Subject: Weekend in Madrid
Hi Ziners,

I have just spent a nice women-only weekend in Madrid. It was my mumīs birthday, and we decided to celebrate it by going to watch My fair lady in Madrid.

I think that I have written previously before about the new surge of the musical theatre in Madrid. The phantom of the opera opened a month ago, and My fair lady has been on for at least a year. The original cast is still on, headed by Jose Sacristan and Paloma San Basilio. I think that, even if you donīt speak spanish, itīs a wonderful production. You can buy the tickets either at the El Corte Ingles shops or through their web : .

Initially I had booked a hotel using Bancotel ( ), but afterwards I checked the online travel agency of the El Corte Ingles (great service, only catch is that they send you the documentation home with a messenger service, and I donīt know if it works with abroad addresses). They had a good city weekends offer, and I booked a triple room at the Tryp Washington, in the Gran Via . 110 Euros including buffet breakfast. Renovated room with plenty of space and even eau de cologne at the bathroom. And a public parking behind the hotel with a 30% discount for the hotel customers. The best thing was that the theatre was located just 2 minutes away from the hotel.

About restaurants, I donīt have a lot of recommendations. We arrived late on Friday night, but as the night was very mild and we were tired of the long drive, we went out for a little walk and had something to eat at Caņas y Tapas, a place we already knew from Burgos and Santander. The grilled green asparagus are quite good, but they were out of their star dish, Huevos estrellados (fried eggs with potatoes, simple but yummy). On Saturday we went for a late lunch at Frescco , a salad and pasta buffet place we knew from Barcelona. Itīs non-smoking, and the salads and pasta are quite tasty.

We had a long Saturday morning in Augusto Figueroa, a street in the Chueca district with quite a few outlet shoe shops. The best value for price can be found in Caligae (they have two shops, one for shoes and another for bags, and they carry mainly Farrutx, Toots, and other small spanish brands). But Rue St. Honoré or Cristal can be quite good. If you have an european 37 you can find some good bargains. They also have menīs shoes, so there is no excuse for the gentlemen to run away :)) If you walk down the street going to the Paseo de Recoletos, a part of the Castellana, and you are looking for spanish celebrities, there are a couple of restaurants : Lombok, a Thai place belonging to a TV presenter, Jesus Vazquez (mostly known because he is gay, not because he is specially good), and just in front, La Bardemcilla, belonging to the Bardem family (one of the brothers is Javier Bardem, Oscar nominated for its work in the Reinaldo Arenas biopic Before night falls).

After leaving all our bags in the hotel (and trying to find how we would manage to carry everything back to the car, we didnīt have enough hands ...), we decided to go for a walk in the old part of Madrid ( Palacio Real, Almudena cathedral, Cava Baja, Plaza Mayor and Plaza Santa Ana). It was a balmy evening, and we could walk around with short sleeves and enjoy the fine weather ...

Yesterday we woke up a bit late. The weather wasnīt so good, and we had a small detour to get to Pedraza , a small village in the Segovia province. It has a few restaurants, some shops, an old castle, an interesting square, and a fine bakery. We ate at a restaurant near the main square, but they didnīt have any roasted suckling pig left, so we had castilian soup(ham, garlic, egg and bread soup) and scrambled eggs with asparagus and black pudding.

The weather was really crazy on the drive back home. Yellow, gray and pink clouds, and the most vivid blue in the sky, all of this mixed with strong winds and the fall colours in the trees (yes, we also have a fall colouring in Spain, and I think that this year is being better than ever).

Regards, Covadonga Bilbao - Spain