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#46916 - 02/19/03 06:30 AM Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
Floroz Offline

Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 64
Loc: Raleigh, NC
Where is this area in Madrid? I can't locate it on the map that I have. Is this an open air flea market? What days is it open? Is it safe for a woman alone?

Who are the "sheet vendors" that you see on the sidewalks around busy areas? They come an go in a flash which makes me think they might be illegal.

#46917 - 02/19/03 09:52 AM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
Miguelito Offline

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 603
El rastro is mainly in the street ribera de curtidores and surrounds between the metro stops of Tirso de Molina, La Latina and Puerta de Toledo. It's safe, although there's a lot of pickpocketing, you must be very careful with this.
The sheet vendors are illegal, although it's not ilegal to buy them, in fact it's very usual to buy them if you like their product ...

#46918 - 02/19/03 10:02 AM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro

Registered: 06/26/02
Posts: 144
The Rastro is a very big flea market where you can find just about everything! It occures once a week (on sundays I believe). Finding it should not be a problem, just ask anyone although I'm sure someone here can pinpoint the exact location and perhaps even tell you the nearest metro stop.
Yes it is safe for a woman to shop alone. Woman, men, couples and families frequent "El Rastro". That being said, the usual precautions are required as there is always the potential of pickpockets.
The "Sheet Vendors" seem to be all over europe. The ones that I can recall were African and had "set up shop" in front of the Atocha train station. Most of what they sell is counterfit, fake, replicas. There is nothing wrong (someone correct me if i'm wrong!!!!!) with buying from them. Try and reduce their price. I have purchased a "Lacoste alligator" shirt from "sheet vendors" and it served me well. Clothing (shirts)should be bought larger as it will shrink. Watches will not keep their luster very long and may stop working at anytime (although I have heard of some lasting years). Sun glasses are basically disposable but at least you won't worry about them if you loose them or sit on them.
I don't know anything about the CD's. Does anyone know??? Funny this topic came up as I am looking for a pair of replica Oakley Romeo glasses. They don't have them here in Alberta, Canada. Has anyone seen them in Madrid???????
Vamonos pa'Cadiz!

#46919 - 02/19/03 04:02 PM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
sel Offline

Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 459
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
They are called sheet vendors because they put their products on a sheet. When the police come they grab the corners of their sheet to gather their stuff and run into crowds of people if possible.

In Barcelona last summer, we saw a guy(tourist), who had his head in the clouds, walk into a row of sheet vendors. He stepped on numerous pairs of sunglasses and CDs before he could regain his balance and they were furious with him!! eek

#46920 - 02/19/03 05:07 PM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
eduardo Offline

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 107
Loc: Madrid
The sheet vendors, or "top manta" as they seem to be called by many Spaniards (a play on the words "top ten"?), are usually immigrant North Africans, South Asians, or Chinese. You'll see them on the side walks in just about any major shopping district (Sol, Salamanca, Atocha, etc.) The CDs are illegal copies, so one takes one chances when purchasing them. Sometimes, they may be excellent quality, sometimes they may be "scratchy" or incomplete, or sometimes they can just have the wrong contents completely and not match the jacket. If you purchase from them, you'll join the majority of Spaniards who have bought music from these sources according to polls. Their "advertised prices" seem to be about 2 Euros per disc.

#46921 - 02/20/03 06:45 AM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
Eddie Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 06/05/00
Posts: 1713
Loc: Phila., PA, USA
re. el Rastro:
Where is this area in Madrid? I can't locate it on the map that I have. Is this an open air flea market? What days is it open? Is it safe for a woman alone?
Hang on to your purse! The earlier 'poster's' caveat concerning pickpockets should also be aimed at Purse snatchers. Don't ever set your purse down on the table! Don't wear any 'hanging' jewelry (i.e., necklace or bracelet). Otherwise you're pretty safe there.

Who are the "sheet vendors" that you see on the sidewalks around busy areas? They come an go in a flash which makes me think they might be illegal.
Unless there's a police crackdown or a merchant has called the police because street vendors have set up shop on the sidewalk in front of his place of business, the street vendors are all over the place (especially touristy areas). Most of what they sell is inferior merchandise: 'knock off's' of name brands, etc. But you can get it cheap: they expect you to haggle over price.

It amazes me: people who wouldn't be caught dead in a fleamarket near their home in the U.S. rush to fleamarkets like el Rastro in Madrid or the one in Paris. It must give Europeans a distorted view of Americans.
P.S. When a nephew from Madrid came to visit us in Philadelphia, I took him to the local fleamarket - he was amazed at all the stuff he could buy there.

#46922 - 02/20/03 08:40 PM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
Booklady Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 1664
Loc: U.S.A.
I did not get a chance to go to the Rastro on my last visit, 12/2001, but I remember being there in the early seventies, and I remember that you could find a lot of treasures in El Rastro. I boiught a shoe box filled with vintage postcards(pre 1915) for $10 and my mother bought a beautiful Linen cutwork round tablecloth with 12 napkins for under $30.00. The lady that sold it to her had a table filled with fine linens, and she said the work had been done by an order of nuns near Madrid.

I have to go next year! smile
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
--St. Augustine (354-430)

#46923 - 02/20/03 10:30 PM Re: Madrid Flea Markets, El Rastro
ppp Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 12
Loc: NYC
If you've ever been to street fairs in NYC, the Rastro is similar, but on a much more compacted, crowded level. It is a great place to people watch. When we were there, it was super-packed.. so much so that you could barely walk and get to the stands to look at the goods. Definitely be wary of pickpocketers as it is very crowded (lots of bumping into people).

I was expecting more of a "flea market" with antique vintage stuff, but the wares are more on the lines of t-shirts/scarves/prints/fake and real leather goods/tchokes (sorry about that spelling). I would explore the side streets if you are looking for furniture and such.

I did get these thin pretty scarves that I noticed many of the young women were wearing - maybe 2 euros - they come in many colors.
Enjoy !


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