It has been well over a week since I have arrived in Madrid, and today was our last day of our official orientation. It included exploring the enormous flea market of Madrid: El Rastro. Nothing puts me in a good mood like spending hours exploring the hundreds of different stalls and tents set up along a number of different plazas and streets. After the hectic, stressful, and high-energy week I’ve had, this was just what I needed!
El Rastro de Madrid or simply el Rastro is said to be one of the most popular open air flea markets in Spain, and is the largest in Madrid. It is held every Sunday and public holiday throughout the year from 9:00 am-3:00 pm. It is is located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo (just south of La Latina metro station).
There are various sections of El Rastro, where you can find prints and paintings, antiques, and areas to exchange and barter. Many of the shops are selling clothing, hand-made leather bags and wallets, artisan crafts and jewelry, and many other things. It is incredible to see! I bought a military-style jacket that I have been searching for for a number of years! Yesss! As well as a nice leather purse. I plan to go back at least once more to buy some gifts for friends and family before I return home.
Pickpockets and Thieves in Their Glory
Madrid, like any other large city around the world, is known for its pickpockets and thieves. Barcelona is particularly notorious for their professional thieves, or landrones. I have been fortunate to not get anything lost or stolen (let’s not jinx myself!), but have already heard plenty of stories. The important part is to keep a watchful eye, don’t be stupid, and don’t be careless. You should know the rules, and understand that these guys are professional.
El Rastro makes a perfect place for them to sneak through the packed streets or say… grab an unsuspecting girl’s bag and run off with it.
I was sitting down on a wall, resting my feet, just people-watching. Across the street, I saw a girl take off her bag (which had been strapped securely across her chest) and put it on the bench besides her to remove her sweatshirt. BOOM. The moment she was pulling her arm through her sweatshirt, a guy bent down, grabbed her purse, and quickly skipped away, disappearing into the crowd before anyone knew any better. It was that fast. Poor girl. I didn’t even have time to register what happened myself. It was a sign of warning for me to be extra watchful of my stuff at all times, particularly when you know this is the perfect place for thieves to be lurking.