your ticket at a desk, so that you don't get a lot of coins back, but note that not every station (or every entrance/exit) has someone at the desk all the time. If you do buy a 10 trip ticket, note that you can sometimes see the number of trips (viajes) left, when you put your card in the machine to open the doors. If you can't you can simply count the numbers of stamps on the back of your card.

The Network

The maps that you can grap in the metro are schematic, which means they are not a very good help to find you way in the city, or even to give an indication if stations are close together. A good example are lines 7 and 5, which split up after stop Pueblo Nuevo, but in reality are still pretty close together for another 4-5 stops. On the map you will also see some figures at some of the station. This is an indication of the time you need when you need to switch lines.

The most used and useful lines for visitors are:

the number 8 line (pink): This is the airport line. If you are coming in by plane, you will have to use this line, if you want to go to the center by metro. The stops are the airport are at Terminal 4, and Terminal 2. To get to the Metrostation at the airport, you need to pay a surplus of 1 euro, and the price of 1 euro for the normal ticket. For most people it is best to head to the end of this line at Nuevos Ministerios. If you are heading for the area around Ventas and Diego de Leon, you can switch lines at Mar de Christal to line 4 (brown). If you stay east of the Retiro Park (around Ibiza), you can switch at Colombia to line 6 (purple).

the number 10 line (dark blue), is useful of you arrive at Nuevos Ministerios and you need to go to the city center. There are a number of stations where you can get out, or switch to other lines. At Alonso Martinez, you can switch to number 5 (green), to go to Chueca, Gran Via, Callao and Opera (all close to the city center.). At Tribunal you can switch to the number 1 line (light blue), which goes to Gran Via, Sol, Tirso de Molina, and the trainstation at Atocha. If you are heading for Callao, Sol or Lavapies, you can also switch to the number 3 line at Plaza de España. On the number 10 line, you will also find the metrostop Santiago Bernabeu, which is outside of the Stadium of Real Madrid and metrostop Lago is in the Casa de Campo, the big park and a nice place to relax in summer.

the number 1 line (light blue) runs from north to south through the center, connecting at Sol to the lines 2 and 3. This line also connects the trainstations of Chamartin in the north, with Atocha in the south. You can also use this lie, with a switch at Pacifico, (to the number 6, grey) to arrive a the big busstation at Mendez Alvaro.

The number 2 line is useful if you want to visit the bullfighting arena at Ventas (the stop is in front of the arena) or go shopping in the Salamanca district. There is also a stop at the north entrance of the Retiro Park (called Retiro) and at the Plaza de Cibeles (Banco de España)

The other lines will not be used very often by visitors.


Do's and Don'ts

The metro can be a very crowded place, and this is also the hunting ground for many thiefs. Be careful not to show off expensive stuff, and than put them in your bag. If you don't want to look like a tourist, memorize the way the metro goes. At the entrance you will find big plates with all the stations, one for each directions. Make sure you don't have to study these boards, as that is a clear sign, you are not familiar with the metro, and therefor most likely a tourist or a visitor from out of town.

In the morning between 7.30 and 9.30 the metro is a very crowded place, as many Madrileños are getting to their jobs. In summer the trains are airconditioned, but you might find a wagon in which the airco is not functioning. Be smart and change wagons, at one of the stops.

Posted by Herr Bert 22:26 Archived in Spain Tagged transportation

Madrid by Bicycle

Mad or not?

23 °C

If I tell people that I use my bike to get around in Madrid, and to get to and from work on a regular bases, they look at me like I am mad. And to be honest, sometimes I feel that I am when I am riding my bike. But it is not as dangerous as it sounds.

Although Madrid is not the safest city to bike around in, the city does have some bicyle lanes, but most of these just start somewhere, and also end on some streetcorner, leaving you to wonder how to continue. Therefore a lot of time bikers use the pavements, and as long as you are careful nobody will complain. In a lot of place the pavements are big enough, but on the smaller ones you need to be careful.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Madrid is hilly, and some climbs can be extremely steep. If you would go from Embajadores to Sol, you might want to think again if you want to make the climb through Lavapiés or if you would rather go around it. The climb from Atocha to the statue of the fallen angel, is also pretty steep, but doable.

There is one very large bicycle route, the Anillo Verde, that is almost complete (they are still working near the Olympic Stadium) and that is a route that circles the city for 64 kilometres, which makes it a nice way to spend a day, and see another side of the city. In the Casa de Campo there are also a couple of routes you can take. The local government is buidling more and more bike lanes in the city itself, but it will take a while before Madrid can be called a bicycle friendly city. There is a special map for bikers, which can be collected at the tourist office at Plaza Major, these maps are free of charge.

