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Madrid, Spain

Page 9
Continued from page 8

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ABOVE: A hat and cap shop in central Madrid. INSET BELOW: Workmen install a jungle scene on the façade of El Corte Inglés, Madrid's biggest department store.

Shopping in Madrid

photoYour first shopping stop in Madrid should be a good bookstore, where you can pick up Madrid guidebooks and maps.

Two easy-to-find stores are Fnac at the Plaza Callao (head upstairs to the book department), and the book section of the huge El Corte Inglés department store, which is separate from the main building. (Look for the bookshop on the north side of the Puerta del Sol.)

Spain is famous for its leather products, including shoes and handbags. Other popular items include ceramics, traditional Spanish capes, shawls, combs, jewelry (especially Majorica cultured pearls), furniture, antiques, flamenco items, and products for Roman Catholics such as ecclesiastical garments, rosaries, and nativity scenes. (For souvenirs of a newer religion, visit the Real Madrid football club's shop at Bernabéu Stadium or in the Calle de Carmen by the Puerta del Sol.)

photoMadrid also has a number of interesting markets, including the historic iron-and-glass Mercado de San Miguel (mostly meat and produce; on the Plaza San Miguel near the Plaza Mayor) and the Rastro flea market, which attracts Madrileños, tourists, and pickpockets on Sunday mornings.

If you're interested in luxury goods, try the shops and malls in the Serrano district, a modern (and upscale) district north of the center. You can get there by public transportation or via MadridVision's "Modern Madrid" sightseeing-bus route.

Finally, during the Christmas season, you'll find an Advent market, the Mercado de Artículos Navideños, in the Plaza Mayor.

Shopping hours: Most shops operate on a Spanish schedule, typically 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with department stores open through the lunch hour and later in the evening (9 or 10 p.m.).

For more information, see Madrid Links: Shopping and our article on European tax-free shopping for visitors from outside the EU.

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