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How to escape the winter chill in Madrid.

With world famous tip-top museums such as the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza all within easy walking distance of each other, there are plenty of well-known, central places to take refuge from the winter chill. But if you hate to queue, why not try one of the smaller less-known galleries?

A real gem is to be found virtually around the corner from these heavyweight institutions. The CaixaForum has excellent, free exhibitions, as well as being of architectural interest for its cutting edge design and futuristic feel. The museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is housed in a converted 1899 power station. You can catch a Dalí/Lorca exhibition there until the 11th of February,2011.

After a good Spanish lunch and siesta, head for an afternoon session at the movies. There are a number of cinemas near the central Plaza de España showing films in the original version. Renoir Princesa (www.cinesrenoir.com) and the Golem cinema (www.golem.es) are sure to have at least one film in English, whilst the still central Filmoteca Española, Cines Doré (www.mcu.es/cine) offers around 10 concurrent film series each month.

On a cold evening, there’s a limitless choice of cosy bars and restaurants, so opt for tasty tapas, then head for the historic Teatro de la Zarzuela (teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es). A Zarzuela is a Spanish operetta. Light-hearted and fun, with lavish costumes and gestures, you’ll get the gist even without the language. The season begins on the 17th of October with a classic, ‘Soto del Parral’, a satire about provincial ways.

Fly low cost to Madrid from a number of UK airports with Easy Jet or Ryan Air.

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