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TOUR GUIDE: discovering Madrid with Christine

Madrid lived many changes in the last years due to its high polution and traffic problems. Mobility has changed and also the access to many places. The new major has also increased the cultural events in the city, many of them free of charge. Many reasons why the Spanish capital has become the No.1 touristic attraction for Chinese, Europeans and also Americans. We talk with the very experienced German tour guide Dr. Christine Giesen.
  • How do you live the current changes in Madrid?
My job has become a complicated affair to some degree, such as the driving ban for tourist buses in the historic center, which makes it difficult to get our guests to their hotels, or the unfair competition of the so called “free tours”, often carried out by people badly or not at all trained.
    1. How does your job change with the different mobility devices?
I myself don’t offer tours by bike, scate, segway or other devices, but some of my fellow guides do. I think it is an entertaining alternative to footwalks, specially for younger visitors.
  • Is it true that Madrid is polluted?
Yes, we have smog, particularly from november to february, like many other European big cities. Local authorities are counteracting by traffic restrictions.
    1. What are you favourite places in Madrid?
Chamberí Square, Prado Museum, and the Capricho Park.
  • How do you evaluate the strategy of the mayor Manuela Carmena to give back the city to its citizens?
The project itself is good and necessary, traffic has become too dominating in the big cities. But putting the plan into action is failing in several aspects. Ban cars from the center is not posible without offering practicable alternatives.
  • Madrid beats records in tourism right now. Why?
Spain`s capital has very much to offer: the Golden triangle of Arts, i.e. three world famous museums (Prado, Reina Sofía, Thyssen-Bornemisza); many royal sites within the city (Royal Palace, Palace of El Pardo, two royal monasteries) as well as nearby (Monastery of El Escorial, the palace of Aranjuez – both World Heritage Sites - and the palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso); or the also World Heritage historical city of Alcalá de Henares, birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Not to forget two highlights for soccer supporters: the stades of Bernabéu (Real Madrid) and Wanda Metropolitano (Atlético Madrid).
  • Where do your clients mainly come from?
I mainly guide visitors from German and English speaking countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA or Canada, but I have also customers from France and Latin America.
  • How do they book you?
Via travel agencies, tour operators or directly by several Internet portals.
  • You did a PhD, does that help in your job?
It is helpful to have a good background of cultural knowledge, like Spanish history (in my case) or history of Arts, but what is also important is to offer solid general facts and experiences of all daily life aspects.
    1. Why I love Madrid so much
Even after more than thirty years in Madrid I still feel living and working here to be a real privilege. This multi-faceted capital has everything to offer: love of life, a rich cultural variety, an impressing choice of art collections and a wide range of different flavours from big-city ambiente to peaceful atmosphere. To share this enthusiasm for Madrid with the visitors of the city is for me the most important matter in my job.
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