Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid – Round 2


Knowing where to take your mom in Madrid can be tough, especially if she’s already visited you five or six times. So here’s a follow-up to my first version of this post with some fresh ideas, some favorites, and some recommendations from fellow Naked Madrid writers – and my mom, too, of course. She also helped me edit this whole piece. Thanks ma! 

Not to mention these ideas are great for any out-of-town guests. Here goes:

1. Museo del Romanticismo for an intimate art experience

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Madrid has several charming museums worth visiting, and if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate their small size. My mom and I loved Museo de Artes Decorativas and Museo Naval; but we enjoyed Museo del Romanticismo the most. Something about wandering around someone’s former mansion makes it unique, and each room tells a different story. Just stay on the grey carpet or the attendant will scold you, like she did my mom when she wanted to take a closer look at the 19th-century furnishings and art! Plus it has a wonderful tea room.

For more ideas, check out Madrid’s obvious and not-so-obvious museums (and how to get in for free!)

2. Mad Improv events for fun and laughter

Mad Improv jams at VeraContent

This was such a great discovery. My mom has been to Madrid several times over my ten years of living here, yet we never quite found the right way to spend an evening out that didn’t just involve food. Mad Improv is an English-speaking theater group that holds shows (right now on Thursdays at La Escalera de Jacob) and regular workshops and jams at VeraContent (Naked Madrid’s sister company).

Jams cost 3€ and include a first drink. Anyone is welcome to get up and join in on improv games, or you can just watch if you’re on the shyer side – understandably so, as you’ll see some pretty impressive improvisors up there. Either way, you’re going to laugh a whole lot. I promise.

Here’s a full post on Mad Improv to find out more.

3. Juana la Loca for excellent Spanish food

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Juana la Loca is an exceptional family-run restaurant in La Latina, serving Spanish food with lots of fusion and lots of love. Everything you eat here is exquisite, from the pintxos at the bar to the main dishes. I had been several times before I finally got the chance to speak to one of the family members, the son, who explained everything on the menu with such passion. Culinary arts clearly run in the family.

4. Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa for cozy and chic diningBosco de Lobos Madrid

I wanted to include a few more restaurants on this list so I asked for recommendations from Cat, one of Naked Madrid’s most active writers. With no hesitation at all, she said: “Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa are both mum pleasers!” Bosco de Lobos is situated in a beautiful courtyard of an architecture school in Chueca, and its casual-chic look immediately lures you in. Ana la Santa also has a great location, right in Plaza Santa Ana. Cat especially recommends going here when it’s cold outside, as it’s the perfect place to warm up.

Check out Cat‘s articles on Bosco de Lobos and Ana la Santa – I’d definitely take her word for it.

5. Chuka for Japanese ramen and gyozas

Chuka Ramen Bar Portada

Once you’ve had your taste of Spanish food, you shouldn’t feel bad about going to an international restaurant. Really, it’s okay. Madrid’s culinary scene is full of fusion cuisine from all over the world, and Madrileños love it. Chuka is one of our all-time favorites for ramen, gyozas and baos. And we just found out the owners are actually two Americans who have been living in Madrid for over a decade. Go figure!

Here’s a full post on Chuka. Another great restaurant nearby is L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen, offering French-Japanese fusion cuisine and a menú del día that changes daily.

6. Salmon Guru for fun cocktails

Salmon-Guru-Naked-Madrid

Before going into Chuka we had a half hour to kill so we walked down the street and got a drink at Salmon Guru. This funky bar has a great cocktail selection and truly unique decor. If we’d stayed a little longer and sampled another round, my mom thinks we might have solved the mystery of what “Salmon Guru” actually means.

Read our full post on Salmon Guru here.

7. Swinton & Grant for when you’re working

Swinton & Grant art books and coffee Naked Madrid

Coffee shops are always great places to park your mom while you’re working (or napping). If she hasn’t brought her own book with her, she’ll surely find something to read at Swinton & Grant – a café that sells art books and also has a downstairs gallery – while enjoying a cortado, a spicy ginger soda, or a beer.

Another one of my mom’s favorites, mentioned in the previous article, is Café La Libre, right by the Reina Sofia museum. She couldn’t resist going back twice on her most recent visit. And we always make a pit-stop at Desperate Literature to check out their international book selection and delightful event calendar.

8. Templo de Debod for stunning views

Templo de Debod Naked Madrid

This beautiful ancient Egyptian temple is perched on a hill providing breathtaking views of the city, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset or have a picnic. Templo de Debod is also a great place to walk to after a visit to the Royal Palace or the Cerralbo Museum which are both a hop skip away. You’ll find a free-entrance museum inside the temple – one of Mad Improv’s organizers, Summer, said her parents loved it.

9. Casa Pueblo for another cocktail

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I’ve been going to this bar since my first year in Madrid. You can bring anyone here – a date, a friend, a colleague. There’s something warm and special about Casa Pueblo that makes me keep coming back. And my mom couldn’t agree more. There’s also a small stage in the back where they regularly put on live music. 

10. The Rastro for a Sunday flea market experience

When I asked for a recommendation from Leah, she said: “My mum absolutely loves the Rastro, of course. She wants to buy everything but can’t fit it in her suitcase, but she always manages to squeeze something in like a spoon!”

Leah has been writing about and capturing the Rastro for years on her awesome blog, Madrid No Frills, and instagram accounts @rastrolife and @portaitofmadrid. Here’s her latest Rastro-inspired post: Seven eccentric museum-worthy collections found only in the Rastro

11. Shopping day in Malasaña – and a mandatory drink afterwards

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

Mojitos at Cubanismo, a rooftop bar in Malasaña

When it comes to shopping, I like getting it over with in one shot on Calle Fuencarral (which merges with Gran Vía if you want to hit all the big stores like Zara and H&M). Afterwards, there’s beer and tapas waiting for you at some of our favorite spots. I recommend going into one of the happening food markets in the area – Mercado de San Ildefonso or Mercado de San Anton – both with great outdoor seating areas.

Another amazing place for a post-shopping drink is El Paracaídas. This multi-story and multi-purpose concept store actually has two rooftops – our favorite is Cubanismo, a tropical rooftop escape!

12. Food tour for insight into Spanish bar culture and cuisine

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Another Naked Madrid writer, Melissa, recently went on the Context Tavernas and Tapas Tour in Barrio de las Letras. Melissa is a true foodie, and works as a full-time writer and translator at VeraContent, where she researches Spanish food on a daily basis. She said the culinary tour was truly insightful, and a wonderful way to better understand the history and nuances behind Spain’s delicious cuisine as you enjoy every bite.

Read Melissa’s full article on the Context Travel Tours here.

 

Don’t forget to read round one of Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid for more ideas!

You might also like: Take a Peek Inside 5 Historical Madrid Bars

Of course Madrid is full of more options that mothers will love, so please feel free to share in the comments!




Volunteer Opportunities in Madrid for Everyone


If you’re looking for ways to get involved in the Madrid community and help out – from donating clothes to teaching English in city jails – here are a few non-profit organizations recommended by international volunteers who live here. While some require long-term commitments and knowing Spanish, others can benefit from just a few hours of your time and have no language barriers.

So whether you’re new to the city or have very little spare time, there are plenty of ways to give back – even the smallest gesture can make a difference.

