Yeeha! We flew to Madrid a week ago, to stay in the very comfortable Hotel Agumar on Paseo Reina Cristina, which I had booked online the day before through expedia.com. That saved us €18-23 a night on their regular rate, so let me recommend the expedia service!
The hotel is in the Tringulo de las artes, which means that, although P. Reina Cristina itself is nothing to write home about, it’s in walking distance of the Prado, the Centro Reina Sofía (modern art) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, a donated private collection which apparently fills some of the gaps in the Prado collection: apparently, the Prado collection reflects the tastes of successive monarchs, rather than a sustained effort to build a representative national collection. We managed some of the Reina Sofía last weekend, but there’s no rush to pack it all into one trip – because we live here now, and can go back as often as we like! Ha!
We extended our hotel stay a couple of days (which is why I know the difference between the expedia rate and the regular rate.) while we looked for permanent accommodation. After seeing some teensy-weensy unfurnished flats at the kind of rates you expect in a capital city, of which our favourite (owned by a bank) would have involved a twelve month bank guarantee, or six months’ rent as security, we decided to find something furnished as a temporary measure, to give us time to get to know the city properly.
Habibi found the in-Madrid.com website a few months ago, which is why we know that the Madrid Players don’t play for Real Madrid. In-Madrid.com has a section advertising flat shares and furnished rooms.
Habibi downloaded the current ads, and I composed a standard email which I could then amend according to whether the ad was for a flat (piso) or a bedroom (habitación) in a shared flat (piso compartído) and whether said habitación was individual or doblé, or we could do one or two rooms on our budget. For the entertainment of anyone who speaks español, I enclose my best efforts:
I saw your ad in In-Madrid.com. My husband and I are looking for a room for a month, while we look for other, more permanent accommodation, and your room sounds ideal. Is it still available, and if so, can we come and see it? We can come today.
We are a professional couple, English, and fully house-trained!
This is my email address, but I have to go to a locutorio to check my email. If you would like to call me on my mobile, my number is 123456789. Could you let me know what rent you are asking?
Estoy buscando un habitacion para mi, y mi marido, para un mes. Somos profesionales, limpias y responsables.
Es su habitacion tambien disponible? Podemos visitar hoy. Este es mi email, pero es mas facil si usted puede llamar a mi movil, nombre: 123456789. Que es el precio, por favor?
P.S. I apologise for the errors in my Spanish!
The next step was to phone the people who didn’t give email addresses. Trepidation: replying to ads (anuncios) in in-Madrid and Segundomano (daily small ads mag) submitted in español……ulp!
Lots of pauses and repetition, (and answerphone messages! Never thought about having to leave messages!) plus deep gratitude that those who answered the phone a) were generally patient and good-humoured, and b) could, in some cases, speak English!
We ended up looking at this place, in the area we wanted, at 10 o’clock last night, after the very kind keyholder finished work. Done deal. Went for a drink round the corner afterwards to celebrate. Turns out he used to work in Saudi and Britain – and he’s French, by the way – so we had plenty to talk about.
Today (Thursday, August 9th)we packed, checked out of Hotel Agumar, handed over a month’s rent for this place, took possession of FIVE keys, and moved in. And it’s lovely. A couple of hundred years old, small and quite noisy, but perfect for us for now.
Two negatives: there is a knack to opening the street door, and we were stuck out in the sun for nearly 10 minutes improvising wrist action and tactical pulls and pushes, before a neighbour appeared and demonstrated The Knack. Huh. I’m going to practise after sunset.
And (Neg2) we’re not sure where the light switch is in the lobby, which does a pretty good impression of Stygian gloom as soon as the fine Mediterranean solid wood street door closes: Habibi tripped with his hands full and hit his face on the stairs. He’s fine, if somewhat grazed and bruised, but it was horrible at the time. If only he’d tripped over a goat or chicken, it would have the makings of one of those jolly place-in-the-sun anecdotes, but unfortunately, central Madrid is notably lacking in farmlife, so no publishing deal so far. But no sticking plasters either, so not too bad.
Anyway, tenemos un piso exterior, pequeño, mucha luz, suelo parquet, con televisión, amueblada, , baño con ducha, cocina equipada. A cinco minutos a pie de Metro y parada de autobus. €800 gastos incluidos. And, just for the record, somos gente limpia, y responsable. (We have a nice furnished flat, €800 a month, all in).
It´s a sign......
piso pequeño y bonito
.....with really good....
Greetings from our bit of Madrid!