A fine Madrid Weekend

by Ben Curtis

Worth checking out:

“In light of the fact that a number of people sent me this week’s New York Times Travel section’s 36 Hours: Madrid, I thought I’d share with you my own 48 hours in the city.”

Read the rest at España Profunda

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About Katie

Katie is an English teaching assistant working at a bilingual public school in the center of Madrid.
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18 Responses to A fine Madrid Weekend

  1. Matritensis says:

    oops! poor Madrid? provincial, sleepy sister to Barcelona?
    Maybe she (SARAH WILDMAN) don´t know Madrid
    Regards from Madrid

  2. DC says:

    I’ve already explained to Matritensis on his own blog how mistaken he is. “has been perceived” shows it is not what Wildman thinks, but what the perception has been. And I think she’s right – before Beckham came to Madrid, most Brits would have said the capital of Spain was Barcelona.

  3. Argos says:

    Ummm….DC, I think I have to agree with Matritensis. Wildman did a poor job in my opinion. Her article is full of stereotypes and it is inaccurate. It reinforces the stereotype of the “ignorant American” some Spanish people still have.

    A “guiri”, she has behaved like a guiri. Don’t you think the NY Post readers deserved something better, like, for instance, Katie’s latest blog entry.

    I’m a “madrileño de adopción” myself, and yes, I feel a little bit offended, to tell you the truth. I can’t help it.

  4. DC says:

    But the point Matritensis jumped upon was her use of the word “provincial”. But Ms Wildman about how it “has been perceived” – not necessarily by her and not necessarily by anyone now.

    Perhaps the rest of the article is poor, but that is not the reason Matritensis has an abeja in his capota, or at least it is not the reason he has stated in his blog.

    If Matritensis’s problem with the article extends to more than just the use of the word “provincial”, he should himself write with “un poco mas de vigor” , but it seems to me that the only part Matritensis has a problem with is a part which he has mistranslated and misrepresented in his blog.

  5. DC says:

    Also, where is the article inaccurate?

  6. DC says:

    Sorry, me again. How do you think Emily’s article is better? The biggest difference to me is that Emily appeals to the cheaper end of the market. But Ms Wildman knows the market of her NY Times readers.

    And, while this is not the place to criticise Emily’s article, recommending a chain like Cien Montaditos is hardly any better than the offerings in Wildman’s article. If you want sandwiches, you can get cheaper and better quality sandwiches than there.

    OK, three replies in a row is bad, I won’t make it a fourth, I promise.

  7. Argos says:

    DC. I understand your point of view, but don’t you think she could have said the same in a much better way?

    She could have said , ok Madrid is not the typical city for tourists, it may not be as flashy as Barcelona, it is not like Prague certainly, but it is a genuine place, a place for clever travellers, and one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, where you can have the time of your life if you know where to go and what to do.

  8. DC says:

    With all due respect, that would make it sound like any tourist/inhabitant’s viewpoint of any city in the world (if they like it, that is!). Read the reviews of http://www.tripadvisor.com to see what I mean. Wildman’s job is to say something in a way that will grab the attention of her readers and not worry about bloggers’ hurt feelings in the country she is talking about.

    She said it in a very good way, sparking a little controversy, but at the same raving about a city she loves. Madrid is not Cuenca or ever Bilbao, a city that many would miss out as they go to Barcelona, Seville and Granada. It’s not that people haven’t heard of Madrid. Her job is to appeal to just those people who have ruled out Madrid because it is seen as a little ‘provincial’.

  9. Argos says:

    Still I don’t understand her approach, DC. I guess I had to be American to understand it.

    And I don’t agree with you on Madrid being overlooked by tourists. More and more are coming each year. These days, the information is there for whoever who is interested, and sorry if I sound arrogant, but maybe Madrid is not the best destination for someone who thought the capital of Spain is Barcelona. This is a city for travellers, as I said, and I think Madrid is interested in atrating educated visitors.

