The online Plaza Mayor for those who love Spain, and those who blog about it.

Tag Archives: madrid


March 31, 2013 by Luann Edwards

My first trip to Madrid was as a newlywed in 2003. We emerged from Madrid Barajas airport, startled by the bright late-May sun, our vision still cloudy from the overnight flight. A driver met us in the arrivals area, and ushered us to a small white hatch-back car. We sped into the city, with Michael Jackson as our soundtrack as we emerged from the underground exit into the capital.


First ones to arrive (at 9 p.m.) at a restaurant in Madrid 2003

First ones to arrive (at 9 p.m.) at a restaurant in Madrid 2003

That first time, Madrid was overwhelming. I stumbled through the check in at the Occidental Miguel Angel (“Tenemos una reservación,” I said. The clerk responded, “Your last name?”) and went straight to bed, shutting out the bright Castillian sun with the heavy velvet curtains. We remained three days, including a day in Toledo – another day trip! – and a planned city tour that our jet lag helped us sleep through. Even still, Madrid remained an unwrapped gift until I returned three years later.


A day trip to Toledo, 2013

A day trip to Toledo, 2013


In 2006, while studying at Suffolk University for a master’s degree, I joined a mixed group of students (grad students and undergrads) for a two-week summer session at its Madrid campus. (Here’s a blog from a student studying at Suffolk Madrid now that I found courtesy of Google blogsearch.)  Even though it was a short time, sharing an apartment and establishing a routine made me feel like I had actually lived there. I always wanted to be a Madrileña, and for fifteen days, I could be. My first lesson: The best way to learn Madrid was through its Metro system – the cleanest underground transportation I had ever encountered.


When we arrived at our apartment, we were armed with the first set of directions: “Walk two blocks to the Cuzco station. Take the blue line to Nuevos Ministerios, and transfer to the orange line. Exit at the Universidad stop. Walk up the hill and the university will be on your right.” None of us were prepared for the masses of people who also needed to transfer at Nuevos Ministerios during the morning commute, and that it would take us nearly thirty minutes for what was seven stops on the Metro. The roommates at Calle de la Viña – our address in Madrid – went together that first time; we needed moral support and only a few of us had a strong working knowledge of the language. Little by little, though, we grew more comfortable with the system, often using it as a guide to explain where something was.


On a walk through Madrid

On a walk through Madrid

hp photosmart 720


Want to go shopping at El Corte Ingles? Get off at Sol. If you walked a little bit, you could even find a Ben and Jerry’s near the stop. Visiting the Royal Palace? Take the metro to Opera and it’s a short – and beautiful – walk. Or head in another direction to the Plaza Mayor. Great meals and nightlife – head to Chueca. My favorite memory of using the Metro was the morning we went to visit Madrid’s El Rastro, the famed Madrid flea market.


We took the green line to La Latina, with what seemed like a million other Madrileñas. The station was subterranean, with hundreds and hundreds of steps to climb to get to the surface. There was an escalator, too, but after a few tense minutes, I was unable to fight my way in and join the masses on it. As I watched two of my roommates get on the escalator from my place at the side, I gave in and started to climb the stairs. They were endless but I persevered. As I neared the top, I heard a gravely voice call out in approval, “la fuerta!” At least, I think it was approval. After all, for that moment I was one of them: a Madrileña.


El Rastro, 2006

El Rastro, 2006


Question for the community: Have you ever traveled a city primarily through its Metro/Underground/Subway system? Did you feel like you got to know the city better for having used public transportation?



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Posted in Transportation |

When she plays piano in the dark

March 24, 2013 by Luann Edwards
Segovia Pianist

Segovia Pianist

It was a beautiful, dry July night in Segovia. We were writers, all women, all travelers, walking back to our hotel as slowly as possible, trying to breathe in everything about our last night in the city. It was late – almost 23:00 – but the sun hadn’t fully set. And as we rounded the corner, a woman – a girl, really – placed herself in front of the keyboard and began to play. (2011)

In some of the other blogs I’ve located online about Segovia, many of them describe day trips to Segovia. I supposed that, if I were a tourist, I would probably squeeze in a day in Segovia on my way to Madrid. In fact, I did exactly that in 2010 – I spent ten hours on a tour bus, rushing through the sights of Segovia and Avila before going back to the capital for a business meeting.