Casa Solidaria

While Madrid operates government-run food banks for its residents in need, there are many people who can’t take advantage of this service due to lack of paperwork. Casa Solidaria aims to fill this void, organizing volunteers who prepare food in their own homes and deliver to 150+ people in Plaza de Tirso de Molina every weekday at 8:30pm. Each person gets a hot meal, a sandwich and a piece of fruit.

One volunteer said: “For most of these people, this is their primary source of food for the day. Without this, they are at serious risk.” With no regular funding, the charitywhich also operates in Barcelona and Lleidais always always looking for volunteers and donations.

Robin Hood Restaurant

NPR

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Another noble organization feeding the hungry of Madrid is the Robin Hood restaurant on Calle Eguilaz. During the day, Robin Hood is run like a typical Spanish café. But by night, the chefs and waiting staff use the profits to feed Madrid’s most in need residents.

At this catholic charity-run eatery, the idea is to offer the homeless of Madrid not only their daily bread, but also the civility of dining at a restaurant. Father Ángel García Rodriguez told NPR, “I want them to eat with the same dignity as any other customer. And the same quality, with glasses made of crystal, not plastic, and in an atmosphere of friendship and conversation.” The restaurant is attracting the talents of celebrity chefs and staff from the city’s top hotels.

Support Robin Hood by dropping in for a bite to eatjust be sure to make a reservation first as it’s booking up months in advance.

CONCAES (Confraternidad Carcelaria Española)

CONCAES is a Madrid-based NGO that works to provide support to people affected by crime, whether they’re prisoners, victims or family members. One of their main initiatives is giving educational workshops for inmates, to provide or increase skills and help with rehabilitation. English classes are currently run in two different penitentiary centres and give inmates the opportunity to learn English, or improve their level with native teachers.

As a volunteer you are responsible for planning and leading the classes, while you are accompanied by other volunteers or coordinators. According to one volunteer, “It can be challenging at times but it is without a doubt the most rewarding thing that I’ve done since moving to Madrid. In my experience the students are very motivated and the classes have a great atmosphere. The English workshops take place on Friday mornings so it’s easy to combine with work. It can take a while between signing up and getting permission to enter the centres so this is definitely one for people who are in Madrid for more than a few months.”

Madrid for Refugees

ways to give back in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Madrid for Refugees is run by a group of international volunteers who work closely with refugee centers in the Comunidad de Madrid. Their main goal is to help refugees from all over the world to build a life for themselves here in the city, from finding housing to work. One way to support Madrid for Refugees is by attending a Chefugee event  – monthly dinners organized where the entire menu is prepared by a refugee seeking work opportunities in Madrid’s culinary scene. Other ways to get involved include donating clothes and doing language exchanges as well as running errands and being a chauffeur. You can also attend their fundraising events and concerts which are announced on the MfR Facebook page, and all benefits go to helping refugees.

Facebook & Website

Serve the City

Serve the City is an international volunteer movement that began in Brussels in 2005, and is now located in over 95 cities around the world. It aims to connect people with local opportunities and events in their cities, so they can show kindness in practical ways to people in need, including refugees, the homeless, orphans, victims of human trafficking, the disabled and the poor. Serve the City believes that even the smallest efforts can make a big difference, and we agree.

Website & Facebook

Know of any other organizations to add to this list? Let us know!




A Mini Guide: how to make the most of rainy Madrid


When the sun shines on the big city… Madrid is spectacular, especially in the sun. The authentic Spanish architecture on every building looks picturesque against a backdrop of blue skies, and even the areas coated graffiti look artistic and vibrant in a summery light. You can walk pretty much anywhere; take a stroll in El Parque Retiro; sip sangría in Plaza Mayor; visit a rooftop in almost any barrio.

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But with some Autumnal showers it can be difficult to experience Madrid to the full, so here are a few ideas to keep you busy come rain or shine…

Get even more culture in you

It goes without saying that rainy days are perfect museum days. Stay warm and dry inside beautiful exhibition rooms, and feel like you have really experienced at least a snippet of the art and culture that Madrid has to offer, even on a miserable day.

This can also be a free way to enjoy Madrid! Just as though you were wandering through tourist sites in the sun, like the grounds of Palacio Real or within Plaza Mayor, many art exhibitions in Madrid are free to the public.

To get started with art in Madrid, a true tourist or cultured expat must visit the city’s main art museums. El Museo del Prado houses Spain’s finest works ever produced, and is free from 6 to 8pm every day. La Reina Sofia boasts the breath-taking Guernica (Pablo Picasso) and four floors of thought-provoking artwork; it is free on Sunday mornings and afternoons. To get even more authentic, El Museo Taurino is Spain’s bullfighting history museum, and is free to the public every day of the week.

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For less well-known exhibitions, keep checking websites to find the best ones, as lots are exhibited for limited time periods. Photography exhibitions seem to populate the Embajadores area: La Tabacalera is home to many temporary shows for renowned Spanish photographers and artists.

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When you think of Spanish culture, you think of Flamenco. A quintessentially Spanish dance art that is both vibrant and dynamic. La Villa Rosa Flamenco is the oldest flamenco bar in the world. It opened in 1911, and has since promoted the Flamenco art with regular shows. Enjoy a class of vino in this relaxed, lively atmosphere.

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Foooooooood: cake, churros and tapas with a twist

When its rainy, chilly, or just a bleak day, we often entertain ourselves with food. I mean, eating is great at any time, but there seems to be something about a miserable day that makes you feel peckish for a tasty gastronomic experience. Luckily, any street in the centre of Madrid is largely populated by tapas bars and restaurants. But these can too often feel very same-same.

When it comes to eating tapas and savouring every single taste because you have never tasted anything quite like it before, think: LA MUSA. It’s what foodie dreams are made of. Forget your standard croquette, and think Croqueta 2.0. Forget your standard patatas bravas, and think of La Patata Bomba filled with meat and served on bread crumbs and a magical pea puree. If you are lucky enough to go to La Musa you will enjoy the fusion of Asian and Spanish cuisines in one, revolutionary tapas menu. Find La Musa in both La Latina and Malasaña.

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As well as typical Spanish bars, Madrid boasts a plethora of cool artisan cafes to choose from. Cosy up on a Central Perk style sofa with a caramel macchiato and a slice of red velvet cake. There is always a buzz running through such places, whether that be from the coffee grinder or the many chatty customers: they really seem to be a hub for expats and travellers sheltering themselves from the drizzle. Some personal favourites in Malasaña include: 

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La Bicicleta: an industrial-chic, modern and artistic café with homemade cake and great coffee. It has a work station for those with laptops, and slowly transforms throughout the day from a bustling café to lively and casual bar by night. Here, I would recommend their Chai Vanilla Latte (not many places do it Madrid!) and a slice of fluffy carrot cake. Be careful not to head there in peak hours (2-5pm) as you will struggle for a table.

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HanSo Café: a hidden gem. By hidden I mean there is literally no sign on its exterior. Inside it is pretty minimal too, with concrete walls, floor and bar area. The grey tones are contrasted with the warm low-hanging lighting, and the soft sound of music and subtle smell of sourdough toast adds some atmosphere. Fresh cakes are constantly brought out by HanSo’s friendly owners, with some postres looking colourful and fruity with an Asian twist. There is a large central table for social hipsters and a few window seats for more private coffee dates. They have a never-ending list of frappes – so you will be spoilt for choice.