On Public Transport

You can take a bicylce with you on the Metro. On weekdays this is restricted from 10.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., and 21.00 p.m., until the end of service, but in the weekend and holidays there are no restrictions. If you want to bring your bike with you, you need to use the first or last wagon of the metro. On the cercanias you can take your bike with you whenever you want, unless there is no place. Busline 33 (from Principe Pio to Casa de Campo), is adapted so that also bikes can be taken onboard.

Posted by Herr Bert 14:05 Archived in Spain Tagged bicycle

Just some pictures -2-

other pictures from Aranjuez

sunny 33 °C

On my trip to Aranjuez I made more pictures than the ones I put into the piece of Aranjuez. So here are a couple of those:


Posted by Herr Bert 15:08 Archived in Spain Tagged photography

Alcalá de Henares

zum Oktoberfest !!! (and the city)

sunny 31 °C

A friend of mine suggested last week to go the Oktoberfest in Alcalá. And my first reaction was just like yours when you read Oktoberfest a few seconds ago. An Oktoberfest in Spain sounds weird, so a must-see for me. As I still hadn't seen the place it was good to also have the possibility to see the town, and than go to have a party. We decided to meet up at 13.00 at the station in Alcalá. To reach Alcalá you can take several trains (cercanias lines C-2 and C-7) and from Atocha it only takes 35 minutes to get there.


The girlfriend of my friend studied in Alcalá years ago. So she was the guide for the day. Showing us the beautiful Plaza de Cervantas, before heading to the famous University of Alcalá. One of the oldest in the country (although not strictly as the present one was founded in 1977, but the predecessor which moved to Madrid, was founded in 1496. The building is beautiful, and we could only have a short look inside, as the building was closed for a wedding.


After that we walked to other parts of the center, seeing some beautiful squares, houses and the church (were again a wedding was taking place.) On the roofs of the town, there were a lot of empty nest, which in a few months time will be housed by hundreds of storks. It seems the place is a bit famous for that as well. But you see the same in many towns in Spain.

One of the other things Alcalá is famous for are the huge tapas. Normally you have to do with a slice of bread with a slice of Chorizo, or something like that, but in Alcalá they are serving Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and complete Bocadillas as Tapas. So with two drinks, we also had out lunch. From the bar we walked through the Calle Major, which is special because of the arches of both sides of the street, and also because of the birthplace of Cervantas (the writer of Don Quichote.) On the street we also discovered a beautiful courtyard of an old hospital.


After a walk which almost took us back to the station, and beyond to the Plaza de Toros, we arrived at the scene of the Oktoberfest. It was held inside the bullfighting ring, making it already a pretty cross-over between Germany and Spain. There were not too many people, but we were arrive early I guess around 16.30, which is way too early for Spanish people. After a look at the menu, my friends went for the 1 litre jar of beer, and as a non-beer drinker I decided on the whisky-coke. But as you also get hungry, and the menu promised German sausages it was not long before we made the trip to the barbecue, for some genuine Thüringer weiss-wurst. a trip we would repeat once more, and declinded later in the evening, as it was too crowded by than.


The one thing I had feared most was the music. Let's put it this way: German folk music is not my cup of tea. But I was lucky, as the bands turned out to be 'normal rock (and roll) bands. At 22.30 we called it a day, as we needed to take the last train to get home.

Oktoberfest in Alcalá: two thumbs up.

Posted by Herr Bert 14:35 Archived in Spain Tagged food


one of the many daytrips from Madrid

sunny 32 °C

There are many daytrips from Madrid that one can do. And yes in time I will mention most of them here. Most people will choose for Toledo as the one and only daytrip from Madrid, and it needs to be said that if you only have time for one trip this is the obvious choice. The second choice normally is Segovia, another good choice, and lovely town.

Yesterday (or much longer ago, depending on when you read this) I went to Aranjuez, a town 45 minutes by train away from the Atocha Station. It lies south on the river Tagus. Which in Aranjuez is not much more that a big stream. The main sight in Aranjuez is the Royal Castle.


I made the same trip a couple of years ago on a visit to Madrid, but back than I went on a monday, meaning that the Palace is closed. And one thing that annoyed me ever since is, that I found a way to delete most of my pictures from that trip. So all the more reason to head back to the town. A colleague of mine tipped my on friday, that the entrance to the palace would free of charge this sunday, as it was a local holiday.

The day started with missing the train at Atocha. I saw it move out of the station when I arrived. I blamed myself as I forgot some stuff at home, making me go back up from the lobby, losing just enough time to miss the train. After half an hour a new chance, and this time I was on my way to Aranjuez.


