Semana de la Ciencia (Science Week)
According to the organisers, "Madrid Science Week is held every year during November and it tries to spread the results of scientific researches by opening the scientific spaces normally closed to visitors. Its main aim is to stimulate the knowledge of science and technology among citizens. It offers more that 500 free activities addressed to all citizens without distinction based on age, gender, level of scientific training, or social category".
This year, from 10 to 23 November 2.008.
- Website in English.
You can drink the tap water, if you like the taste
The tap water in Madrid is safe to drink and if you ask for water at a bar, this is what you get. Not everybody that we know in Madrid, drinks it as it tastes of Chlorine. We drank it and we thought it was fine.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Chuck your olive stones on the floor
We were having drinks with a friend who lives out here. We had been served olives with our drinks as is custom (sometimes it is crisps instead). We were sitting outside and did not know what to do with the olive stones. She said that it is custom to chuck the stones on the floor. So we did. Then she was talking to the birds as they were picking up the stones and she didn't want them to pick them up. (Not sure that they understood her!).Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Veranos de la Villa
Every summer, the City Hall of Madrid organizes a series of events such as concerts of all kind of music, theatre or ballet, normally, in the open air. Very nice indeed.
This year, from 1 July to 24 August 2.008.
For other languages:
Eating in Madrid
Before going to Madrid, I had read about Spanish people's eating habits and, coming from Canada, I was wondering how long it would take me to get used to it. As it turns out, it was much easier than I thought it would be! Here's how a typical day went: when I got up in the morning I usually had a cup of coffee and a really light breakfast (a piece of toast or some biscuits), and went to school. Break time was at around 11:00 am, and most people would eat a muffin or a croissant to tide them over until lunch time. We usually got together for lunch at around 2:00 pm, and that was the most important meal of the day. Have a good paella or cocido in the afternoon and you'll be in no hurry to have dinner! Dinner was usually at around 9:00 pm and was always really light - you don't want to eat too much before going to bed anyway.
I found that Spanish dishes in general were delicious, but not very spicy at all. Pork is extremely popular in every shape or form (especially jamon and salchichas - ham and sausages), and so are fish and seafood which unfortunately I couldn't eat. Being a vegetarian in Spain can be a bit of a challenge but it's not impossible - you'll find vegetarian dishes in almost all restaurants and tapas bars.
Buen provecho!Related to:
- Food and Dining
Some bars and cafes in Madrid organize "intercambios", a night on which people can speak Spanish and English. It really doesn't matter what your level is in either of the two languages, the idea is to practice, have fun, and meet new people! These intercambios seem to be pretty popular with the locals, but also with tourists and foreigners who happen to be living in Madrid for a while - I even met my first (and last!) fellow Canadian at one of these intercambios!
J&J Books and Coffee as well as Cafe Madrid (No. 6, Calle Mesón de Paños, Metro Opera) both have intercambio nights on Wednesdays. The one at Cafe Madrid is very popular, so popular in fact that I found the place to be a bit too crowded for my taste (I did however meet some really nice people!). J&J Books and Coffee offers a more cozy atmosphere, and as a bonus there's a book shop in the basement where you can find second-hand English books at a really good price. It's definitely worth giving it a try!
J&J Books and Coffee is located at No. 47, calle Espiritu Santo, near the Noviciado metro station. The intercambios start at around 9:00 pm.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
La Noche de los Libros (The Night of the Books)
On 23 of April, we in Spain celebrate the death of Miguel de Cervantes (Alcalá de Henares, 29 September 1.547-Madrid, 22 April 1.616). However, he was buried on 23 and it is commonly known as the day of his death. Cervantes wrote Don Quijote de la Mancha in 1.605.
On this day, 23 April, there are many activities and many bookshops, where you can get 10% discount, close at midnight.
For more about Cervantes:
- es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervantes (Spanish)
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervantes#Don_Quijote_de_la_Mancha (English)
La Hora de Comer..... Time To Eat!!
It would be irresponsible to not include a tip about eating times in Madrid.... after all, it may be different to your local customs, and could mean you miss out on some great food!
