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Tips about Barcelona and Madrid by Women for Women

BEWARE OF THIEVES IN MADRID -- writes Marval in Paris -- My purse was grabbed on a Sunday afternoon in a Madrid park with crowds of families around... when I returned home, I found the same had happened to MANY friends of mine!! Do not carry/wear valuables in Spain! There are plain-clothed police everywhere but even that does not deter the thieves.

 

IN MADRID HIDE YOUR VALUABLES IN YOUR CLOTHES! -- Smart, cool travel safety gear! Thousands of travelers are pickpocketed or simply lose their passport and money every day around the world: it ruins their travels, costs a lot and is emotionally draining too. The Clever Travel Companion has invented super smart, and comfy, pick pocket and loss proof travel gear that zips up and hides passports, money & credit cards! Simply slip on their tees, tanks or underwear and hide your valuables in the hidden pockets. No pickpocket will ever know where your stuff is hidden, keeping you safe and relaxed!

 

MADRID BY CITY TOUR BUS -- writes Petra in London, Canada -- I visited Madrid in 2012. As I had less than two days to make the most of the large city, I took a guided bus tour and was able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and ambiance of this historic capital. The tour bus had various stops at which passengers could get off to stroll and enjoy the area by foot. Then one could hop onto another bus to carry on the tour. The tour buses can be booked and paid for at the many Plazas (Mayor, Villa, Oriente). It's a great and affordable way to see as much of the city in a short amount of time. Also make use of the Metro (subway) system in Madrid. It is quite easy to navigate, especially for us country (rural) folks.

 

RECOMMENDED HOSTAL IN MADRID -- writes Lynn in Brisbane, Australia -- You must try Hostal Santillan. We had two nights at this hostel, which is in the most beautiful city right in the heart of Madrid. The rooms are top rate standard with lovely ensuited bathrooms. The owners were fabulous, there was an elevator, tea and coffee machine and lots of assistance. I would and I do highly recommend this lovely hostel. You will not find a better location or better value in the heart of Madrid.

 

TAPAS IN MADRID -- writes Louise in St. Sauveur, Canada -- A very good place to eat "tapas" is the Mercado San Miguel close to Paza Mayor. You have never seen so many and they also offer wine or beer to accompany. Everybody in town goes there after work. Very popular and delicious. Enjoy!

 

JEWISH HISTORY IN MADRID AND BARCELONA -- writes Dori in Palm Springs, USA -- I've travelled all these cities alone and have always enjoyed myself and felt perfectly safe. The Spanish are the most warm and wonderful people you will ever encounter. I recommend taking the Hop On and Off bus in every city the first day. Go around all their routes before you begin to get off so you can plan the whole time you will be there. On the second round you can begin your hopping on and off as long as you have the stamina to do that. Afterwards you can go directly to the sites you’ve already chosen to visit in depth. For those interested in Jewish history the Spanish have preserved more synagogues than any other country even though in 1492 all Jews were ordered to leave the country or convert. Visit places where Maimonides lived and prayed. Every city has special maps of these sites to guide you. It's an amazing adventure I recommend to everyone.

 

DON'T MISS BARCELONA AND MADRID -- writes Linda from Comox, Canada -- Every Journeywoman needs to go to Barcelona and Madrid. Visiting Barcelona is like living in a Dr. Seuss book! Gaudi loved the beauty of organized randomness -curves, recesses and more curves. Be sure to visit Montjuic at night. The fountain, set to music will astound you, and Parc Guell will set a permanent smile upon your lovely faces. Don't miss the top of Sagrada Familia (take the elevator), and wonder at the city that is Barcelona. Las Ramblas is quite the adventure, but keep your wallet etc. close. I haven't even mentioned the beach! And Madrid - ah, Madrid. When asked to describe Madrid, all that I can come up with is "She's like a magnificent lady, always dressed for the ball". This is a very walkable city. Stay in the Eixemple area. Like Rome, the fountains are amazing. Don't miss Madrid!

 

STREET CULTURE IN MADRID -- writes Brandy in Madrid, Spain -- While our city is known for our wonderful museums (Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssien) a lot of our street culture often goes unnoticed. The walls of the city hold many keys to understanding the pulse of our country and capital. A new project called the Madrid Street Art Tour is a guided journey through the city streets where you can experience first hand the voice of the people. The tour agents explain the graffiti (and translate it) as well as what movements are behind the expressions. Though I have been living in Madrid for over three years, I learn something new every time I take a tour, and at 5 euro for a half day, you really can't go wrong. If your readers are looking to uncover a little more of the city than most visitors, this is by far my most recommended option. The other option for getting into the delicious history of Madrid is the Madrid Food Tour. Through our meats, cheeses, preserves and (of course!) wine, you are able to enjoy a rich and unforgettable history of Madrid. Where do tapas come from? What do most Spaniards eat? There is no denying food to be an integral part of travel, and there's no better way to align yourself with the local people than by fueling your body with jamon!

