Arriving by Air
Barajas (http://www.aena-aeropuertos.es/csee/Satellite/Aeropuerto-Madrid-Barajas/en/Page/1049727006353/) is Madrid international airport. Barajas is about 15 km from the city center. It has direct flights to and from all the major cities in Europe and other continents. Barajas airport is accessible by many bus lines as well as using the suburban train or the Metro network. With this last option it is possible to check-in luggage downtown (Nuevos Ministerios metro station).
Barajas has four terminals:
One-way trip from Madrid Barajas Airport to the downtown is to get a taxi. This travel costs around 30-40 € and has a duration of about 15 minutes depending on the traffic. There should be no problem in getting a taxi from the airport. All legally authorized Madrid taxis have a distinctive color scheme (white with a diagonal red line in the side). All fare rates are established by the city and correctly displayed in the car windows.
Taxi telephone numbers: + 34 91 447 51 80 + 34 91 445 90 08
Line 8 (pink line - Madrid underground map) takes you to the downtown (Nuevos Ministerios Station) from the airport. The last connection from Barajas Airport is guaranteed up until 01.30 AM.
Rates available by 2011:
4,50 € for a Single Underground Ticket + Supplement Airport (Fare zone A)
The Barajas Airport is also connected to the downtown by bus. This line has a cost of 2 € that can be paid in cash when you get on the bus. The travel time is about 40 minutes depending on the traffic. The frequency of this line is about 15 minutes during the day and about 35 minutes during the night. For further information check: http://www.emtmadrid.es/lineaAeropuerto/index.html.
Madrid city center can also be reached by train. This kind of transportation has stops in some of the main stations of the city, like Chamartin, Nuevos Ministerios, Atocha or Principe Pío. The train station is located in the T4 Terminal. This station can be reached from the remaining Terminals by using an internal Airport bus.
The schedule is from 05.15 AM to 11.32 PM (to the Airport) and from 05.59 AM to 00.15 AM (from the Airport); with a frequency of 30 minutes. This travel has a cost of 2.15 €.
BANKING & CURRENCY
The Euro replaced the Peseta on January 1, 2002. The banks are open from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 2pm. Commissions are appreciably variable from one bank to another. It is better not to obtain change in banks located near the monuments and places of interest. In fact it is better to have travelers checks in Euros. In almost all cities, cash can withdraw from ATMs with Eurocard, Mastercard or Visa. A commission is usually charged at the time of the transaction.
Banks open early in the morning, around 08.30am, but close for the day at 2pm. Some branches open on Thursday evening (e.g. Caja Madrid) or Saturday morning. Each bank normally has a small plaque outside its offices indicating any special opening hours.
Spaniards eat late compared with typical European standards. Most restaurants in Madrid serve lunch from 1pm until 3.30pm and dinner from 8pm to 11.30pm.
Most shops and shopping centers in Madrid are open from 10am to 8:30pm or 10pm.
Small/traditional shops open from 10am to 2pm and from 4.30pm to 8.30pm. Most shops are open Monday to Saturday. Many shops close on Sundays, but this is generally not the case with department stores and big shopping centers.
The majority of bars, clubs, nightclubs and discos in Madrid are open from Thursday to Saturday from midnight on. The closing time depends from one club to another, although it is normal to last up until 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.
Buy an adapter and a transformer to avoid any unpleasant surprises during your stay in Madrid. In Madrid the norm is 220 volts, with a frequency of 50 Hz like in UK, while in the United States or Canada, for example, it is 110 volts for 60 Hz. Voltage and sockets vary from country to country in Europe, and so an adapter and also a transformer might be necessary… If you’ve forgotten to bring these important accessories, you’ll be able to find them in electrical goods and stores or hypermarkets. Most major hotels can also provide them. For information, Spanish plugs are equipped with two round pins (see picture).
Shopping areas: There are many shopping areas inside the city of Madrid. The Castellana & Azca area is in walking distance of the conference venue, and includes department stores, electronics and fashion boutiques, restaurants, etc. Other interesting areas can be the Goya and Salamanca area (Goya, Velazquez and Serrano metro stations), the city center and Preciados Street (Sol and Callao metro stations) and the Chueca & Fuecarral area (Tribunal and Gran Vía metro stations).
Opening times: most of the shops and shopping centers are open from 10am to 8:30pm or 9:30pm. Traditional shops open from 10am to 2pm and from 4.30pm to 8.30pm.
Sales: the winter sales generally begin in the second week of January and last until the end of February and the summer sales begin on 1st July and last until the end of August. The conference will take place during this summer sales period.
How to pay: Yo can pay in cash or with a credit card. In the latter case you must show your passport or identity card.
Tax Free: residents from outside the European Union may have their Value Added Tax (VAT) returned for purchases of more than €90.15. Most large shops and department stores have multi-lingual information booths where you can be informed about this.
The Madrid region features a Continental Mediterranean climate with cold winters, including sporadic snowfalls and minimum temperatures often below freezing. Summer tends to be dry and hot, with temperatures that consistently surpass 30°C (86°F) in July and August and are sometimes above 40°C (104 °F). Due to Madrid's altitude and dry climate, diurnal ranges are often significant during the summer. Precipitation is concentrated in the autumn and spring. It is particularly sparse during the summer (two showers and/or thunderstorms a month).