I remembered the huge parks near to the palace very well, as I spend a lot of time there 3 years ago. But I was curious about seeing the inside of the palace. In my view a lot of the palaces in Europe look the same from the inside, so I never bothered much to go inside. But as it was for free, why not? I also decided on the audio tour this time, for the palace and the gardens (3,50 spend but in a good way.) The lady at the counter explained my in her best Spanish how to use the guide (what can go wrong with pushing numbers an pushing play, one might wonder), and what was the best way to get around the gardens and where everything was. I didn't understand a word of it and didn't bother really, as it seemed that following the numbers would be a fairly obvious way to go. And that turned out to be true.

But first the palace, after the normal rooms, that every every palace needs to have the first room to make me say wow! was the Arabian Room. Which was decorated as was it a piece of the Alhambra in Granada. The Audioguide told me it was done by the architect who was in charge of the restauration of the Alhambra, on request of the King. Another very nice room was the porcelain room, and room decorated with what seems to be thousands of porcelain figures, all in a chinese theme. The rest of the Palace has the normal rooms you seen in every palace, (King's study, Queen's bedchamber etc etc. ) with the predictable pieces of art. To out you also need to pass the museum of how live was at the Palace. A nice touch was the collection of weddingdresses used by Princesses in recent weddings.


At around 15.30 it was time to go outside, into the heat and into the parks. As the audioguide suggested to do the Jardin de la Isla first, that's what I did. It has a number of very nice fountains, and it kept me busy for a while. (making pictures.) As this garden is not too huge, I could head over to the Parterre in front of the south end of the palace, and after that to the Jardin del Principe, which are a lot bigger. For me a tree is a tree, but it seems that there is a nice collection of trees in this park. For me they were all green, and grew towards the sky. In other words, biology was never my favourite subject in school. This park is more streched out, while there are still some things to see.

The biggest attraction is the Casa de Labrador, which ever when it can only be visited with a reservation is a nice little palace to see. The little Chinese pond is also very nice.


After seeing the gardens it was time for the walk back to the palace, to hand in my audioguide. It took nearly half an hour to get back to the Palace. After that I decided to make a little walk into the nearby parts of the town, and stay for a while at a square not far from the palace, which was surrounded with interesting buildings. At the end of the square is the Royal Chappel, where I had a look inside, and was a bit less royal than I had imagined. At least without the many decorations you often see.


I completed the round around the square, and decided to go back to the palace to enjoy being outside, and to do some people watching. At 19.00 I headed to the trainstation, where the train took me back to Madrid.

All in all Aranjuez can be a nice daytrip, but because of the walking also one that can make you a bit tired.

If you want to know more about the Palace and the gardens (like dates, costs etc, check this article on the TP wikiguide: Aranjuez Cultural Landscape.

Posted by Herr Bert 13:19 Archived in Spain Tagged tourist_sites


in Cercedilla

32 °C

The hottest part of the summer is over. It's September and that means perfect weather to go to the mountains. At the moment my favourite spot to go to is Cercedilla. From Madrid Atocha you can buy a cheap ticket to go to Cercedilla by Cercanias (the local Commuter trains.) For around 8 euros you have a return ticket. Trains go on a regular bases to this town that is quite popular. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Madrid-Atocha to arrive to Cercedilla.

There is one slight catch to going to Cercedilla, and that is that you have to walk a bit to get to the starting points of the routes leading in the the Fuenfria Valley. Halfway the town, and the entrance of the Valley, there is a good information kiosk, where you can get a map, with the routes in the area. There are a couple of routes, all signposted with different colours on the trees along the paths.


The most well-known route is the white route, which is the old Roman Road, which leads to Segovia. If you know Italian roads, just imagine them in 2000 years, and that is indeed the state the Roman Road is in. There are only a couple of pieces where the stones are still more or less on their spot, but on most spots it is just a collection of bigger and smaller stones going up the mountain for a distance of 4 kilometres. The start is steep, the middle is pretty ok, and the last kilometres is really steep again. To walk comfortable it's not the best route to take, but with some imagination you can imagine the old Romans heading from Toledo (Madrid was not founded yet in those days) and Segovia.


Another beautiful but also busy route takes you to the Miradores. From where you have a great view towards the town, and over the region surrounding it. For me hiking is a great way to get away from the city, and to get some fresh air. For travellers who like to deviate from the beaten track it can be a good daytrip, provided that you have some good shoes with you. (which I think that you need to have as a traveller anyhow.) The only thing for me is, that my right knee always start to give me pains, when going downhill. I guess that all these years of playing volleyball where not that good after all.



Posted by Herr Bert 15:11 Archived in Spain Tagged foot

(Entries 1 - 10 of 19) Page [1] 2 » Next