 

AFTER SPENDING A MONTH BACKPACKING IN SPAIN HERE ARE MY TIPS -- writes Elisabeth in Seattle, USA --

  • To save money on the metro system in Barcelona and Madrid-purchase a ten use pass rather than the unlimited tourist passes. You actually come out ahead even if you have to buy a second 10-pass ticket during your stay. Barcelona's cost about 10 euros for 10 trips and Madrid's was 12.20 euros for 10 trips.
  • The bus systems between towns are consistent but can be confusing since there are so many different companies. My Spanish friends recommended looking at the website of my small town destination and seeing which bus companies connected to the town. Sometimes you need to use a major hub as your destination and break the trip into two parts. For example-I had to take ALSA from Granada to Algeciras (about 25 euros) then a local Campo bus from Algeciras to Tarifa (2.35 euros). That specific Campo bus left every day about 10-20 minutes after the ALSA bus arrived to create a seamless trip.
  • Madrid - Every Sunday morning until 2pm there is a great market for clothing, jewelry, etc called La Rambla (near the Tirso de Molina metro stop). follow it down the streets (it has a Y shape and if you continue along the vendors it will lead you to the less touristy flea-market/antique/discounted clothing area of the market.
  • Madrid Museums - The Reina Sophia is free each day from 7-9. The Prado is free from 6-8 each day (these museums also have other free times/days)
  • The beauty salon chain called, Marco-Aldany is known in Spain for having great prices on their waxing services. A few of my Spanish friends swore by them. Although I never went their prices are a great deal compared to American prices.
  •  

TAPAS BAR IN MADRID -- writes Daphnee in Berlin, Germany -- My tip this month goes to a little tapas bar with a bistro flair I've found in my last trip to Madrid: Taberna del Chato. It is in downtown area, in one of the narrow streets of Bairrio de las Letras, easily accessible by foot from Puerta del Sol. Attentive service (handsome waiter too!), great sangría and the most (especially if you have a Latino background, like me) unique Spanish tapas. The menu gladly challenges everyone's taste even in the well-known combinations. They also serve raciones and a la carte dishes, if you feel too hungry. Everything is reasonably priced and made to order. Depending on where you sit you can see the cooks in action. I never get tired of recommending this to my friends. P.S. They have menus in English, and the cute waiter speaks English too, (for those ladies that have not ventured into the language yet.) After finishing the meal, you can drop by Torero, the flamenco dance hall right across the street from the restaurant and enjoy a show + a glass of wine for 12,90 euros. Great deal!

 

Bonus!BONUS TIP -- BARCELONA

Budget Advice

I would not recommend reserving tickets ahead of time for Gaudi's Palau Guell, Casa Pedrera or Casa Milo. We went to all three and although there were lines, they were very short. And the Parc Guell, of course, is free...so if you want to see something of Gaudi's work but are on a tight budget, definitely go see Parc Guell, it's full of very characteristic Gaudi touches.
Submitted by Katherine, Tuscon, USA

 

BONUS TIP -- SEVILLE

Check out the Mushrooms

Bonus!In Seville, we only had two days so of course we concentrated our first day on the cathedral of Seville and the Alcazar Palace (both of which are terrific). But on the second day, on the recommendation of a local, we went to see what they call the "Mushrooms of Incarnacion" ("las setas de Incarnacion", although its formal name is "Metropol Parasol") because it just sounded so weird. Turns out this is a magical wooden structure that does, indeed, look a lot like a bunch of mushrooms (if mushrooms were three stories high), built in the central, old part of the city, that has a walkway around the top from which you get some terrific views of the surrounding neighborhoods, the cathedral, the Santiago Calatrava bridge across the Guadalquivir, etc. And the structure itself is terrific. Not only that, in the subfloor level there is a small but very nice museum of the remains of Roman and Moorish ruins, so in one visit you can combine some of the oldest and newest architecture in the city.
Submitted by Katherine, Tuscon, USA

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For more tips about Barcelona, click here.

 


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