With the World Cup coming up, if you live in Madrid, you may well be interested in the best bars in town to watch sports. I have done a straw poll with some friends, mostly male, who are keen sportsmen (sometimes of the armchair and beer variety) and the answers are always the same: Irish pubs
Here is the GuiriGuide pick of the best three in Madrid:
The best pub for watching sports in is the James Joyce on Calle de Alcala, with the added bonus that they do a good sunday roast (a great British tradition). There are a number of screens in this pub, plenty of room and always a good atmosphere.
Also popular for sports fans is O’Connells, on calle Espoz y Mina near Sol. Although an Irish bar, it is very international and caters well for US and European sports alike. It has a separate non smoking section too.
Bofinn on Calle de Velázquez is also good and has a pretty good menu del dia (lunch menu). The only downside of this pub is that is can get very smokey.
Since living in Madrid for seven months, I have had the pleasure to live through three fashion seasons. The big difference that I have noticed in Madrid vs other parts of Spain is that the madrillenos or locals dress more conservatively.
For men in the workplace, its the basic dark suit and tie. The only thing that changes from winter to spring, is the color of the corbata or tie. I noticed recently that this Spring most men opt for a salmon colored shirt with a solid satin baby pink tie (or vice versa) or a lavender shirt and solid colored tie instead of the dull white dress shirt and dark tie that is so common here in the winter. Most of the brightly colored ties didn’t appear until after Easter, though. Also, even if its 80 F or 30C outside, it is still customary to see men in a suit coat and tie.
For women, the trends go with the seasons. Boots that are ankle high and knee high are very popular in greys, black, and browns and usually worn September-April (even if its hot outside) Dark colors for fall and winter are very popular, but a colorful scarf or bufanda can be worn. In the spring and summer the skirts get shorter and the material becomes more pastel or floral prints and everyone stores their boots and starts wearing espadilles. The key thing to remember here again, is that Madrid dresses very conservatively so many women here won’t even think about wearing shorts or dresses without leggings or hosiery until June. I noticed a local madrillena waiting at the light last week in a cute short sleeve knit dress with sandals , and even though it was 30C, she still wore thick nude clothed hosiery. In the clubs at night, we’ve even seen young senoritas recently still in heavy tights or leggings as well.
Another little tidbit to remember is that athletic wear and swimwear should be worn in the appropriate places. It is acceptable to wear futbol jerseys to a game, when playing, or cheering for your favorite team at a bar, otherwise you don’t see people on the metro commuting to work in them. The same thing applies for swimwear, normally worn only at the pool or occasionally you will see young madrillenas in them as they soak up the sun in Parque Retiro.
The fashion in Madrid can be very festive and colorful, just make sure you don’t over do it, and if all else fails you can always consult The Satorialist. (Madrid is featured in Nov 2009 post) Good luck and happy shopping!
That’s right, they originated from the Pyrenees and are Catalan by birth. I bet that was a fact all you beach-clad ladies didn’t know. I mean who knew the incredibly worn-down and probably not very expensive shoes, probably on your feet right now as the temperatures warm up, had such as history to them. Espadrilles (which is actually a French word but derives from the Catalan word for shoes, espardenya) have been worn by both men and women since the 14th century. Wow, fashion really is cyclical.
I discovered an amazing Espadrille store here in Madrid that has a little history of its own. Antigua Casa Crespo has been in business since 1863 in the Malasaña neighborhood. The store is small, quite old and stacked with rows and rows of Espadrilles in every color and style you can imagine – for both men and women. The Queen herself has come by for a visit.
On my first visit I immediately came home with a pair and have subsequently returned for a bunch more (I am taking orders now for those outside Madrid). The owners of the store are very friendly. The man is working on his English so perhaps you’d like to visit for a language exchange if anything.
When I moved to Madrid, I joined a smart gym called the Metropolitan (which I love) but after a few visits, I realized that I really needed new gym clothes and whilst my tracksuit and trainers had lasted me more than 5 years, maybe it was time that they were replaced. And then I would feel better about exercising too – it’s a win win situation
A friend told me about a big place called ‘Desportivo’ which he had seen near me. I popped down there but found not a sports shop, but a sports gambling shop. I searched online using keywords and found Nike and Reebok shops on Fuencarrel. When I found them, I found fashion sports clothes, not sports clothes that could be used in the gym.
As I have said before , you can buy virtually anything you need at El Corte Ingles but the prices are inflated and I hate paying over the odds so I only shop there for speciality items.
I have to confess that I gave up and bought new gym clothes one weekend when I was back in the UK. Being stubborn, I was deteremined to find the answer to this riddle: there are gyms and people look good so where do they buy their clothes?
Living in Madrid, we were excited to realize we were close to the Spanish wine region of Rioja. We decided to go over Easter weekend since my husband found a great rate for a hotel online in the heart of wine region. Just over three hours drive outside of Madrid is a little pueblo called Laguardia. We arrived there late afternoon, the Saturday before Easter, and we checked into our hotel only to learn that a lot of the wineries close from 2-5pm for siesta, and/or you have to call ahead to some of the bodegas to make a reservation for a tasting. Since we would have to wait another three hours until some of the tasting rooms opened again, I decided to drag my husband to the spa in the hotel.
This spa is one of the nicest I’ve been to. They specialize in treatments with local olive oils and wines of the region. We first chose the 30 min float in the warm therapy pool with soothing music and lights. We then had a 30 min couples massage, which was nice since our muscles were warmed up from the pool. Afterwards, we spent an hour in their large therapy pool, complete with skylights, two jacuzzis, four therapy showers, and a chilled pool. They also had a wet and dry sauna to choose from. We were much more relaxed than we’d been in weeks.
The hotel arranged for a tour and tasting at one of the family wineries, just a 10 minute walk from the hotel. We arrived at Carlos San Pedro Perrez de Vinaspre and found that we were the only two on the tour. Carlos’ son led us down into the caves below the shop which were once connect my tunnels to other family caves and used to transport food and supplies during times of war. Then, in the late 1800′s they realized that their mountain protected valley was perfect for producing wines. They then closed their cellar caves off in order to prevent others from stealing their wine. We got to smell the large original fermentation tanks made of clay and mortar, that they still use today. Then we had a barrel tasting and compared it with a glass of their Crianza and their Reserve. After living in Napa and seeing many wineries, this was one of the most interesting tours for us. The father and son were proud to share their story and their good wine, and understandably so since they were awarded gold in 2008 in the International Wine Challenge with their Vinasperi Seleccion Limitada.
We went around the corner to a tapas bar that Carlos the winemaker had recommended. Bar Velar was filled with locals watching the futbol game. We went to an area in the back where we feasted on a lamb stew and jamon. The glass of crianza paired well with the lamb. Opened back in 1940, they offer over 80 different pintxos. I also love the fact that even their house wine was a very good wine. We went a couple of doors down to another recommendation, Bar Hiruko, which was a more modern style tapas and wine bar. We each had another glass of wine from Laguardia before calling it a night.
The next day, before heading back to Madrid, we drove to the next village down the road, Elciego. We stopped at the world famous vineyard Marque de Riscal, for a tour. They are known not only for their crianzas, but for their award winning hotel designed by Nobel peace prize winning architect, Frank O. Gehry. Gehry’s masterpiece was definitely the focal point of the tour, and really the only way to see it up close. (unless you’re willing to pay to stay in a five star hotel) At the end of the one hour tour they reward you with one of their whites and reserve red as well.
The Rioja region is one of hidden secrets in the wine world, but is gaining notoriety quickly. Many of these winery don’t ship outside of Spain, nor within Spain, so you have to go and savor them in person at the wineries.