But now that I’ve spend more than a day in Segovia, it seems like a great sin to rush this beautiful city into one day. Do that, and it will never have a chance to creep into your soul. And travelers, you must go to this great walled city and absorb every tiny piece of it.

In 2011, I spent ten days with 12 travel writers in a workshop hosted by Brown University. We “lived” in the hotel Los Linajes, which was built into the hillside, just inside of the walled city. I tried to write about the experience on my blog, but  I barely scratched the surface – and two years have already passed. The tiny pieces of the Segovia puzzle took many days to come together. If I’d only had a day, I would have never noticed:


  •  i.e. universidad, a converted convent, with a nativity scene carved at the top. Ferdinand and Isabella could be seen kneeling beside the infant Jesus. (They were born several hundred years too late, but the monarchs wanted to be a part of it anyway.)
  • How the sun never quite felt like it set; the sky was always a deep, dark navy with a glow at its edge from twilight until dawn.
  • The most delicious cake, traditional ponche con natilla, that is from Segovia. I have never forgotten the crunchy-sugar top.
  • The impromptu wedding in the plaza mayor; the bride was dressed like a pinup model, and she arrived on the back of a Vespa. So did their 30 guests.



  • A question for the community: When have you ever taken a day trip to a town that crept into your mind, and you wish you’d stayed for longer?


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Posted in Cities in Spain |

Welcome to the Plaza Mayor

March 21, 2013 by Luann Edwards

Segovia’s Aqueduct


For those who love Spain and everything about it, welcome to iblogspain:  the bloggers’ Plaza Mayor.

The heart of any city or town, the plaza mayor is the place to meet, exchange ideas, talk, and get to know your your new friends. Think of iblogspain as a communidad of Iberophiles you can join from anywhere in the world.


What is the iblogspain community?

The community manager of iblogspain will try to find everything about Spain that has been shared in the blogosphere and  feature it here. That way, you can indulge everything in one place.

Each week, you’ll find something new to see, read, taste and explore about Spain on a particular topic. Please stay a while; read the blogs, study the stories behind the photos, and talk about all of it with people who share your passion about paellatorredores, cochinillo, and all of the millions of little things that make España a part of the soul.

 As a member of the community, we hope you will share as much as you can find. Show us your own work! Tell us about your hopes and dreams. Provide your tips about travel in Spain.  (Just please don’t try to sell us anything – this is a commerce-free blog community.)

There is so much available work about Spain that it will take forever to exhaust all of the resources that we could access on the Web and share. We hope that you will continue to be inspired to write and photograph and read about Spain that this community will live on indefinitely.

If nothing else, the members of the community at iblogspain.com will have succeeded if one person is inspired to travel to Spain because of something shared on this site.


 Who is a member of the community?

You! You are a member of this community and you are afforded all of the rights that comes with membership. If you arrived at iblogspain, it’s because you are an Iberophile and you have something in common with all of us here. There aren’t a lot of responsibilities for members of the community. You can be as active as you’d like – reading, writing, commenting, sharing, visiting, bookmarking. The only requirement is that your contribution has to somehow relate to Spain.

You can be a traveler; a blogger; someone who reads blogs; an ex-pat who lives in Spain or once has; a photographer; a journalist. You can be anyone. As long as you find something on this site that resonates with you – something that speaks to your soul – you are welcome.


What is an Iberophile?

England has Anglophiles; people who love England. France have Francophiles – those who love France. There are Wikipedia articles about these terms – one word that says so much more. With a country as amazing as Spain, why isn’t there a word to describe those of us who are enamored with the Castillian (or Catalán, or Basque …) way of life? How could we convey this in one word that says it all? On the iblogspain site, we’re all Iberophiles. An Iberophile spends as much time at a tapas bar in Barcelona as she would visiting the Sagrada Familia. An Iberophile knows the difference between a paella and a fideua; he knows that Spanish is a culture but castellano is a language. An Iberophile may not like the bullfight, but she understands why it’s woven into the fabric of the culture. Finally, an Iberophile would spend a day in Madrid instead of a week in Paris.


How do I contribute?

Each week, we’ll add a post about a topic, and we’ll ask a related question of the community. If you’re inspired to share something related to that topic, please add it to the comments section of the site. If you have a blog that you’d like featured, place the link in the comments section and we’ll add it to the post. The goal of iblogspain.com is to provide you with a community – please make yourself at home.



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Posted in Administrative |