When you think of Madrid in cold or rainy weather, you will warmly dream of chocolate y churros. In fact, you can kill two birds with one stone. You get your daily dose of ‘culture’ by trying typical Spanish delicacies, whilst also satisfying your chocolate cravings…

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Artesanos 1902: ‘La mejor churreria’: This churros joint stands wide and proud on Calle San Martín (between Sol and Opera), complete with twinkly fairy lights that make it all the more inviting. What better way to spend your day eating churros than in a place that has made them their speciality for over 100 years? They serve their rich chocolate accompaniment in either dark of milk flavours, and also have waffle and crêpe options just in case their mouth-watering churros don’t tickle your fancy. 

Still up high: panoramic views without getting soaked

One of Madrid’s principal attractions is the ability to take in the majestic skyline at sunset from one of its many rooftop terraces. In the rain however, this is still possible! Just find somewhere indoors that is still high up with panoramic views of the city.

miniguide to a rainy day in Madrid by Naked Madrid

To many, El Corte Ingles is just a large department store with everything you may want from furniture to fashion. But it can also be on your list of ‘things to see and do’ in Madrid. The 9th floor in Sol is a foodie hub, with many street food stands and joints offering all types of world cuisines. Called Gourmet Experience, El Corte Ingles’ 9th floor has cafes and restaurants with window tables that provide customers with an almost birds-eye view of the city. It provides a warm and dry haven to enjoy while feeling on top of the world.

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Mercado San Anton, Chueca: here you will find 4 floors of foodie market heaven, topped with a rooftop restaurant and bar. Fear not, 70% of this floor is covered to keep you dry from the rain, and you still feel as though you are high up in the city air with the ability to take in the views.

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Faro de Moncloa: a viewpoint standing tall in the heart of Madrid’s university district, Moncloa. Visitors have access to two panoramic lifts that will take them up to the 92 metres high, glass viewing room. Although yes, a view so high of Madrid would probably look better on a sunnier day, it’s still a tourist activity that grants a breath-taking view sheltered from rain or wind.

By night: secret gardens and sandy beaches 

A problem with rain is that you can’t access a sandy beach or an enchanted forest without getting soaked. That’s where Madrid’s bohemian and artistic student area, Malasaña comes in handy.

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El Jardín Secreto: a bar disguised by indoor plants, trees, fairy-lights, unicorn heads, bird cages and swinging princess-style chairs. For a simple cocktail with friends, you can enter this enchanted world and keep dry from the rain. It’s most definitely Instagram worthy: you won’t be able to keep your eyes from gazing around the room at all the Midsummer-Night’s-Dream-style décor.

best brunch in Madrid by Naked Madrid

Ojalá: a tastefully decorated cocktail bar and eatery upstairs, and a sandy beach downstairs. I don’t know who came up with the idea to create an indoor beach bar, but it’s genius. Relax on their floor level seating whilst running your hand through the sand and enjoying a nice copa, cocktail or milkshake. Who says Madrid doesn’t have any beaches?!

So here you have it: just my personal selection of the endless activities available in this amazing city, during rainier weather. Other indoor pursuits include Madrid’s many cinemas and theatres, but the list could go on forever.

It is often way too easy to opt for a day in bed watching Netflix when the weather gets miserable, but that’s no fun is it? You may be able to take advantage of Madrid’s frequently fine weather and stunning outdoor spaces most of the time, but rainy weather brings with it the chance to discover quirky bars and cafes, taste amazing food and appreciate Spanish art in all its glory. Enjoy!

By Rosie Dowsing

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Madrid with Kids! – Tips from a Mom


Whether you’re planning a trip to Madrid or a long-time resident looking for new ideas, Madrid is full of great options to keep your little ones entertained.

You might also like my article on workout tips for moms in Madrid.

Parks

Madrid is home to several great parks that offer lots of fun activities.

keep fit madrid by Naked Madrid

Madrid Rio: Why not go for a run with your baby along the park lining the Manzanares River? Parents running with a jogging stroller in Spain used to get a lot of odd stares. The running boom has changed all that and made jogging strollers a trend that’s here to stay. Get yours at Baby Running – an online store with top-of-the-line sport strollers.

Casa de Campo:  Casa de Campo is a huge park housing the amusement park, zoo aquarium with more than 6,000 animals, and a scenic lake with outdoor cafes and boats for rent. If you’d like to avoid traffic jams and screaming kids on the metro, try the cable car for a scenic view of Madrid along the way. You may want to make sure you are out of the park before it gets dark as escorts tend to make their appearance later in the day.

Retiro: Look for a puppet show at the outdoor theatre on weekends and enjoy the many other street performers surrounding the pond at the center of the park. You can also rent row boats if you’re feeling confident in your deltoids, or sit back and relax on the solar boat. If you are looking to get some exercise, Diverbikes across from the O’Donnell entrance rents all different kinds of bikes, and surreys.  Rain driving you and your kids up the wall? Check out the second floor of the library in the park for a space dedicated to babies and children.

Theme parks and zoos

In addition to the amusement park and zoo aquarium in Casa de Campo, your children will also love seeing the animals at Faunia in Valdebernardo. Visitors can interact with cage-free animals, and even feed them. The manatee exhibit and petting zoo tend to be a big hit.

If you have a car, the 30 kilometer drive to Warner Theme Park is the worth the trip. With five different park areas, including Hollywood Boulevard, Superheroes World, Cartoon Village, the Old West and WB Movie World Studios, there are plenty of options to keep everyone in your family happy. Younger kids will love seeing Batman, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Superman while older kids and parents check out the latest roller coasters, log fumes and rapid rivers.

You also have the largest water park in Europe about 15 minutes from Madrid in Villanueva de la Cañada. Aquópolis can get very packed during the peak season so you may be better off going to one of Madrid’s outdoor pools on hot summer weekends.

Summer pool by UCM

Summer pool by UCM

Sports fans

Kids dreaming of becoming the next Cristiano Ronaldo will forever thank you for taking them to the tour of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Mini Real Madrid fans will be in heaven as they visit the players’ locker room, the President’s Balcony and even sit on the players’ bench.

Little ones hoping to join Cholo’s squad will love seeing the Atlético de Madrid Museum. Atlético fans will adore looking at the trophies, memorabilia and collection of shoes and balls dating back to 1903.

Kid-friendly museums

If your kids hear the word “museum” and start to groan, several museums in Madrid could change all that.

The Wax Museum has over 450 figures including Harry Potter, Snow White, The Simpsons and Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings”. Look online for special discounts for families.

The Madrid Railway Museum contains a selection of 19th century trains, related exhibits and a wide range of family friendly activities. Take a break afterwards and have a snack in the café located in a 1930s carriage. In Spring and Fall you can also take a ride to Aranjuez on an old-fashioned train, the Strawberry Train (Tren de la Fresa).

Madrid’s Planetarium lets little explorers observe other galaxies, planets, stars and black holes. Children’s workshops are also available for Spanish-speaking little ones.

With huge dinosaur skeletons and weekend workshops for children, the National Museum of Natural Sciences is another good option for families.

Theatre and concerts for babies and kids

Madrid offers a wide range of theatre and concerts designed for babies and children. The bill is constantly changing so check BabyTribu and Sapos y Princesas for the latest options.

Other ideas

Older kids who are into go-carts will love the Carlos Sainz Center in Madrid and Las Rozas.

