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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Finding a palacio fit for Beckham
By Danny Wood
BBC correspondent in Madrid

Bullfight in Madrid's Las Ventas arena
Bullfighting is a Madrid pastime the Beckhams could enjoy
The hottest question on the lips of Madrid's real estate agents is: "Where is Senor Beckham going to set up camp?"

According to reports, El Becks will receive a weekly salary of £90,000 with Real Madrid. Can you get a Palacio Beckham for that?

The traditional area for rich people to live is Salamanca.

This is a neighbourhood of Madrid that consists of elegant, older style, low-rise apartments and classy shopping areas. Actress Penelope Cruz has an apartment there.

If this is not for the Beckhams, many of Madrid's star footballers live outside the centre.

An area called Florida consists of modern, palatial housing that will set you back millions of euros.

Those who are well off often have a holiday home in the mountains behind Madrid, the sierra that includes the palace complex of El Escorial, about an hour's drive from the city centre.

Estate agents aren't the only ones relishing the thought of jumping on the Beckham bandwagon.

Find out who pays David Beckham what

Madrid's haute couture outlets might well give the shop windows an extra polish before he arrives.

But the city isn't a London, Paris or New York. While it is possibly to find any sort of fashion style, generally the everyday dress sense is probably more conservative than the former three cities.

For classy, conservative but classic fashions, Calle Serano in Salamanca is where the Beckhams will find label-oriented boutiques and shops.

Doubtless, Posh will flash the cash on regular trips here.

For more accessible shopping, including dozens of shoe shops, Calle de Fuencarral is the place. For offbeat and alternative fare, she should head to the neighbourhood called Lavapies.

Nightlife

The world now knows that the celebrity couple like to be seen out and about. Madrid has a very accessible and varied nightlife.

Newcomers to the city often hang about round Sol, an area which is roughly the geographical centre of the capital and includes numerous bars and restaurants.

If the new kids on the block are keen to make expat friends or find British visitors, Calle Las Huertas is lined with loads of theme bars that locals and tourists alike crowd to on the weekends.

They'll be able to tidy up their flamenco dancing at Cada Momo.

But it's more than likely Posh and Becks will head for El Bolivar and Gabana which, according to locals, are regular drinking spots for the grossly overpaid.

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz is one of the local celebrities the Backhams could mix with

The Beckhams should be able to relax in the culinary climate of Madrid too. You can eat just about anything from anywhere.

Restaurants serving cuisine from outside Spain - Thai, Japanese, etc - aren't as thick on the ground as in London, but they're not hard to find.

If you like meat you'll be easily satisfied. There are vegetarian restaurants but you have to look quite hard.

Food is treated less as an artwork and more as something you eat, so you won't find the sophisticated presentation of food as often as you would in London or Paris.

The famous couple are most likely to be spotted in the glamorous restaurants of Café Chinitas, Maite Comodoro and La Dorada, probably on a table to the right, with that of Zinedine Zidane in the middle and Ronaldo up front.

On a basic level, Madrilenos - as the locals are known - are generally very friendly with each other from the moment they meet.

First acquaintances dive into friendly conversations straight away. Foreigners are certainly included in this.

The Beckhams will find that even a little bit of Spanish language goes a very long way.

Becks will probably find the following phrases quite useful:

  • Me llamo David - I'm called David

  • Me gusta mucho Madrid - I'm very fond of Madrid

  • Te gusta mi peinado? - Do you like my hairdo?

They will also find that it's best to surrender to local habits early. Many shops, apart from big shopping centres like the swanky El Corte Ingles, won't open until 0930 and will shut between 1400 and 1600, but they will stay open until at least 2000.

When possible, Madrilenos enjoy a coffee break at about 1000 and a long and relaxed lunch for at least an hour between 1400 and 1600. Dinner is usually light but allows for an extended evening enjoying tapas.

The famous paseo - the traditional leisurely walk - still exists and it is, for many locals, a daily ritual.

After work, from about 2000, rather than heading straight for a bar, many locals are out with their families strolling the streets.

Will the Beckhams join in the paseo? Posh might decide to parade the kids on a gentle stroll in Retiro Park on the eastern side of the city centre or in front of the Royal Palace.

Or will the celebrity couple's new property be large enough for a long evening stroll without leaving the premises?

Madrid's estate agents will hope so.





VOTE RESULTS
Will David Beckham be a hit at Real Madrid?
Yes
 70.29% 
No
 29.71% 
10068 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO:
Beckham thrilled with Real deal
18 Jun 03  |  Football



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