Tuesday, April 15, 2014


MADRID—Some things not to miss

1. The Prado Museum. Two of my favorite paintings in the world are here--Rogier Van der Weyden's 'Descent from the Cross', which I have used in my art workshops as an example of a perfectly composed painting, and Zurburan's 'Cordero de Dios', a little painting of a lamb that is the perfect blend of abstraction and realism. The latter is not always on display, but the other paintings by Zurburan are also great. Don't miss them! If you go to the Prado late in the day it's usually less crowded.

2. The Botanical Garden--right next to the Prado.

3. Casa Labra. Tetuan, 12, just off the Puerta del Sol, this old-time place is famous for its fino (sherry) and tajadas (fried chunks of bacalao). The perfect snack. Opens late afternoon--eat standing up in the street. Line up to pay first, then get food and drink at counter.

4. Casa Patas. This is one of the best places in Madrid to see performance in flamenco dance/music. Reservations a must.

5. Tapas Bars. There are hundreds, many along Calle Huertas, now a pedestrian street. Two of our favorites in the area are the old-fashioned La Venecia (Echegaray 7, get sherry--fino--and order the mojama, sort of like beef jerkey, but made from tuna). The other is La Fabrica, which has smoked fish that will erase Zabar's from your mind--esp. the bacalao ahumado (Calle Jesus #2).

6. Sorolla Museum. Impressionist style painter--beautiful work shown in his house, which is fabulous.

7. Corte Inglés, just off Puerta del Sol. The food court in the basement is a great place to pick up gifts.

8. Dama de Elche This is the most famous piece in the Archeology Museum. It is part of the early Iberian art collection, which is truly fascinating. You'll see things here that look like nothing else in art history.

9. Casa Mingo – (Paseo de la Florida 34) homey old place for Asturian roast chicken and cider, near Iglesia de San Antonio de la Florida, famous for its murals by Goya

10. Torrijas, sort of a Spanish version of French toast, but sweeter. It's a seasonal thing around Easter. You'll find it on menus or in pastry shops.

11. Ritz Hotel. Poke around, use the bathrooms--grand, old world elegance.MADRID—Some things not to miss

Where to stay:

Near metro Anton Martin:
Hostal Castillo, St. Teresa 9, (looked closed)
NH Hotel, St. Engracia
Ibis Hotel, Malasaña
Hotel near airport: Best Western Hotel Villa de Barajas,
Culinary bookstore: www.apuntolibreria.com
c/Pelayo 60, Chueca

More food recommendations:

Our favorite: La Castela 
Calle del Doctor Castelo, 22 28009 Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain
Phone :+34915735590
Timings: Mon-Sat 2 pm - 4 pm Mon-Fri 9 pm - 12 am Sun - closed
La Giralda (Hartzenbusch, 15, near metro Bilbao) – for fried fish & seafood, sherry
Casa Manolo (Jovellanos 7, near Teatro de la Zarzuela) for the best croquetas

Madrid Restaurantes
Casa Begnigna (calle Benigna Soto, 9, Metro Concha Espina) tel. 91 413 3356 – Amazing rice dishes, in an out of the way area but worth it – make reservstion
El Ventorillo Murciana – c/ Tres peces, 20, metro Anton Martin (Lavapies) tel. 91 528 8309– great rice dishes, make a reservation.

El Matadero - 19th/20th century slaughterhouse of Madrid converted into a contemporary art and culture space

La Tabacalera - Old tobacco factory split into two parts: one half is a state-run museum with fantastic exhibits, the other is an 'autogestion' that has been occupied (initially illegally, but subsequently the occupants were given rights by the government) and is a multicultural community center.

La Casa Encendida - Cultural space run by the Caixa Madrid - has lots of concerts and exhibits.

Caixa Forum Barcelona - Great old factory converted into massive contemporary art space

Bobo, restaurant, Amaniel 23, near Paloma, Conde Duque

The Mercado San Miguel (right near the Plaza Mayor) is a beautiful old market building that has been hipsterized and has stands offering all kinds of alluring food treats:  http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/en/

Friday, January 3, 2014


It was strangely difficult to find reliable information about hotels in/near the Shanghai airport,
but once there I discovered a hotel right in the middle of the two terminals--there's a connecting bridge, so you can walk there directly.


As well as full-night rates, they offer hourly rates between 9am and 6pm.

BEWARE: Once you clear customs and enter the terminal lobby you will be agressively greeted by a
few men at a counter selling hotels--avoid them and go look for the above mentioned hotel by yourself.
Unfortunately this is what happened to me--I didn't discover the better option till the next day.