Little ones may enjoy visiting The Casa Museo del Ratoncito Pérez – the Spanish version of the tooth fairy. The hours change so check their website before going.

Located inside the Kinépolis movie theatre, The Magic Forest is a children’s park with slides, climbing trees and mazes.

Nearly every neighborhood in Madrid has a play center (ludoteca). Find the one closest to you here.

By Marybeth Redheffer

Marybeth is the founder of Baby Running, an online store selling sport strollers so you can stay fit with the little ones in the city! Check out her website and facebook.

You might also like: Workout tips for moms in Madrid!




Workout Tips for Moms in Madrid!


If you are a former gym buff wondering how you can get some exercise that doesn’t involve changing diapers or pushing a swing, fear not! Your workout days don’t have to be over.

Also check out my previous article on great child-friendly activities in Madrid!

Madrid by Neighborhood by Naked Madrid Retiro Park

Yoga

Mom and baby yoga is a great way to get out of the house, recover strength and flexibility and spend time with your baby. Most yoga classes go from 6 weeks until the baby starts crawling. Check out the Mom and Baby yoga classes at Centro El Patio near the Bilbao metro stop and Zentro Yoga close to the Retiro on Calle Claudio Coello.

Yoga for families is another good option for toddlers and children (the age requirement varies from center to center). City Yoga offers classes for parents and toddlers from 1-3 years and Centro Infantil Nariz Roja starts at 4 years.

Gyms with daycare

Unfortunately gyms with daycare are few and far between in Madrid. Why deep-pocketed entrepreneurs aren’t investing in gyms with daycare remains a mystery. If you are lucky enough to live near one of the gyms that offer daycare, be sure to ask the minimum age before going. Some won’t take babies or toddlers.

Try Baby Running

Going for a run with your baby or toddler is probably the most convenient way to get some exercise. Just make sure you have a proper jogging stroller – you don’t want to hurt your little one in the process!  If you’re tight on space, opt for a model that can go from swivel to fixed wheel and it can also serve as your everyday stroller. Check out Baby Running for a selection of top-rated sport strollers.

Try Baby Blading

If rollerblading is your thing, the BOB Revolution PRO is the first stroller to be certified for rollerblading. Get yours here.

Rent bikes

Places to rent bicycles are popping up all over the city. Go for a bike ride with your kids in a nearby park, or if you live in the center, the Paseo del Prado is closed for cars from 9AM-4PM on Sundays. Located across from the O’Donnell entrance to the Retiro, Diverbikes is also a fun way for the whole family to get some exercise.

MamiFit classes

MamiFit classes are designed to help new moms in their postpartum recovery, with an emphasis on hypopressive exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and core. The best part is that you can bring your baby, a few of his or her favorite toys and get in a workout (if your baby cooperates☺).

Go swimming

Take your children for a swim at one of the many indoor and outdoor public pools. If your little ones could use some help learning to swim, some pools offer swimming lessons. Take advantage of class time to do some laps yourself!

YouTube

Ignore your to-do list and use nap time to release some endorphins doing exercise at home. There are tons of good full-length exercise videos on YouTube. Some favorites are All Around Fitness and Body Rock.

 

By Marybeth Redheffer

Marybeth is the founder of Baby Running, an online store selling sport strollers so you can go out for a run with the little one in the city! Check out her website and facebook.

You might also like: Madrid with kids – tips from a mom!




The Rogues Gallery part 1: 4 Recurring creepers you may encounter in Madrid


The Auxiliares de Conversacion en Madrid group on facebook is a hub where the 10,000+ (of past, present and future) members of the expatriate community congregate online to share advice, refer clients to one another, or collaborate on creative projects. It’s not uncommon to see the occasional rant about the failings of Spanish bureaucracy, nor is it uncommon to read a thread of comments stemming from ruckus caused by provocative trolls. Community members can recommend establishments that they hold dear, or warn each other about the programs, academies and individuals that they’ve deemed exploitative an untrustworthy. Group members have shared their experiences with some of Madrid’s more noticeably curious characters.

Below is information that I have gathered about these usual Madrid suspects.

1) The Birthday Boy

The modus operandi of the Birthday Boy is neither creative nor is it subtle. This shadowy figure prowls tusclasesparticulares.com in search of English and Italian lessons. Upon contacting female teachers he insists on having the class at night and on his birthday after confiding in them that he is a new arrival to Madrid and is responsible for taking care of his sick father. The Birthday Boy claims to be lonely as he has no friends to celebrate his birthday with. He calls the women he preys on at unseemly hours, fixated on arranging the class at the rendezvous point of the Estatua del Oso y Madroño in Sol. Countless women have come forward on the Auxiliares group to warn our community about his unnerving behavior. What remains baffling to me is that the Birthday Boy continues to use the same story and schtick despite it being what makes him immediately recognizable. One can only speculate about his motivations and backstory. Perhaps he truly is cripplingly lonely, has a sick father, and was magically frozen in time to believe that each day is the anniversary of his birth.

2) Marta the blotchy-faced bandit

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Marta, a parasitic criminal who can be identified by a blotchy mark on her face, responds to apartment listings on idealista in order to subtly steal whatever she can upon the viewing. She has been active for years and clearly makes a living this way. This woman has been reported to the police countless times and is apparently well known to them as a career criminal. Upon hearing her description I initially theorized that the blotch pattern that is the defining feature of her face was applied with stage make-up, in order to make it harder for the authorities to identify her. I gave her too much credit, my theory was disproven when one of her victims encountered her in the street months after the crime, and unless she was coming directly from a job, her face is indeed her face. Whether the pattern is a birthmark or battle scar is yet to be revealed. It appalls me that she continues to elude capture despite being both easily recognizable and a known threat. A member of our community, who is the real MVP, managed to take her picture when she entered his home upon realizing who she was. If she attempts to enter your home under the guise of a flat-viewing my advice is to slam the door in her face and tell her “ya sé quien eres.”

3) The Note Man

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The Note Man is a quirky absurdity. He operates out of Malasaña, but has been sighted in all parts of the city. He can be recognized by his Dumbledoresque beard and tattered clothing. He is known to approach people and present them with hand-written notes. Although I have never engaged him myself I have observed him perform his gimmick from a distance in Plaza dos de Mayo and have taken a picture of him in action. My friends Diana and Sean once wandered into the Note Man’s path and he shadily handed them a menacing note that said “DON’T RUN”. His origins and motivations are an enigma. It is unknown if he simply prefers nonverbal communication or if he is incapable of speech. Approach with caution.

4) La Cabra de Plaza Mayor

la-cabra-de-la-plaza-mayor_4805

The “goat” of Plaza Mayor startled me when I first visited Madrid as a tourist in 2008. I was not surprised to see that it remained active when I returned in 2012. I can’t imagine Plaza Mayor without this shiny-bodied, wooden-faced, goat creature. The cabra is a parasite that envelopes a human host. It screeches to attract attention to itself in the hopes that passersby will give it their loose change . What does this goat-human creature spend its money on? What becomes of its host? Does it produce shiny cheese? How does it reproduce? These valid questions to be answered upon further research.

Any other people to beware of in Madrid? 




Where to Take Your Mom in Madrid – Part 1


Wondering where to take your mother when she comes to visit you in Madrid? Here’s a list of places (aside from the Prado and the Royal Palace) that are all hand-picked, tested and approved, if not by me then by my friends. All these ideas have definitely worked – and not just for my mom, but for a lot of out-of-town guests and other family members, too. Here goes!

