Travel Spain: Train Car Airplane Metro/Subway Information: Spain History & Culture Travel Club Visa Info.  
 
    Madrid Spain
Lavapies
         
  A Spain Travel Agent   What to Eat in Spain                   Eurail passes            
About Me / This Site Keeping in touch
Learn to Speak Spanish Group / Bus Tour
 
  Planning: Hotel FAQ Safe Travel Currency I only speak English Travelogues Hotel Search Unique Visits  
 
Visit My Ireland Travel Guide England Travel Guide 
 
 
Spain Travel Guide top page
Touring Spain
Andalusia
Cordoba
Costa del Sol
Granada
Guadix
Jerez de la Frontera
Ronda
Marbella
Malaga
Salobrena
Seville
Basque Country, Aragon and La Rioja
Bilbao
Laguardia
Logroño
Donostia - San Sebastian
Sos del Rey Catolico
Uncastillo
Zaragoza

Castile, Madrid
Avila
Burgos
Cuenca
El Escorial
Madrid
Salamanca
Segovia
Toledo
Catalonia
Barcelona
Poblet
Tarragona
Land of Valencia
Valencia
More Cities
Gijón
Merida
Gibraltar

All Cities Links

Additional Links

LAVAPIES: THE SECRET NIGHT OF LA CANDELA
By Jaed Muncharoen Coffin

Note from Jerrold - The Lavapies district is located east of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
Madrid Orientation Map
Madrid Metro
Madrid sights:
Prado
Museo de America
Royal Palace
Egyptian temple
Parque del Buen Retiro
Madrid Train Station
Lavapies
El Rastro
National Archeological Museum
Museo Cerralbo
Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
Museo del Ejército
Mercado, Plaza de San Miguel
The Plazas:
Plaza Mayor
Puerta del Sol
Plaza de Expaña
Plaza de la Villa
Plaza de Oriente
Plaza de La Independencia
Plaza de Colon

Read about my family's tapas tour in Madrid"

When you get tired of drinking watered down sangria in the tourist bars of downtown Madrid, you may wish to venture into the city's most diverse, artistic, and un-touristed neighborhood: Lavapies. To experience the Lavapies night life, you'll have to stay up past your American bedtime.

To get to Lavapies, take the metro from anywhere in the city to the Lavapies metro stop (yellow line 3).

Upon entering the plaza, you'll find yourself among Africans, Turks, Gypsies, Chinese, South Americans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, and Spanish. The wealth of diversity may at first be daunting. Within minutes, someone will probably step forward, whistling, and offer to sell you hash. This is not a threat, and your life is not in danger. Shake your head “no,” smile, and walk on. You have offended no one, and you are not being followed.

For the Lavapies outdoor café nightlife, head to the streets of Calle Ave Maria or Colegio. The atmosphere is lively, relaxed, and informal. To get service at any of the cafes, you'll have to be -- by American standards -- patient.

If there is an open outdoor table, sit and wait. If there are no tables on the terrace, sit inside and wait. Eventually a waiter will come up and ask what you want to drink. The key to successful interaction is simplicity. If you want to drink a beer, just say “caña.” If you want wine, order the “vino de la casa.” At some bars, you can choose your drinks from the pricelists chalked on the wall. If you want cocktails, most waiters will understand the English version. But truly, if you don't speak Spanish, it helps 1) to order simply, and 2) to not be picky. Regardless of your political affiliations, an American might feel as if he or she were walking on ideological eggshells in Lavapies. The less one appears as the typical “ugly American,” the more it seems to smooth out interactions on all levels of communication.

While the atmosphere of Lavapies is upbeat, jovial, and inviting, one must recognize that being American in this neighborhood can be difficult. Acting with a relaxed class and grace will only improve diplomacy!

You'll notice that many of the patrons of the bars and restaurants have mohawks, shaved heads, or dreadlocks, and more often than not you'll smell hash joints being passed around tables of friends. A visitor must recognize that the presence of hash in Lavapies is accepted as a social -- and nearly legal -- norm. But the crowd of Lavapies is not only young radicals; there are old city Madrileños as well. Gypsy bands with guitars and accordians may come to your table, but they won't haggle for tips. Enjoy the music, sit, drink, talk, drink, talk, and drink.

If you want service, you'll have to politely call on a waiter. The waiters do not work for tips, so it's not one of their concerns to change over tables throughout the night. You can stay at your table for as long as you like and you'll offend no one. Drink slowly and stay long. This seems to be the natural rhythm of Lavapies.   When action in the outdoor cafes subsides around 1:30 or 2a.m., ask for “la cuenta” (the bill), and as mentioned, don't feel obligated to leave a tip. At 2a.m., the Lavapies night is nearly beginning. Continue to page 2, Candela

.


Relationship Disclosure
Tours of Spain
A list of day and multi-day tours; Powered by Viator Inc.
Tours out of Madrid
Tours out of Barcelona,
Tours from Costa del Sol
Tours out of Granada
Tours out of Seville
List of Madrid Hotels
TravelNow.
For the best deals in quality Spain accommodations, book with Madrid and Beyond (see review)
Luxury apartment in Madrid for Rent
Madrid Restaurants Tour
walking, wine, tapas evening in Madrid.
Find Madrid hotels by general location
A Madrid Hotel Review
Madrid City maps for sale
Spain Wine Tours
Unique Accommodation Archive
Book your flight to Spain
Learn to cook Spanish dishes
Enjoy a cooking class with a professional Seville chef
designed to teach the art behind the exquisite cuisine of Andalusia.
Book Your Hotel for Spain
TravelNow.
Visit my Travel Store
Madrid Hotels: Guaranteed Low Rates 
GTA Hotels
Learn Spanish Now!
Transparent Language
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS OF PAMPLONA: The 'Festival of Saint Fermin' goes from July 6 to July 14. Hotels start filling up in January, book early.
Spain Car Rental
AutoEurope
Eurail Pass: The best way to get around Europe
 
 

Copyright Notice - Privacy statement - Disclaimer - Disclosure - E-mail Jerrold - Mission & Principles

 
 

This page last updated September 2007

 
  This article written By Jaed Muncharoen Coffin: Jaed Coffin is the author of, soon to be published, A CHANT TO SOOTHE WILD ELEPHANTS, Da Capo Press, and currently lives between Alaska, Maine, and Spain.
Lavapies Photographs and text © Jaed Muncharoen Coffin 2004