  10. Argos says:

    Dc, you asked me why I think her article is inaccurate. Ok, here I go, her 1st paragraph is a true gem, you can hardly give a more missleading impression of a place in fewer words:

    “POOR Madrid (poor, why? we are more than happy, you know). Stuck in the middle of Spain (stuck???, so being in the middle of Spain is a bad thing isn’t it? I didn’t know it, I guess I will have to get depressed now)the city has long been perceived as the provincial, sleepy sister to Barcelona (by whom???, for God’s sake, by whom?? I had never heard such a thing, and Madrid can be anything but sleepy. I guess the readers of the Ny Times coming to Madrid will be disappointed to see no men sleeping in the streets with their mexican hats on, come on, come on!!, that is plain stupid, what can I say?). Even today, you can see little girls dressed exactly as their mothers were (WRONG!!! they are are dressed up, not like 40 years ago!!!), in 1940s-style dresses and matching topcoats(no comments about this, I’m just speechless, how could this girl come to this conclusion). But that is precisely Madrid’s charm” (Jesus Christ!!, really??, is this MAdrid’s charm? In my opinion it is not, the city has many others)

    Her comments on Chueca are ok, except for the “piles” of dog waste, but she doesn’t talk about the Reina Sofia Museum, which taking into account it holds Picasso’s Guernica, is a really strange thing.

    Anyway, her selection of tapas Bars is ok, altough I would choose some others, and then we come the my favourite part of the article:

    “Madrileños believe that night is the most important time of day (do we? I didn’t know it. This statetment is just ridiculous and you know it). To party like a local, head to the multistory tavern El Viajero (WRONG!!, you will find almost NO LOCALS there, most of them young men attracted by the crowds of blonde American tourists trying to party like the locals), or the Traveler (Plaza Cebada, 11; 34-91-366-9064), which draws everyone from women in their 20s in “Flashdance” off-the-shoulder sweatshirts (??????????, I’m speechless again, I wonder if this girl lives in Madrid or in Mars)to men in business suits”

    I’m tired at this point, I refuse to comment on the rest of her article.

    I don’t like her article, what can I say. That’s my humble opinion.

  11. ben says:

    If either of you want to send me in a short round up of your own perfect weekend in Madrid I’d be delighted to publish it here! Ben

  12. DC says:

    You say “more and more are coming each year” and that “these days” the info is there. So in the past they weren’t coming and the info wasn’t there? That is EXACTLY what the writer is saying!! Yes, you are right, Madrid isn’t for the people who think Barcelona is the capital, but Wildman is writing for a mainstream newspaper, not Wanderlust magazine, stirring the appetites of people on their commute into work, not people who are seriously considering a trip to Madrid.

    I thought by inaccurate you meant saying Lavapies was north of the Bernabeu or something like that. Actually, you mean she doesn’t agree with your opinion of Madrid.

    (btw, I’m British, not American, and I understand what she is doing)

    “POORMadrid (poor, why? we are more than happy, you know).

    >She’s being ironic.

    Stuck in the middle of Spain (stuck???, so being in the middle of Spain is a bad thing isn’t it?

    >Well, it’s a long way from the beach, which is where the majority of tourists want to go when they go to Spain. Not ALL, but the majority – this is why Benidorm has more hotel beds than any other city in Spain. I used to think it was just the Brits who wanted the beach, but I’ve met several Americans who spend their time in Barcelona on the beach and not in the Sagrada Familia.

    I didn’t know it, I guess I will have to get depressed now)the city has long been perceived as the provincial, sleepy sister to Barcelona (by whom???, for God’s sake, by whom?? I had never heard such a thing, and Madrid can be anything but sleepy.

    >Ask the average Brit the capital of Spain before Beckham went to Madrid and they would have probably said Barcelona. Many people DO think Barcelona=cosmopolitan, Seville=bullfighting, tapas and flamenco and Madrid=industrial capital with a famous football team. When I told friends in England I was moving to Spain, they almost all said “oh, to see Beckham?”. Surprisingly, no one mentioned the wonderful museums or tapas bars.