1. Madrid Food Tour, for a culinary experience full of insight

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

I can’t recommend this tour enough. The guys at Madrid Food Tour are young and passionate about the city’s food culture and history. They offer a variety of tours that take you through the city’s most authentic neighborhood markets, tapas bars and restaurants. Plus you get to walk around the city while the tour guides give you insights into Madrid’s history. I went on the market tour and wrote about it in a previous post. But you can check out all the tours here and then choose the one that appeals to you most! The tours are given in English and can be personalized if you have particular food preferences or needs. Just ask them! Another note – I recommend starting out the trip with this tour so your mom can get a better feel for the city and its gastronomic offerings.

2. Bar Lambuzo, a family-run Andalusian restaurant

Lambuzo

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Madrid. What makes Lambuzo perfect is that it is an authentic, Andalucían-style taverna in the heart of Madrid, run by a whole family, and each member has his or her role. For example, you’ll find Pepe, the father, working the front and Luis, one of the sons, working the bar. They specialize in food from the South of Spain, so get ready for a variety of fried fish, rice dishes and other delicious treats. Lambuzo now has two locations, although my favorite is the one near Opera, which you can read more about in my previous post here.

3. Museums, Museo Sorolla & Thyssen in particular

Reina Sofia Museum by Naked Madrid

My mother has been to the Prado and Reina Sofia twice now and although they’re of course worth visiting, she actually preferred the Thyssen (so did my brother and sisters) and Sorolla museums. While the Thyssen’s collection is considered one of the best in the world, the Sorolla’s is less expected – it is in the painter’s former home and houses an outstanding collection of pieces that you can see as you walk through the charming rooms. Here’s a post on all of Madrid’s obvious and not-so-obvious arts institutions (plus how to get in for free) so you can add more to your list.

4. El Matadero & Madrid Río, for an off-the-beaten-path experience

image from www.madrid.es

I always jump at the chance to take friends and family to this place. A former slaughterhouse turned cultural center, El Matadero is a must for anyone into contemporary art and cultural activities. It is a huge space with different warehouses, each dedicated to their own type of art. For example, there’s the theatre nave, the reading nave and the music nave, among many others. The Matadero also holds wonderful farmers’ markets with local products and food trucks, as well as live music and activities for the little ones. It’s also situated along Madrid’s river so if the weather is nice, I recommend taking a stroll afterwards or even hopping on a bike.

5. Casa Mingo, an old-school Asturian cider house

casa mingo by Naked Madrid

I have too many good memories of Casa Mingo, a century-old Asturian restaurant serving roasted chicken and cider by the bottle. Please take your mother here if she likes the good-old kind of restaurant that cannot be imitated no matter how hard you try. This is the real deal (plus it’s incredibly cheap!) Here’s a previous post I wrote on it.

6. Food markets, not just Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Ildefonso by Naked Madrid, Madrid's best food market on calle Fuencarral

Madrid has a thriving indoor and outdoor market culture. My mother’s first experience with Madrid’s market scene was Mercado de San Miguel, naturally. While I do suggest taking your mom there, don’t forget about Madrid’s other markets. On my mom’s most recent visit, we went to Mercado del San Ildefonso in Malasaña and she was stunned by the architecture, vibrant food scene and open-air seating areas. Then there’s Mercado de San Antón in Chueca which is never a bad idea for its gourmet food stands and amazing rooftop bar (check out other rooftop bars here). Plus, virtually every weekend there’s an outdoor market (aside from the Rastro) and food festival in Madrid. Some of my suggestions are Madreat, Mercado de Productores and Mercado de Motores. 

8. Desperate Literature, a charming international bookstore

Desperate LIterature, international used book store in Madrid by Naked Madrid

My mom adored this place, mainly because the owner, Craig, gave her a glass of whisky to drink as she browsed through the paperbacks and hardcovers, used and new. There’s more to the story, though. Desperate Literature was opened in Madrid about a year ago by the guys who run a very special international bookstore in Santorini, Greece, where my mother had actually visited and my sister had previously worked for a summer. Maybe it’s the music, the high quality book selection or the people from all over the world who run Desperate Literature with such care and love, or maybe it’s because it’s nestled in between the streets that bring you to Madrid’s Royal Palace and Opera House…. I guess it just has that je ne sais quoi. And if your mom is an avid reader, she’ll get to donate the book she finished reading on her flight to Madrid and find herself a new one for the trip home! Here’s a full post on Desperate Literature.

9. Toni 2 or Bar Cock, for cocktails and more…

Tony 2 Madrid Piano Bar by Naked Madrid & Las Mesas de Vanessa

If you’re wondering where to get a drink late at night, you can try Toni 2, a sort of piano bar mostly for patrons of a “certain age” – only the classics are sung here, accompanied by a live pianist. It’s an old-fashioned kind of bar with an extra long grand piano in the center (here’s a full article on Toni 2). If your mother isn’t so into the vintage karaoke scene, then I’d definitely recommend getting a cocktail at Bar Cock, another beautiful old-fashioned bar off the Gran Vía. The only time I went here, Harrison Ford was there! Also, across the street from Bar Cock is La Barraca, the restaurant mentioned next.

10. La Barraca, for paella and other Valencian dishes

La Barraca, an upscale Valencian restaurant in downtown Madrid by Naked Madrid

I’ve been asked a lot about where to get paella in Madrid and never knew what to say, until recently. One of Madrid’s most active writers, Dan Catalan, just discovered a place that his grandmother took him to in Madrid. It’s a Valencian restaurant located in the city center called La Barraca, which specializes in rice and seafood dishes like paella, which he says is definitely mother-worthy. Just note that this restaurant is on the pricey side – maybe you’ll take your mom here, but she’ll have to pick up the tab… Check out Dan’s post here.

11. Rooftop bars, like Casa Granada or Mercado de San Anton

Mercado de San Anton by Naked Madrid

Madrid has an impressive number of rooftop bars and we’ve written about 20 or so in our 4-part series. If I had to recommend just a few, I’d say Palacio de Cibeles and Circulo de Bellas Artes for stunning views, and then Casa Granada and Mercado de San Anton for great food and ambience. My mom loved Casa Granada back when it was in such desperate need of renovation that we actually felt our chairs were going to slip off the roof. It’s since been refurbished so you’ll still get the dining experience, just without the fear… 

12. La Cava Baja, for “tapas bar” hopping

l Tempranillo wine bar Madrid, La Latina

Lined with tapas bars and restaurants, La Cava Baja is the most happening street in La Latina. The first time I walked along it with my mother was during winter and it was very foggy outside. She said it looked like a fairy tale – as if a knight on a horse was going to appear riding through the mist. Even on a clear day, La Latina is a must if your mother (like mine) enjoys going into Madrid’s charming little bars and walking through the area’s old and windy streets. For specific recommendations on bars in La Latina, check out this article: Coziest Wine Bars in La Latina (with gluten free options!)

13. Flamenco, when in Spain…

I personally can’t recommend any particular flamenco performance in Madrid, but if you think your mother would enjoy experiencing a tablao, our friends at Madrid Food Tour have compiled this list of Where to See Flamenco in Madrid and we trust them.

