Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tourism and technology unite!

Recently returned to the United States, I've found something that I was missing all of these years when I traveled to the U.S. from Spain: a way to rent a smartphone with no strings attached. A new company called Explora based out of NYC rents Nexus 5 phones armed to the teeth with all of the social media, travel, and news apps for $8 a day. What's best about the service is the unlimited data, nationwide calls and messaging at that price.

They send the phone directly to you at your home or hotel upon arrival, then on your way out of the town all you've got to do is put the phone in the envelope Explora supplies and drop it off at a Fedex location. Voila! 

It's much easier and cheaper than what I used to do; the hassle of SIM cards, burner phones, looking for WiFi, and roaming fees made me not want to use a phone on my trips back. With Explora it's easy, cheap, and perfect for international travelers since the phone comes set in the language of your choice. The unlimited 4G data is the deal-sealer for users from other countries. 

It's a surefire choice for everyone around the world. I found out about them through recent travel and tourism posts on blogs and news sites. 

Check out a  a new way to rent a smartphone for travelers

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day trips from Madrid

If you ever find yourself yearning to get out of Madrid, whether it be for a breath fresh air, to see the nearby mountains, or be it to visit famous world heritage sites; there are plenty of easily manageable buses and trains to take you to all of said getaways. I recently had the pleasure of visiting El Escorial, a 3-in-1 monastery, museum and royal palace constructed in 1584, situated 45 minutes outside of Madrid by train. Through it, you´ll encounter rooms dedicated to it´s construction, tales of battle, and king´s tombs. There are many beautiful arched cielings decorated with impressive frescos and tapestries throughout the monastery, all of which are patroled by museum guards constantly shouting, ¨Photos no!¨ to the tourists. 

I decided to sneak a few photos of my own.

Outside of the palace / monastery, you can stroll for free in the gardens, which provide wonderful views of the countrside with the towers of Madrid visable far off on the horizon. It´s a perfect day trip, and right next to the monastery is the quaint village of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is perfect to have a coffee, beer, or tapas to relax after touring the enormous monastery. 

Here are some links for train schedules to arrive. The C3 or C8 will take you from Atocha to El Escorial.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A little bit of China in Madrid

If you´re ever in Madrid and you feel like going out for some really down-and-dirty Chinese food that is NOT in buffet form; waiting literally underneath one of Madrid´s most famous plazas, Plaza de España, is Bar China, which is actually underground and connected to the parking deck. So unless you are parking a car underground, you will never find this place. The plentiful dishes range from 4€-7€ and each table is outfitted with Sriracha and soy sauce for your salty and hot overload. The food is authentic, greasy, and delicious. Try it out if you´re sick of your typical Chinese restaurant.

Standard Starters - Dumplings and Beer

Take a look at #2, please. ¨Pyramid shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves¨

 No, it´s not a bus station, its an underground hallway full of chinese magic.

 Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, in Plaza de España

The Cervantes Monument

The plaza facing Edificio España
All of the above photos are my own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Madrid at night

Sometimes cities are just much more beautiful in the evening. Here are some photos of  some of Madrid´s most captivating and famous buildings lit up at night.

There is always more to be seen, but realistically that was a lot of ground covered in one night...
(All photographs were taken by me personally)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Santiago Bernabéu

When a friend invites you to go to a soccer match in Santiago Bernabéu stadium to see Real Madrid play a game, be it a friendly blowout match against a Columbian team with ties to the current owner or not, you go.

Especially when the seats are such that are realistically out of your price range. Here are some photos of Spain´s best team, up close ( no zoom lens here ).


 Özil with the drive n´ dish

 Santiago Bernabéu in all it´s glory.
 Coentrão gettin´ clobbered by the keeper.

 Kaká on a penalty.

 Sealin´ the deal.

 My boy Benzema with a nasty cut-back.

It was a total beatdown 8-0 with some seriously impressive goals.
Here´s a video of the goals.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

El Matadero - Arts Center

Imagine the gigantic, dangerous, cold slaughterhouses of Chicago, the ones that you´ve read about in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair; then try to imagine an art gallery in the giant meat vats´ place, or a theater, or a music stage. In the south of Madrid proper, an old slaughterhouse (functional until 1996) has been turned into just that; a creative arts center  for concerts, exhibitions, and films, it is called El Matadero.

There are various spaces called ¨naves¨ or warehouses, many of which have 50 foot removable walls to make the space easily manageable for various different exhibitions and / or concerts. There is a ¨cineteca¨ whos walls are made of recycled rubber hoses, that harbors various theaters of different sizes. Other spaces in the Matadero are devoted to art & design, botany, and there is even a mini-community for musicians sponsored by Redbull.

The buildings are quite beautiful, boasting a strange mix of architectural styles such as Neo-Mudejar, which has arabic influences and is exclusive to Spain. Between all of the buildings are courtyards with cafes and it all next to Matadero Park and Arganzuela Park, which run along the Manzanares River.

There are constantly events being held at El Matadero, but if art and music isn´t your thing, you can just take a walk through the winding parks nearby!

(All photos are my own)