Firstly, el desayuno, breakfast is fairly non-existent as a meal here. Typically you will find:
- zumo de naranja, freshly squeezed orange juice (delicious!)
- cafe, coffee or
- chocolate caliente hot chocolate
with a tosta or churros/porras
These will be served no later than 12h00.
For lunch, things get interesting.... in fact, if you are on a budget or with an energetic trip planned, I most recommend you get to a good place to eat at this time.
Almost every eating establishment will offer a menu del día, ranging in price and quality. Basically this will be a set menu (usually with a selection) to include
- pan, bread
- vino o refresco, wine or soft drink
- 2 platos, courses
- postre, dessert and
- cafe, coffee
.....at a cost of around 80% the original price. This can be a great value and certainly a good way to eat lots when you need the energy for the day!
You will find this available from around 14h00-16h00 from Monday to Friday, and not usually at weekends. *Note that after this time you may not find a place to eat until the evening.*
Prices are around 8-12€ per person. Of course there are a few pricier restaurants, but these prices by far reflect the majority of places you will likely encounter.
Finally, para cenar, to dine in the evening.... Don´t even think about eating before 20h00..... in fact, los madrileños won´t emerge for their meal before 22h00 and arriving at a restaurant before this time may leave you feeling you´re in a ghost town! It´s certainly not a good time to judge the popularity of a place ;)
Many restaurants open from 21h00, and are often open until midnight or even later.
There is a growing list of food establishments in my tips if you are looking for ideas. I hope this guide is useful to you :)
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
August is When Madrid Takes a Break
At the height of the temperatures in Madrid each summer, agosto is the month when los madrileños traditionally take their extended breaks.... and so, much of the city will be shut down for at least 2 weeks of the month, or more.
This includes shops, restaurants, bars.... and so if you want to experience Madrid in it´s full heat but with a more subdued element, come here then.... but don´t be disappointed if you can´t go to all the places you were hoping to!!
Having said that, la vida del verano - summer life - still brings with it plenty of great outdoor activities, including outdoor piscinas - swimming pools, el cine de verano - temporary outdoor cinemas, which are often free, and a few street parties and fiestas...... especially in Lavapiés, La Latina, and el 14, agosto in Parque de Vistillas
Try to learn (some) Spanish because...
...the locals aren't too fond of speaking English. That's how I, as a native Spanish speaker, experienced it. I stand corrected. I have written some handy phrases in my Dominican Republic page.
Prices don't always include VAT
Some restaurants, shops and hotels don't always include the VAT on their prices, so be careful with this. On all 3 restaurants we ate at they had printed "Prices don't include VAT" in a very small font at the end of the pages. When checking prices, our hotel's didn't include VAT either but before confirming the online booking they showed the price with and without this tax.
VAT (IVA in Spanish) is as of now 7% in restaurants and 16% for shops.Related to:
- Budget Travel
I don't know if this is common in all of Spain, but we did have a hard time finding some places in Madrid because most of the buildings on the streets didn't have the numbers on. So after seeing maybe one, we had to count and guess our way to our destination.
Odd right? I wonder how mailmen deliver letters there :-S
standing in a line
When you are in restaurants, where you just can go to a table by yourself, the madrilènes prefer standing in a line, waiting to get the waiter show them to teir tables. It is as if madrilènes like to stand in lines. Well, we just passed the line and get the table by ourselves.
El Oso y el Madroño
Madrid’s shield is a bear and a strawberry tree. Bears were once pleni around Madrid. As the city got its own right for hunting its property this shield came into being. “madrid, a good place for hunting swine and bears.” But lot of things about the weapon are onto debate. The gender of the bear: is he male or female? And the tree, is it a strawberry tree or are there other things growing in the tree? You can find plenty of bears statuettes in Madrid, but the well-known statues is at Sol. It’s a popular meeting point for locals.
her runaway tongue
Madrilean spanish goes very fast, its hard to keep track. madrileneans love to chat and since the invertion of the mobile phone you see them everywhere chettering. Mobiles are so popular that they find it normal to take them into restaurants and continuue their callings at the dinnertable. Even when they are dinning together with other people you see them on their mobile speaking loud supported with wild gestures. you might find it rude but it happpens in the best restaurants.
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