Madrid, Spain
Javier, 32
Founder, Cooltourspain
see his Madrid city guide

ask Javier about

street art/graffiti tours museums workshops

a bit about Javier

What do you do and why do you do it?

I run a project called Cooltourspain where visitors will be able to participate in an experience that will show the best street art and graffiti in Madrid. I started it because I wanted to travel all around the world while working on something that would show the underground parts of Madrid, as well as letting others discover my culture and solve an existing problem in the tourism industry: over-population on city tours.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?

I would say that handing out flyers for an advertising company when I was 16 years old might have been the worst experience I have ever had while working for others. I wasn't sure of the future I wanted to have by that time and accepted basically any type of job that would offer me a small wage.

Were you born and raised in Madrid? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Madrid?

I was born and raised in Madrid, in the outskirts of the city. I grew up in a neighborhood called Manoteras in the Hortaleza district, very close to the airport. It was not until I turned 18 when I first travelled abroad. My parents wanted me to spend a summer in Ireland studying English but I was so afraid that I never went. Years later, I discovered that the English culture was going to be linked with me for the rest of my life.

What’s your current hood in Madrid and what’s the best/worst thing about it?

I live in Manoteras, a working class neighborhood. I love that there are parks on every corner and you can buy at local supermarkets instead of big chains. Most of my family and friends live here as well so I enjoy living here. It's well connected by metro to any part of town but what I really miss is an international community hanging around the hood: American people, French buddies or British fellows.

What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?

I listen mostly to those type of tunes which include a hard beat. I love electronic music in all genres (house, techno, drum and bass or jungle) but I am also interested in Trap, a new version of hip-hop. Music from different parts of the world such as Latin or African also interest me but what I cannot really stand is Heavy Rock music, it annoys me.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

If I'm ever broken hearted I would listen to Ivan Ferreiro, Sidonie or Vetusta Morla. Those are the Spanish artists that would be on my playlist in case I would need to recover from a girl friend who gave up on me. I love how the lyrics from Indie music could mean that much when you are sad.

Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?

I would classify Faulty Towers as probably the best TV show of all times. This hilarious program, edited in the UK, made me laugh while learning English. I will always have good memories from the times I watched it during my college years. I would recommend it to anyone!

Name some spots in Madrid that are good for a Tinder date.

Madrid is filled with many spots that are perfect for your Tinder date. The question is, what type of date will it be? In case you want somewhere romantic, I'd recommend you visit El Cerro del Tio Pio park, located in Vallecas. Best panoramic view of Madrid! In case you want to take him/her to a nice area full of bars & restaurants, head to Ponzano street close to Rios Rosas metro station. If you are an artsy person, visit La Neomudejar museum. This avant garde center will surprise you!

Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).

I would love to see the Spanish comedian Joaquin Reyes "roasted" in a public event. This 42 year old artist from Albacete is unique, and his abilities to conduct a show in which he would be roasted would lead on to an incredible performance! I just love him and his shows!

Who’s your hero and where in Madrid would you take them out for a serious hang?

My heroes are Mortadelo and Filemón, Spanish comic characters from the 50's. Their stories have been read by millions of people in Spain, children and adults alike. I would take them around Lavapiés neighborhood. There would be many scenarios that they could solve in the area and many street art pieces they would love to photograph.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Even though I don't like mall shopping centers that much I have to admit that I visit them from time to time. In Madrid city I visit Plenilunio or Palacio del Hielo because they are conveniently located for me. If I would have to visit any of the malls in the outskirts of the city, I would go to Plaza Norte 2 or Xanadu. The latter features an indoors ski center. If you like to walk outdoors instead of a mall, visit Calle Hortaleza or Calle Fuencarral for hipster shops. If you are a classic shopper, go to Goya or Velazquez streets.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

La Moraleja is probably the part of the city that you will never catch me. It is a very expensive and luxurious place where rich people live. I am a down to Earth person and I don't think I belong there. It doesn't have a very good public transport network and getting there takes too long! There is nothing to do, but observing the villas of bankers. Horrible!

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

Football is my passion. I support Real Madrid and watch all their matches. There are two other big teams in my city called Atlético de Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. The former plays in La Liga, the latter in the second league. I always keep on telling my friends to visit their stadium and attend a match, but I guess that going to Teresa Rivero stadium (Rayo Vallecano) is something I will never get to do even though I love football.

Where do you go in Madrid for a casual night out?

There is not just one bar that I would recommend you to visit if you are looking for a casual night out, but a ton of them. If you are thinking about a smart place where to go, it would be Opium where there's a posh atmosphere. Gabanna is a nice place but with a younger audience. Check their Erasmus parties. Pacha for electronic music, but it depends on the session planned. Boom Room for those who want to discover the local nightlife and Huertas which is well known for tourists.

Where would you go in Madrid to celebrate some freaking good news?

Good news to me will always be related to new adventures. Consequently, I would need to visit a place where there is adrenaline. I usually celebrate good news with my friends at Madrid's best karting center. It is called Ángel Burgueño and their infrastructure will let you drive as if you were a pro. The 4-stroke engine cars available have been designed only for real adventurers.

What’s your choice of transportation in Madrid and why?

My favourite way to commute in the city is by bike or Cercanias. Even though the bike mapping system is not that good, there is a circular road around Madrid that you can take to travel between the different neighborhoods. Both cercanias and metro allow passengers to carry their bikes so I also use this a lot. It is clean, safe, quick and cheap compared to other European capitals.

What are the Madrid spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

I would recommend to walk along Retiro Park or rent a bike and cycle around. Either way, it is a must. Puerta del Sol and the chocolate desserts you may find at La Malloquina occupy the second position on my list. Thirdly, I would take my friends to Madrid's biggest flea market known as El Rastro. Plan your trip in advance because it is only open on Sundays. Chueca district and the Gran Via are also a must.

What are the Madrid spots tourists should run from screaming?

Tourists should avoid San Miguel market. Prices are expensive, and even though the deli products sold there are high enough quality, Madrid visitors should visit local markets such as San Fernando or Antón Martín, which are non-touristic and non-commercial compared to San Miguel. They should also avoid El Corte Inglés, which is a mall center. My reason to not visit it is to support local businesses.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Madrid. How do you spend it?

I would enjoy a good breakfast in Malasaña area at any of the cafés around Plaza dos de Mayo. I would also not forget to walk along the Manzanares riverside and visit Matadero Madrid (Madrid's former slutter house). It has been converted into a contemporary art center where different workshops and exhibitions take place. I would also visit the walls of La Tabacalera, a former tobacco warehouse where more than 2,000 women worked in the labor of cutting, chopping and distributing tobacco related products.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

I have travelled to 27 countries so far (the list is growing) and I admit that Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas has probably been the perfect place to enjoy a couple of weeks in paradise. The pink sand beach is a natural wonder that everyone should visit at least once in their life. The little towns all across the island will make you feel the traditional way of living, where fishermen and local farmers go about their lives. I wish I could go there more often!

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cooltourspain

photos by

Edgard Marques