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All Abroad Spain

From expat news to my travel diaries, join me in my experience of the beauties that Spain has to offer.

In and Around Madrid
14 October 2010

All roads lead to Madrid’s La Plaza de Puerta del Sol, ground zero, the physical and emotional heart of the city. Shining out from this busy plaza are roads – Calle Mayor, Calle del Arenal, Calle de Preciados, Calle de la Montera and Calle de Alcalá – that stretch into the city, as well as a host of metro trains and bus routes. South of the Puerta del Sol is the fascinating and oldest part of the city, with Plaza Mayor and Los Austrias to the southwest and the busy streets of the Huertas barrio to the southeast. Also to the south La Latina and Lavapiés is situated. North of the plaza is a modern shopping district and, beyond that, the east–west thoroughfare Gran Vía and the bohemian barrio Chueca as well as Malasaña. To the west is the stately Palacio Real, while to the east lies the city’s lungs, El Retiro park, and Salamanca.

Madrid is surrounded by a series of ring roads, making maps of the city look something like a hypnotic image. Though often extremely crowded with tourists and locals, these highways are the best (and sometimes only) way to get out of the city.

There’s no need to be paranoid about yourself and belongings while in Madrid, but you should be on your guard. Tourists are generally the prey of choice as is anywhere in the world tourists thrive, and thieves operating on the metro and buses will be quick to whisk away that easily accessible wallet, small backpack or briefcase left sitting in the aisle. You need to be especially careful in the most heavily touristy parts of Madrid, notably Plaza Mayor and surrounding streets, Plaza de Santa Ana, the Puerta del Sol and around the Prado. You should also be sure to take particular care in the mass of bodies in El Rastro flea market as the sights and people tend to leave you awestruck. Don’t expect the police to jump to your rescue if by chance you fall victim to a pick pocket. It’s part of their daily diet in Madrid. They will, however, be certain to take your statement. You will need this for insurance purposes as well as to have new passports and other documents issued.

All Abroad Spain



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My Top Spanish Festivals
12 October 2010

On many occasions while travelling through Spain I have stumbled accidently on the various Fiestas that are celebrated. So as my first of many posts, and also short and sweet first post, herewith my top festivals in Spain that I urge everyone to experience at least once.

  • La Tomatina - Battle of the Tomatoes based in Bunol Valencia. This is most likely one of the most famous festivals that one can find, but not many people know when it is. I stumbled upon by luck celebrating my birthday in Spain. The festival takes place every year on the last Wednesday of August. Just a reminder, it only last 2 hours (the battle at least) from 11am - 1pm
  • Las Hogueras de San Juan - As a man, I am instinctly drawn towards fire, maybe a BBQ or camp fire if I see one I would like to be around it. I was pleasntly surprised at the Las Hogueras de San Juan festival, with bonfires everywhere you look, which signals 5 days of parades and 5 nights of fireworks. It is based in Alicante on June 20th and has an amazing atmosphere of smoke, fire and lively people.

 

Well, when I have more time, I will be adding to the list but so far these are two great festivals for anyone to take part of.

Saludos



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