14. A nearby town, beyond Toledo

el escorial monastery by Naked Madrid

My mom went on a guided tour of Toledo a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it so much because she didn’t get to “roam around freely” as much as she would have liked. So while I’m not against taking a tour, I do think you should make sure to have enough time to wander around and explore the nooks and crannies of wherever you go. I’ve taken my mom on a number of day trips around Madrid and her favorite was when we drove to Segovia and El Escorial in one day. If you can get your hands on a car, I highly recommend it. You can also check out our article on Madrid’s 10 most beautiful surrounding towns which all link to a description, map and transport details.

15. Pepe Botella & Plaza del Dos de Mayo, for coffee and tea

Pepe Botella, best cafe in Madrid

Pepe Botella has long been my favorite café in Madrid, as anyone who’s ever visited me will already know. Its ambience, location and simple drink menu has always set it apart from the rest of Madrid’s cafés, for me at least. I recommend going here either before or after lunch and sitting with a book or a newspaper, or just chatting away. When I go in the afternoon, I like starting with a coffee or tea, and then welcoming in the evening with a glass of wine. Here’s a full post on Pepe Botella.

Any other suggestions? We’ll be coming out with a part 2 so all recommendations are more than welcome!

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Stunning Local Olive Grove Tour, in English! – Proyecto Los Aires


In 2013, biologists Guillermo and Laura – Spain’s newest generation of olive farmers – took over the family business and embarked on an innovative mission: to connect the local countryside with the city of Madrid and make farming a sustainable way of life once again.

How it all started:

Over a century ago, in a small town in the region of Toledo, Guillermo’s great grandfather planted his first grove of around 200 olive trees, and between the evenly spaced olive saplings grew rows of sun-drenched grapevines.

A hundred odd years later, only the footprints of the old vines are visible, but the olive trees have grown beautifully gnarled and twisted, with silver miniature leaves and shiny hard fruit, ready for the annual harvest of some of the tastiest organic extra virgin olive oil in Spain.

The centenarian olive trees

Guillermo and Laura’s story:

Olive farming has been in both of their families for generations, inspiring them to study biology at university, which is where they met. From early on, they drew sketches on scraps of paper illustrating grand ambitions to re-bond our booming capital with its rural backyard, enthusiastically telling anyone who will listen about the genius that is the organic farming ecosystem (it’s genius).

By mid 2014, their dream had gathered enough steam for them to quit their jobs and make Proyecto Los Aires their life, and for being in the midst of an economic depression, it’s incredible how much they’ve already achieved.

The tour:

On Saturday, we headed out to their stunning olive grove in Arcicóllar, about an hour south of Madrid. When we arrived, we met up with our fellow tour buddies and set off on our educational meander through the olive trees.

Guillermo and Laura led us around their oldest plot and explained the process of creating olive oil: from planting and harvesting to filtering and bottling. Their scientific angle on the entire practice is fascinating, but I won’t say any more – the oohs and aahs are all part of the fun!

The walking tour begins

Taking a closer look at the trees

After the walking tour (and tanning opportunity), we sat down at a shaded table nestled idyllically among the centenarian trees. It was time for the tasting. This involved professionally sampling several olive oils in little blue glass cups, and learning how to tell the difference between generic supermarket oil and top-quality organic oil such as theirs.

And then came the food and wine. Through local connections and friends and family, Guillermo and Laura brought together a plethora of Iberian foodie gems for us to eat. A mercado on a table came to mind, and our tour companions’ similarly delighted reactions included lots of “mmm”s and “oh my God”s and jokey squabbles over who liked the pumpkin morcilla most. We chatted, talking about Guillermo and Laura’s endeavours as well as our own, then gratefully accepted Guillermo’s offer of a top-up of wine to accompany our final wander through the trees (and take a few grove-selfies). Finally, we had the opportunity to buy some of the delicious products we tasted that day.

The tasting (and eating and drinking)

The quaintest little market stall in the world

After an eye-opening and mouth-watering experience, we said our goodbyes to the lovely Guillermo and Laura and hopped on the bus back to Madrid, desperate to get the word out to you!

The project explained:

Proyecto Los Aires aims to promote local agriculture by running educational tours & tastings on their farm and forging a direct link between urban consumers and the rural economy. Their oil (Los Aires Extra Virgin Olive Oil) can be found in gourmet shops such as Oleoteca Murúa at Mercado San Antón. Guillermo and Laura also regularly sell their oil in markets across Madrid such as Mercado de Motores, Mercado Central de Diseño, Nómada Market and Gastro Market. Next time you’re there, go and say hello!

Los Aires olive groves

How to get there:

The meeting point for the tour is the bus stop in the town of Arcicóllar (see location here). Regular buses (see timetable here) will get you there from Madrid’s Méndez Alvaro bus station in just over an hour. If you’re driving, it takes around 50 minutes from central Madrid.

Details & Contact Info:

Tours run year-round on any day of the week or weekend and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.

Facebook & Web

The website is in English and Spanish! For more information about the tour, pricing, and to book, click here.




Ostras! Spanish Food Phrases for Aspiring Natives


Want to sound like a true madrileño/a?  Then you’d better learn about food.

When foreigners first arrive in Madrid, eavesdropping can confuse.  Why is everyone talking about milk? What do politicians have to do with cured sausages? Why do my students shout “oysters!”?

The answers lie somewhere in Madrid’s food culture.

All things Madrid revolve around food.  Work, school, family, and free time all have their feet firmly planted in gastronomy. Veteran Auxiliares not-so-fondly remember that first day home from school. Bewildered that Spaniards go 8 hours between desayuno and comida, you greedily shove muesli, bread, and ham into your starving jaws—a cruel introduction into how Spaniards think of food.

Spanish Expressions by Rodmell House and Naked Madrid

Other mealtime nuances scream “welcome to Madrid!”  No, you can’t find a good lunch before 1PM, or any food except cold tapas and coffee between the hours of 4PM and 7PM.  Half of the reason for eating cocido is for the next day’s ropa vieja—always made best by someone’s abuelita, who fusses over you and asks why you don’t want another glass of wine at 3PM during your sobremesa.  Sharing churros con chocolate with your friends at dawn after a night of discotecas is a rite of passage into la vida castiza.

Madrileños have always loved food, and their language is no exception. Madrid’s people garnish, pepper, and marinate their speech with food phrases.  From idioms to exclamations, residents of Madrid use food and food words to discuss politics, time, emotion, death, and much more.

So, here is my guide for the aspiring hispanophone to some of Madrid’s best food phrases.  You will see the usual (I’m convinced that oblong vegetables in any language are always sexual) and the not-so-usual (playground bullies “give you milk” while they take your milk money).  And all will help you spout the foodie Spanish of a proper Madrid resident.

We’ll stick to a typical Madrid diet: a mountain of bread, a hunk of meat and seafood, good eggs, milk & dairy, a glug of booze, and a small side of greenery and citrus.

 

Bread

Al pan, pan, y al vino, vino

Quick-marts have plenty of idioms for the curious linguist.

Quick-marts have plenty of idioms for the curious linguist.

Let’s start with two of Madrid’s favorites: bread and wine.  For these two cornerstones of Spanish food, madrileños would appreciate you to be direct—the meaning of this particular phrase.  “Al pan, pan, y al vino, vino” (“To bread, bread, and to wine, wine”) is a request to be direct.  Using this phrase means you want someone else to call it like it is.  Don’t beat around the bush and talk in circles—call your bread “bread!”

