WHAT YOU’LL FIND HERE:
- Travel Tips
- How Much to Budget Daily
- Things To Do
- Places to Eat or Drink
- Culture (Fashion, Tips to Navigate the Culture, etc.)
Main Airport: Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD)
Airport to the Sol (Centro) Madrid: You can take a taxi (24-30 mins). You can take the Cercanias (train) or take the Metro Line 8 (pink line) and transfer
Metro: (prices or table) Visiting vs living there The metro system is the main method of transportation in Spain, you can go anywhere in Madrid through the metro system.
Taxi: When you arrive at MAD, as soon as you grab your luggage and exit through customs, you’ll see very good signage for transportation. They have a taxi queue so you can just head on out and grab the first taxi in line! You can use the myTaxi app and Uber in Madrid as well.
Weather: The weather near the heart of Madrid is wonderful and very similar to the weather in Phoenix or Los Angeles–July is the hottest month with an avg. temperature of 25℃ (76℉). It starts to get colder in Madrid around November, people start to wear boots and coats. January is the coldest month; you’ll see a little bit of rain but mainly dry days. A scarf, hat, layers and coats are sufficient to survive avg. temperatures of 6℃ (42℉). It will get into the low 30’s some weeks as well. It can be cold and rainy well into June…
Currency: Euros, most places accept card but they prefer cash. Fruterías, small grocery markets and some restaurants especially outside of the center, accept only cash. In Europe, in general, you should always have cash with you–at least 20 euros!
Nearest U.S. Embassy: Calle de Serrano, Madrid; Metro Line 10 – Stop Gregorio Marañón
Transportation and eating in Spain can be very very cheap! If you live in Madrid, you’ll find that you can easily purchase breakfast for less than 3 euros, lunch for less than 7 and dinner less than 12. Transportation is probably covered by your Abono. If you’re visiting Madrid and want to live economically, the same applies to you too! You can eat very cheaply in a lot of Spanish chain restaurants, bakeries (almost on every corner) and a lot of restaurants display their menus outside or have people holding signs and passing out coupons. You can easily make sure you stay within your budget!
I recommend 15-30 euros, but you can easily live on less–depends on your comfort!
Free Things To Do: Retiro Park, El Capricho, (link blog here)
MUST-SEE: The sunset at Seis Tetas, Retiro Park, Serrano Street, Barrio Salamanca, the Temple of Debod, Sol/Gran Vía (everything around it), Prado Museum, Madrid Zoo (especially for children), Tapas restaurants, Restaurants that pour ciders
Cheap Eats: You’ll find that eating in Madrid can be super cheap! 100 Montaditos (CIEN) is a popular chain restaurant, offering literally 100 sandwiches and other items around 1-2 euros and they come with free chips! On Wednesdays and Sundays EVERYTHING is 1 euro! The Good Burger and Goiko Grill are beloved chains as well. On Thursdays, The Good Burger has TWO for ONE burgers. You know where to find me on Thursdays for lunch! 😉 Walking around Sol and Malasaña and basically just about any city you will be able to find a variety of foods for less than 6 euros. You’ll find cheap tapas bars everywhere!
Language: Castilian Spanish (Castellano) –It’s very similar to Latin American Spanish but check out the crazy differences between European and Latin American Spanish! (link blog)
Traditions: Semana Santa, Nochevieja, Dia de Los Tres Magos, Navidad
Spanish Foods To Try: Churros con chocolate, Tortillas de Patatas, Paella, Tapas,
Tipping: In general, they either don’t accept tips or don’t solicit them as service is included in the price. Even when I get my nails done, most of the nail salon workers refuse tips! I leave a tip anyway, especially for pedicuras…
Tips: In Spain, restaurants sometimes have a “Menu del Dia”, this is usually a bang for your buck available mainly on Monday-Friday around lunch time 12-4pm, sometimes all day. This consists of a drink: Water, Wine (Cup or even a freakin’ bottle sometimes), Beer or Pepsi/Cola products; 1st dish (appetizer), 2nd dish (main course), and a 3rd dish (dessert or coffee) this ranges from 10-15 euros typically. Some restaurants will even let you share one between two people (it’s so much food)!
Tips for LGBTQ community: If you haven’t heard of Chueca, you have to google it now! Chueca is extremely extremely gay-friendly–the metro station is actually rainbow in celebration of gay pride! Madrid, is sometimes joked about being straight-friendly vs being gay-friendly. Gay Pride is huge here as well!
Tips for POC: Spain is a country that boldly claims “all refugees are welcome”. Just in my classroom I have an extremely diverse class of students with all kinds of different melanin levels. If you google hate crimes in Madrid, you’ll find that the top victims are sadly Muslim people. Honestly, I’ve heard mixed stories from fellow teachers and friends living here. Some news outlets have painted Spain as one of the top countries that black people should NOT travel to. I haven’t traveled to enough countries to confirm if this is true or not; but I have not heard of physical violence against black people in my community. After living here for 6 months, the worst I have faced is staring. I have been stared at many times on my commute on the metro–by older Spanish citizens. It is NOT because they’re curious as some Spanish people will say. I can tell the difference between curiosity and disgust. I tend to stare back with a smile until they look away. I ignore them easily since I’m always listening to Audible. Facebook Groups like Melanin Madrid have created inclusive spaces and events for people of color in Madrid to have a sense of community. I will blog more about this subject in the months to come.
Legal Drinking Age
18 years old; but I’ve NEVER been asked for my ID. EVER! And I’ve probably ordered a drink 300+ times. In the U.S., I am checked everywhere I go because I look younger than 20 sometimes…I’m short…
Breakfast in Spain, culturally, is very small and eaten between when you wake up to around 12pm. Usually you’ll eat something like toast, maybe a donut or churro con chocolate or another small sweet. It’s almost unheard of to even consider eating an egg in the morning! Lunch is the BIGGEST meal. (Hence the menu del dia with 3 courses to make sure you’re full!) Lunch is usually eaten by Spaniards around 2pm-3pm. 12pm — a normal American lunch time is also almost unheard of, though you can find lunch items in restaurants and grocery stores, don’t worry! Dinner time is treasured and usually eaten around 9-10pm; any earlier and you’ll get funny looks. In fact, a lot of restaurants close around 4pm and don’t open again until 8pm for dinner. It’s very common to see Spaniards eating outside and enjoying dinner, talking and drinking very late into the night 7 days a week. I told my Spanish teachers and friends that in the States we eat dinner around 5-8pm usually and I always get shocked looks and, “but don’t you get hungry at night when you’re trying to sleep!?”
Restaurants & Shopping stores in America that you’ll find in Spain
H&M, IKEA, Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Adidas, McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks (everywhere), Louis Vuitton, Gucci, LongChamp, Coach (all the high-end brands, basically!)
Smart, casual–you won’t see people in sweatpants or pajamas or their hair in messy unkempt buns on the weekends or after work. Everyone dresses smart casual or nicer. You also may or may not get stared at if you’re wearing gym clothes and not holding a gym bag or look like you’re on the way to the gym. Lounge style is not socially acceptable…
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