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Capital gains facts

Capital gains facts

With low-cost trains there's no excuse now for not nipping up to the capital to get a flavour of big city life if you haven't already done so

Friday, 2 June 2023, 15:46

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The long-awaited low-cost AVE train between Malaga and Madrid makes its debut this month and, with ticket sales of more than 19 000 in the first 24 hours, the signs are that there is a huge market to be tapped into if the companies concerned can deliver a quality service. Prices will be available from as little as seven euros if you book far enough in advance and an average journey time of three hours 12 mins is only about forty minutes longer than the regular AVE service.

So, there's no excuse now for not nipping up to the capital to get a flavour of big city life if you haven't already done so. Having stayed there for six months fruitlessly pursuing a vague opportunity in the world of music quite a few years back, I feel fully qualified to offer a handy guide to help first-time visitors get the most from their sojourn.

First off, don't use terms from Malaga for things like a standard coffee (un mitad) or a small roll (pitufo) because they'll just laugh at you as they did me, especially if you're a foreigner. The fact that 'pitufo' also means Smurf doesn't help matters much either, to be honest.

Secondly, make sure to wander aimlessly at all times. For all its Prado museums and Gran Vías and El Retiros, by far the best thing a chap can do in the grand metropolis is mosey about, nonchalantly losing himself in endless labyrinths of side and back streets where, owing to the prohibitive rents on the main thoroughfares, all the best independent shops, bars and galleries are to be found. After dark, adapt your wanderings accordingly.

Next, be sure to tuck into the justifiably much-vaunted local dish, cocido madrileño. This is a piping hot chick pea stewy thing, laced with all manner of vegetables and meat plus a random lump of fat for good measure. During the unforgiving winter in the capital, it's a life saver; in summer, it's just as tasty. While we're on that point, and contrary to all conventional wisdom, I think the best time to visit Madrid is the summer. This is when most of the natives have fled to their second homes on the coast, theatrically mopping their collective brow and whimpering about feeling faint or something. Pull yourselves together, people. It's really not that hot and, anyway, everywhere is air-conditioned, so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Still, you get lots of lovely places all to yourself and riding on the metro is like having a personal train driver.

Mind you, Madrid in the winter is wonderful, too, especially in the run-up to Christmas. The biting cold, the lights, and the crowds all combine beautifully to offer the perfect yuletide vibe.

On top of all this, you might even bump into a Real Madrid fan who's actually from Madrid. Imagine that.

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