Hostia

Speaking of bread and wine, Madrid’s food phrase dictionary deserves an entire page to Communion bread (la hostia).  The supposed body of Christ can mean anything from a grave insult to a killer descriptor.  Simply shouting “hostia!” (if you’re surprised, or you just smashed your toe on a sofa, or Sunday’s El Clásico is not going your way) is kosher between friends or younger people, but many madrileños may take offense.  To describe something as great or large, try de la hostia.  After a night of a few too many, you may hear “Hostia!  Tengo un melocotón de la hostia!” (see “Fruit & Vegetables” to know why).

Con las manos en la masa

Even the beginnings of bread are not sacred from Spanish turns of phrase.  To see someone “con las manos en la masa” (“with their hands in the dough”) is to catch them red-handed.  Did you just see Jesús cheating on his exam for the hundredth time?  His hands were in the dough!

Estar empanado/a

Pecados argentinos en Plaza de Cascorro by Naked Madrid

This one is a great image.  To describe the time when someone’s brain isn’t operating at full capacity, a madrileño will say “estoy empanado” (“I am breaded”).  Whether that person needs a coffee, is distracted, or simply doesn’t want to focus, their brain is battered.

Un churro

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

While these fried chunks of bread and sugar are usually excellent, using “churro” to describe something else means that it lacks quality. For example, you may hear one of your students complaining “he hecho un churro en ese examen” (“I made a churro on that exam”), meaning he or she utterly failed.

Esto es pan comido

Is something incredibly easy?  Then you may hear a Madrid resident exclaim “esto es pan comido” (“this is eaten bread”).  English speakers aren’t too far off from their “piece of cake” or “easy as pie” with this one.  Practice these phrases enough, and they’ll be like eaten bread.

 

Meat

Beautiful people and corrupt politicians

Beautiful people and corrupt politicians.

Estirar la pata

Are there things you want to do before you go into the great beyond?  Is someone going to croak?  Kicking the bucket?  Well, in Madrid, death is like a slaughtered animal—they lie you down, do the job, and then you “estirar la pata” (“stretch out the hoof”).

Jamón

Madrid and pork go together, and so do Madrid Spanish and pork products.  After seeing someone attractive across the room, you may hear them described as “el/ella está jamon” (“he/she is ham”).  If you refuse to do something, shout “Y un jamón con chorreras” (“Ham with frills!”) to show your disgust.

Chorizo

Pork sausage gets a special mention.  While usually a spicy, smoky treat, the word chorizo also means “thief.”  A carterista (“pickpocket”) may be described with “qué chorizo!” (“what a sausage!”).  Sausage also extends to politics—protestors love the phrase “no hay pan para tanto chorizo” (“there isn’t bread for all this sausage”) to describe corrupt politicians.

Poner toda la carne en el asador

If you’re taking a huge risk, then you are putting all your meat on the grill (“poner toda la carne en el asador”).  Best used at gambling halls, or literally when at a barbeque.

 

Seafood

Sure it's on sale, but who's cutting it?

Sure it’s on sale, but who’s cutting it?

Ostras!

The quintessential exclamation of Madrid, outside of joder!  My guess is that “oysters!” (“ostras!”) is a tamed-down version of “hostia.” Akin to the English “darn” and “damn,” just more nautical.

¿Quien corta el bacalao?

A phrase asked of mafia bosses is “who cuts the cod?” (“¿quien corta el bacalao?”).  While seemingly random, the phrase has its origins in industrial traditions; in the comidas of old Madrid, guild masters and supervisors were the ones who served fish to their underlings.  Whoever was at the head of the table carving the filet was the big boss.

Me siento como un pulpo en un garaje

Feeling out of place?  Like a fish out of water?  Then say that you “feel like an octopus in a garage” (“te sientes como un pulpo en un garaje”) for the authentic Madrid vibe.

 

Eggs

You're worth a lot!

You’re worth a lot!

Tener huevos

Aside from the obvious connection between eggs and rounded male genitalia, madrileños will also shout “la cosa tiene huevos” (“the thing has eggs”) if something does not work properly.  Did your blender just start to spark and smoke?  It has eggs.

Pisando huevos

Like any big city, Madrid’s day to day life can be pretty fast-paced.  And, like any big city, you will come across people on the sidewalk who are simply walking too slow.  While you dodge tourists to get around them, you can mutter that they are “pisando huevos” (walking [on] eggs).

Te quiero un huevo

Are you crazy about your significant other?  Then you “love them an egg” (“querer un huevo”).  It’s because “un huevo” can mean “a lot.” Don’t ask.  Just say it.

Hasta luego, cara huevo

If you want to sound cutesy, try the Spanish version of “see you later, alligator”: “until later, egg face” (“hasta luego, cara huevo”).  It makes about as much sense.

 

Milk and Cheese

Bags have this stuff printed on them.

Bags have this stuff printed on them.

Ser la leche

If “hostia” deserves its own page in Madrid’s food dictionary, milk merits its own chapter.  As an opaque white liquid, milk has its sexual euphemisms.  But, if something “is the milk,” it’s quite awesome.  If everything’s going your way, try “hoy ha sido la leche” (“today has been the milk”).

Estar de mala leche

Milk is good, but all milk will go bad.  In this case, Madrid speakers say someone “está de mala leche” (“is of bad milk”) when they’re grumpy.  Chronic/permanent sufferers of bad milk “tienen mala leche” (“have bad milk”) in their systems.

Me cago en la leche

By itself, “I crap in the milk” (“me cago en la leche”) can be a general exclamation of disappointment or anger.  But, in conversation, it can hold all the hatred and disgust that a bowl of milky waste can possess.  Save this one for when you mean it: “me cago en la leche de la puta que te date la luz/la puta madre que te parió” (“I crap in the milk of the whore mother that birthed you”).

Ir a toda leche

When someone is “going full milk” (“ir a toda leche”), they are running full out.  Full milk’s opposite would be “pisando huevos” (see “Eggs”).

Dar una leche

When someone smacks or hits you, they “give you milk” (“te da leche”).

Que no me lo des con queso

A bit of gastronomy trivia: very high quality wine is enjoyed by itself.  For the snobby, consuming cheese with wine ruins the experience of both; the fats from the cheese coat the inside of your mouth, limiting how much you can taste the wine.  As such, madrileños shrewdly ask “que no me lo des con queso” (“don’t give it to me with cheese”) to tell someone to stop ripping them off.  It’s to help avoid life’s various glasses of tintorro (see “Alcohol”).

Blanco y en botella? Leche

Do you want to say that something’s obvious?  As obvious as something that’s white and in a bottle (“blanco y en botella”)?  Then try this phrase.  Duh.

 

Alcohol

Naif by Pablo Arias for Naked Madrid

Botellón

Stay in Madrid for more than an afternoon, and you will have learned botellón.  Part hang-out, part pre-game, part illegal, Madrid’s party crowd gather in public spaces to drink “a big bottle” (“botellón”), usually of tinto de verano (red wine and fruit soda), calimocho (red wine and Coca-Cola),  beer, or something harder.  Controversial yet characteristic.

Garrafón

Some people swear that some bars will “give it to you with cheese” by filling their empty bottles of fancy liquor with trashy, bottom-shelf spirits.  These liquors, the ones that melt your brain and lead to the worst resacas you’ve ever had, are called “gas cans” (“garrafones”).