    I guess the readers of the Ny Times coming to Madrid will be disappointed to see no men sleeping in the streets with their mexican hats on, come on, come on!!, that is plain stupid, what can I say?). Even today, you can see little girls dressed exactly as their mothers were (WRONG!!! they are are dressed up, not like 40 years ago!!!), in 1940s-style dresses and matching topcoats(no comments about this, I’m just speechless, how could this girl come to this conclusion). But that is precisely Madrid’s charm” (Jesus Christ!!, really??, is this MAdrid’s charm? In my opinion it is not, the city has many others)

    >I guess she’s talking about Madrileño school uniforms, which do have quaint little hats and bows which you don’t see a lot these days. I don’t think she actually means that it is topcoats per se that she loves so much, but maybe its olde worlde cinemas on Gran Via, the tiled walls, bulls’ heads and vermut de grife of the tapas bars, etc. She’s speaking figuratively. And anyway, even if she does mean she loves topcoats, its hardly “inaccurate”, it happssn to be what she likes!

    Her comments on Chueca are ok, except for the “piles” of dog waste, but she doesn’t talk about the Reina Sofia Museum, which taking into account it holds Picasso’s Guernica, is a really strange thing.

    >Yes, the Reina Sofia is an omission, but I imagine the exclusion of the Reina Sofia was probably cut by the sub editor. Though we read it online, it probably had to fit a newspaper column somewhere (and even webpages have word counts)

    Anyway, her selection of tapas Bars is ok, altough I would choose some others, and then we come the my favourite part of the article:

    >Not inaccurate then. And bear in mind she has to appeal to tourists, most of which won’t want to leave El Tigre with a serviette stuck to their shoe.

    “Madrileños believe that night is the most important time of day (do we? I didn’t know it. This statetment is just ridiculous and you know it).

    >Don’t they? Are you saying the majority of young Madrileños that go out from 2am until 10am on Friday night, sleep until 6pm and then do the whole thing again? They wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t their favourite part of the day. I think this is a slightly tongue-in-cheek way of saying “Madrid is famous for its nightlife” which is very true.

    To party like a local, head to the multistory tavern El Viajero (WRONG!!, you will find almost NO LOCALS there, most of them young men attracted by the crowds of blonde American tourists trying to party like the locals), or the Traveler (Plaza Cebada, 11; 34-91-366-9064), which draws everyone from women in their 20s in “Flashdance” off-the-shoulder sweatshirts (??????????, I’m speechless again, I wonder if this girl lives in Madrid or in Mars)to men in business suits”

    Never been to the Traveler, so I couldn’t comment. But she likes Via Lactea, so she is a lass after my own heart. But any bar she reckons is going to have to cater for tourists to an extent.

    This conversation has gone a long way from its starting point. It seems like a misunderstanding of a writer’s irony (not the Alanis Morissette version, the Dickensian one) and some sense of hurt pride from Madrid’s inhabitants has become a critique of the writer’s opinions, which is hardly fair (or indeed what was originally the point, which was her use of “provincial”). But the day journalists start worrying about hurting a city’s pride when writing is the day all papers will go bust.

  13. DC says:

    Sorry, that’s quite a mess, I started including quotes from the previous message without indicating they were quotes. Oh well!

  14. Argos says:

    Hi Ben,

    Mine would be very similar to the one descibed in España Profunda.

    Best regards and sorry for the rant…

  15. ben says:

    Don’t worry, the more rants the better!

  16. Pingback: NYT does about turn on Madrid, now it’s hip! - Notes from Madrid

  17. Carl says:

    Wow, I missed all those posts. What is amazing to me is how thin-skinned some commentors are. One tiny little negative quote about Madrid brings that much passion? Try being an American reading Spanish Newspapers every day.

    I have been coming to Madrid since 1982. Let’s be honest, for TOURISTS Barcelona has always been sexier. Most TOURISTS’ favorite city was Barcelona. But as the article says, things have changed. Madrid is now passing Barcelona in the sexy category. To be honest, I love the new Madrid, but I also loved the old Madrid where tourists came and went fast – leaving the real Madrid to me and the Madrilenos.

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