Holiday in Madrid
The deepest drum and bass pounds in the boisterous landmark clubs on the side streets of Gran Via well into the early morning. Subtlety has never been a strong suit for this area, nor is it known for its safety; exercise caution as Gran Via is less than ideal for late-night wandering.
H Pasapoga, Gran Via 37. M: Callao. Around the corner from PI. Callao. Gay nightlife explodes here on the weekends, especially on Saturdays. Beautiful interior, beautiful people. Cover ‚15. Open Su and Tu-Sa 6pm-dawn.
Cool, C. de Isabel la Catolica 6. M: Santo Domingo. Heavenly drag performances and the occasional underworldly goth party for a wild, mixed crowd. Mesmerizing video projections. Mix of locals and tourists yell to be heard over the latest house. Special Shangay Tea Dance for primarily gay crowd on Sundays. Mixed drinks ‚5-8. Cover varies, usually includes 1 drink. Open F-Sa midnight-late, Su 9pm-late. With flyer before 9:30pm free.
MALASANA AND CHUECA
Malasana and Chueca come to life in the early evening, especially in PI. de Chueca and PI. Dos de Mayo. By sunset, these plazas are social meccas: places to hang out, meet your friends, and get drunk. The area is ideal for bar-hopping until 2 or 3am, when it’s time to hit the clubs near Sol, Centro, and Gran Via.
El Acuarela, C. Gravina 10. M: Chueca. A welcome alternative to the club scene. Buddhas and candles surround antique furniture, inspiration for good conversation and a good buzz. Coffees and teas ‚2-6. Liqueur ‚4. Open daily 3pm-3am.
Why Not?, C. San Bartolome 7. M: Chueca. Small, downstairs bar packed almost every night of the week with a wild, mixed crowd. Open daily 10pm-6am.
El Clandestino, C. del Barquillo 34. M: Chueca. A chill 20-something crowd drinks at the bar upstairs, then heads down to the caves to nod and dance along with the DJ’s acid jazz, fusion, and funk selections. Live music most Th-Sa at 11 or 11:30pm. Open M-Sa 6:30pm-3am.
Mama Ines, C. de Hortaleza 22. M: Chueca. Chic cafebar with perfect diva lighting. Great for drinks and conversation. Good desserts, light meals, and teas. Open Su-Th 10am-2am, F-Sa 10am-3am.
In the student-filled streets off Glorieta de Bilbao, it’s easy to find a cheap drink and even easier to fmd someone to drink it with. Boisterous customers sip icy Mahou on Plaza de Olavide, Calle de Fuencarral, and Calle de Luchana.
El Carabinero, C. Cardenal Cisneros 33. Don’t worry if you can’t get a table at this festive local right away: pass the time at the bar with sangria and some tapas. Raciones ‚4.50-18. Menu ‚7.50. Open M-Sa l-5pm and 8pm-lam.
Arepas con Todo, C. Hartzenbusch 19, off C. Cardenal Cisneros from C. de Luchana. Hanging gourds and waitresses in festive dress fill this classic Colombian restaurant. A rotating menu (‚10-12), plus 60 fixed dishes (‚11-14.50). Only the live music repeats itself. For dinner, make reservations. Open daily 2pm-lam. MCV.
PJ DAYTRIPS FROM MADRID
EL ESCORIAL. The Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial was a gift from Felipe II to God, the people, and himself, commemorating his victory over the French at the battle of San Quinti’n in 1557. Near the town of San Lorenzo, El Escorial is filled with artistic treasures, two palaces, two pantheons, a church, and a magnificent library. Don’t come on Monday, when the complex and most of the town shut down. To avoid crowds, enter via the gate on C. Floridablanca, on the west side. The adjacent Museo de Arquitectura and Pintura chronicles the construction of El Escorial and includes masterpieces by Bosch, El Greco, Titian, Tintoretto, Velazquez, Zurbaran, and van Dyck. The Palacio Real, lined with 16th-century azu-lejos (tiles), includes the majestic Salon del Trono (Throne Room), Felipe II’s spartan 16th-century apartments, and the luxurious 18th-century rooms of Carlos III and Carlos IV. The macabre Panteon Real is filled with tombs of monarchs and glitters with gold-and-marble designs. (Complex 918 90 59 03. Open Apr.-Sept. Su-Tu-Sa 10am-6pm; Oct.-Mar. 10am-5pm. Last admission lhr. before closing. Monastery ‚7, students and seniors ‚3.50.) Autocares Herranz buses arrive from Madrid’s Moncloa Metro station. (50min.; every 15min. M-F 7am-l 1:30pm, Sa 9am-10pm, Su 9am-llpm; last return lhr. earlier; ‚3.)
EL VALLE DE LOS CAIDOS. In a valley of the Sierra de Guadarrama, Franco built the overpowering Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) as a memorial to those who died during the Civil War. The granite cross was meant to honor only those who died serving Dios and Espana (ie. the Fascist Nationalists). Many of those forced to build the monument died during its construction. Beneath the high altar, underneath the cross, lies the body of Franco himself. It is accessible only via El Escorial. (Mass M-Sa 11am; Su 11am, 12:30, 1, and 5:30pm. Entrance gate open Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6pm. ‚5, seniors and students ‚2.50. EU citizens free on W. Funicular to the cross ‚2.50.) An Autocares Herranz bus runs to the monument from El Escorial, C. Juan de Toledo. (20min.; Su and Tu-Sa 3:15pm, return 5:30pm; round-trip plus admission ‚7.70.)
Medieval cities and olive groves fill Castilla La Mancha, the land south and east of Madrid. Castilla y Leon’s dramatic cathedrals stand testament to its glorious history. Farther west, bordering Portugal, stark Extremadura was birthplace to hundreds of world-famous explorers.
CASTILLA LA MANCHA
Although Castilla La Mancha is one of Spain’s least-developed regions, you don’t need Don Quixote’s imagination to fall in love with this battered, windswept plateau; its austere beauty surfaces through its tumultuous history, gloomy medieval fortresses, and awesome crags.