Tintorro

There is the good stuff, and then the not-so-good stuff.  The wine equivalent of a garrafón.  Usually used to make calimocho during a botellón.

 

Fruits & Vegetables

Madrid Food Tour Harvest and Market Tour by Naked Madrid

Ajo y Agua

The Hispanic world likes optimistic phrases.  Some choose “no pasa nada” (“nothing happens”).  Others choose “resolver”(“determine”).  Some madrileños go for the vulgar: “garlic and water” (“ajo y agua”), a shortening of ajoderse (“to f*ck yourself”) and aguantarse (to suck it up).  A nice message wrapped in a bitter casing.

Campo de nabos

What did I say about oblong vegetables?  A “turnip field” (“campo de nabos”) is a “sausage fest”—a party with only men.  You understand the image.

Melocotón

If you “have a peach” (“tienes un melocotón”), you have a hangover.  An alternative is cebollón (“big onion”), meaning the same thing.  Who knew having produce meant you had one too many last night?

De uvas a peras

There’s someone you get along with really well, but you only see him/her once a year or so.  What we’d call “once in a blue moon” in English changes to “from grapes to pears” (“de uvas a peras”) in Madrid Spanish.  The expression comes from the agriculture—vintners harvest grapes in September, and farmers pick their pear orchards in August.  If counting from grapes to pears, there’s nearly a full year before you’ll see that person again.

 

Want to learn more Spanish expressions? Check out sister blog called Rodmell House, here!

Also check out Madrid Food Tour’s post — 5 Spanish Food Idioms and How to Use Them!




3 Best Hotel & Restaurants in Madrid: Barrio de las Letras (Huertas)


Somewhere in the U.S., in a place whose name I do not care to remember, I found myself sleeping in a motel surrounded by gangs, in a room where the sheets hadn’t been washed in a while and you could imagine picking up any sort of illness from the bathroom. A few years later, the story happened again, but this time back in Europe. Since then, every time I travel, I like to check out the best hotels on Trip Advisor and read the comments thoroughly before booking a room.

Here in Madrid, you’ve got plenty of fantastic and affordable hotels to choose from, which is why we’re breaking this list down by neighborhood. So, what do we look for in the perfect hotel? One, its location. Two, extra fun; those that boast rooftop barsgreat restaurants or free walking tours. And three, if we’d personally want to stay here and recommend it to our friends and family.

3 Best Places to Stay in Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras (Huertas)

We’re starting this series in Barrio de las Letras, a central neighborhood named after the many famous Spanish writers who once lived here. This vibrant neighborhood offers tons of fun bars and restaurants, and is located close to the city’s main attractions such as Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor and Paseo del Prado, along which you’ll find the city’s finest museums. It’s also very accessible by metro, near the city’s main train station, Atocha, and the airport shuttle bus.

Learn more about the neighborhood in our quick guide: Madrid barrio overview 

*All rates are approximate, please check their webs to confirm

1. Room007 & Restaurant Saporem

Recepción by Room007

Room007 is a wonderful hostel with a hidden restaurant in a perfect location; a two-minute walk separates this whimsical and inexpensive hostel from Plaza Santa Ana or Sol, both must-see sites in Madrid. On top of that, it won’t take you longer than 10 minutes to walk to the airport bus.

Whether you’re traveling with your backpack or with a family member, at Room007, you will find a good range of rooms from double rooms to a single bed in a 8-bed shared room. Moreover, the different kinds of people passing through will catch your attention.

As an added bonus, you’ll get the chance to hang out on the rooftop! You will never want to leave. Also, let Adrian, the hostess,  know that you want to enjoy some of the great activities that the place has to offer: Free walking tours, bike tours, parties (3 bars + 1 club), drinking games, tapas experiences, affordable flamenco tablaos and much more!

Hostel rates:

  • Bed in shared room from 18€
  • Double from 50€

*See special deals on their website.

Contact info:

  • Address: Ventura de la Vega, 5 & Hortaleza, 74
  • Metro: Sol or Sevilla (Ventura) Chueca (Chueca)
  • Facebook
  • Web site
  • Email: reservas@room007.com

Room007Ventura (1)

Room007Ventura (5)

1. Saporem Restaurant 

If that wasn’t enough, Room007 also has an outstanding restaurant downstairs, which you will have discounts on during your stay. Here you can find all kinds of food including burgers, vegetable platters and homemade pizza and pasta dishes. The average price is around 20€/each without the discount.

Pulpo by Saporem

Terrace by Saporem

Restaurant by Saporem

Restaurant Facebook by Saporem

Menu

  • Pasta & Pizza …………9€-11€
  • Fish & meat……………8€-12€
  • Bottle of wine ………..13€

2. Hostal Persal & Ginger Restaurant 

Hostal Persal and Ginger Restaurant in Madrid, Spain by Naked Madrid

Hostal Persal is another really good option located just a stone’s throw away from Puerta del Sol. This hostel is also close to La Latina neighborhood, one of the most famous areas in Madrid, well known for its charming streets and gorgeous pintxo bars like Lamiak.

Hostel rates:

  • Single room from 40€
  • Double from 50€

*Best price guaranteed on their website.

Hostal Persal Contact info:

  • Address: Plaza del Ángel, 12
  • Metro: Sol or Sevilla
  • Facebook
  • Web site
  • Email: info@hostalpersal.com

double by Hostal Persal
Single Room By Hostal Persal

2. Ginger Restaurant 

Although it may look like an expensive place, Ginger offers great quality food at an affordable price. Ginger is owned by a restaurant group founded in Barcelona that now has 6 restaurants in Madrid, all of which deserve a try. These restaurants run a chef apprenticeship program and share the same concept: nice ambiance, top quality and inexpensive food. On top of that, the group’s foundation, Andilana, is a large NGO that invests money into helping people reintegrate into society.

Hostal Persal and Ginger Restaurant in Madrid, Spain by Naked Madrid

Hostal Persal and Ginger Restaurant in Madrid, Spain by Naked Madrid

Ginger Restaurant Contact info:

  • Address: Plaza del Ángel, 12
  • Metro: Sol or Sevilla
  • Facebook
  • Website
  • Email: ginger@grupandilana.com
  • Tel. +34 91 369 10 59

3. One Shot 23 & Ateneo Restaurant 

Single 2 by One Shot

One Shot 23 is a modern hotel which boasts a healthy mix of luxury, convenience and affordability. The hotel has another location in Barrio de Salamanca and is set to open more in Spanish cities such as Valencia, Seville and Barcelona. One of the advantages of staying at One Shot 23 is its location — it is very close to the Prado and Thyssen Museum. Although Madrid is a very noisy city, the hotel is situated in a quiet area.

Hotel Rates:

  • Single room from 68€
  • Double from 72€

Contact Info

  • Address: Calle Prado, 23 | One Shot 04 (Barrio Salamanca)
  • Metro: Banco de España & Sevilla
  • Facebook
  • Website
  • Email: prado23@oneshothotels.com

terrace by Onw Shot

Single by One Shot

3. Ateneo Restaurant 

Ateneo is much more than a restaurant. Since its founding, this institution has been a private cultural center. Today it is situated on Calle Prado, where you will be transported a century back in time. If Ateneo’s walls could talk, they’d surely tell fascinating stories of the history of Spain.

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 Enjoy your stay!