CHRISTMAS IN MADRID

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AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE OVERLOOKING MADRID

(Madrid) — Perched high on a hill in Parque del Oeste is a true Egyptian temple given to Spain as the Aswan High Damn was about to swallow it up. Now it sits in a perfect park overlooking the hills of Madrid and the Royal Palace. Go at night when it and the Palace are both lit up. Also, there’s a chairlift contraption that takes you further into the parque, which is 2-3 times the size of Madrid itself and is Right There.

A perfect hotel, right where you want to be

(MADRID) — Extremely nice people at the front desk. Amazingly helpful. The room I had was enormous. Great views. Very quiet. Nice bathrooms. Perfect location, easy to get everywhere walking, Gran Via metro stop just a block away. And the San Anton Market is just a couple of blocks away.  Hotel de las Letras website. Room Tip: Splurge for the top floor suite #607. Two floors, two terraces. You won’t want to leave.  

A RIVER MAKEOVER IN THE HEART OF MADRID

(Madrid) — I’d read about this redevelopment project a while ago and always wanted to check it out. Long abandoned and gone to seed, several years ago the massive redevelopment transformed the whole river. Over the last several years, it has really come together. What used to be sludgy is now sparkling, with walkways and bridges intertwined along the river, with kids playing, people jogging and chatting. A great place to get away from the crowds, even in the winter. Go at sunset so you can watch the lights of the city come on and the moon rise. Start on the

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MADRID’S CENTRAL PARK

(Madrid) — Take time out of eating, drinking and shopping to take a long stroll or do some eating or drinking in Madrid’s Parque del Retiro.  Beautifully laid out, with different sections that beckon you to keep going on to the next site, there’s lots to see, summer or winter.  (These shots are from winter, just imagine what summer looks like.)  

IT’S LIKE A LIFE-SIZE TOY TRAIN SET

(Madrid) — On the western side of Madrid, just below the royal palace is a typical looking European train station, but inside it’s not.  The Estacion de Principe Pio was remodeled to incorporate all the metro and commuter rail stations, stacked up on top of each other like a toy train set, with trains criss-crossing above and below you in all different directions.  Some of the tracks seem dormant, then all of a sudden a train comes shooting through.  Definitely recommend killing a while here just taking it all in.  Really is cool.  

THIS IS THE BEST MARTINI I’VE EVER HAD

(MADRID) — Dry Cosmopolitan Bar, the cocktail bar from Javier de las Muelas.  I’d read about it when I was in Barcelona last Christmas, put spaced making it there. But this year in Madrid, I saw they’d opened an outpost there and heard it was the bomb for cocktails. It was eerie walking in, almost like “The Shining”, but instead of Lloyd, it was just me and Ricardo. Nobody else in the place. I heard it was packed, always, but maybe it was the holidays, lack of tourists or Spain’s economy. In any case, I had Ricardo all to myself

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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE

            MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL — Just like the Boqueria in Barcelona, the Mercado de San Miguel is the perfect place to go back to several times to load up on the best tapas, wine and beer. You just walk from stall to stall, looking for what’s interesting, step up to the bar and eat.  Perfect if you’re with a group that can’t decide, everyone can find what they want and meet up at the common eating area. About as easy as it gets, but it can be jammed with people. Just be assertive. LA

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