Madrid’s October Madness


Dust off those hipster, festival clothes. Shake off those cobwebs. There is a special treat in store this weekend! On the 9th, 10th and 11th of October, Malasaña and Conde Duque are hosts to Villamanuela festival!

Dance the night and day away, practice your experienced, serious, artist face in the various exhibitions, or shamelessly take advantage of the discounts and deals in the shops and restaurants throughout these barrios like we will be doing. 33 bands will be playing, including The Sonics, Girl Band and The Black Madonna.

Tickets cost from €32 a day, but you had better hurry! “Saturday only” tickets have already sold out! Check out the website for more details:


If you are like us you will love Spanish food but it tastes so much better when you know you are getting a good deal! Get ready for your foodie socks to pop off in excitement…next weekend in Lavapiés is Tapapiés.

Tapapiés involves some 375,000 types of tapas, 100,000 visitors and
90 participating restaurants and cafés. A tapas will only set you €1,50 out of pocket and just €2,50 if you choose to pair it with a drink!

Savor your favorite tapas in front of some top entertainment: 60 open-air concerts and performances!

This magnificent event doesn’t last for just one weekend either, but extends from Thursday 15th of October all the way to Sunday the 25th of October. Get the stretchy trousers out and let the 10 days of feasting begin!

Fall Events in Madrid: Bonus Round!

three_freaks_glassesFeeling like Oktoberfest is ending all too soon? Fear not! The Mercado de las Ranas is coming to Madrid (Huertas) and Freaks Brewing is throwing an awesome party at Fogg Bar on October 3rd, at 20:00! Take a break from shopping and theater for a little drinking and competition: if you love craft beer, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and a crazy-fun Foosball tournament then this is the event for you!

fogg-barLocated at Calle Moratín, 5, Fogg will be featuring some of Freaks Brewing most renowned beers: Cereal Killer, Blind Cowboy, and Tropical Explorers! Sign up for free entry to the foosball tournament at or just show up on the day of!

This is a guiri dream come true: we’ll see you there!


Fall Events in Madrid

AIL side adThe summer heat wave has passed, but Madrid’s just warming up! For one thing, the city is flooded with fresh faces: new university students, bright eyed professionals transferring in from other countries, a mountain of new auxiliares, and the list just keeps going! At AIL Madrid (my Spanish academy), the halls are full of exited Spanish language lovers chattering about the perfect weather, great wine, and all the exciting events happening in Madrid this fall. One particularly enthusiastic conversation in my intensive course inspired me to jot some of the events down, for newbies and veterans alike!

So, without further ado, here’s what’s happening in Madrid this fall!

  • Oktoberfest 2Oktoberfest! You don’t need to travel all the way to Germany to enjoy some of the country’s best beers, dishes, and folk music: it’s all right here in Madrid! Head over to the Barclaycard center in Salamanca this weekend and live it up, German style! Entrance is 15€ apiece, and the festival lasts from the 24th to the 27th. Additionally, if you’re looking for something fun but a little more low-key, the AIL blog has a great list of German bars. Enjoy!
  • the screamThe Edvard Munch exhibit is opening at the Thyssen on October 6th, which promises great fun for art-minded guiris looking to further explore “The Scream” artist’s paintings. I’ll be there for sure!
  • Madreat_MG_4375MadrEat: we talked about this awesome food truck festival in July but, since then, it’s only gained in popularity. Taking place on the 3rd weekend of every month, this past weekend boasted thousands of people visiting an ever growing number of trucks with an incredible variety of artisan food and drink. The next one takes place in Plaza de Azca (as usual) on the 16th-18th of October, so mark your calendars and share your favorite trucks in the comments!
  • imagesFinally, October is handing out a three day weekend! The 12th of October (Monday) is a bank holiday so, for the newbies, this can be a great chance to get out and start exploring Spain! Or, if you’re already well acquainted / want to explore the city further, head to Cines Doré for a quiet afternoon movie or on a long walk through the park while the weather is still more than perfect!

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more updates and feel free to share more events in the comments. A big guiri welcome to all the new comers from your Madrid family!

Riding the Metro in Madrid

Tren_3000_2After spending the last 11 years living in Seattle – a city who’s transportation system is limited by lots of water (i.e. no underground trains) and can’t seem to gain the critical public support it deserves (i.e. super crowded roads) – I was thrilled to leave my car behind and take advantage of Madrid’s metro system.

When I first arrived I found it quite easy to pay 1,50 euro per trip and use the automated machines that offer instructions in English.  Soon, I learned that I could save a little money and time at the machine by purchasing a 10 trip pass for 12,20E.

abonoNow I’m riding the metro daily to get to my Spanish class and I decided it was best to buy a monthly pass (“abono”) for 47,90E. This was the first ‘tricky’ experience I had with the metro, but it wouldn’t have been if I’d checked out this website in advance or, if that’s not clear enough, this helpful Madrid transport guide.  It doesn’t matter what time of month you purchase your pass, it will be valid for 30 days at a time and is valid on the metro, buses, and cercanías (urban train), so it’s a huge asset to anyone traversing the wilds of Madrid. Here’s what you should do if you’re planning to purchase a monthly pass:

  • First, find a photo booth to have your ‘headshot’ taken (you can find these in the larger metro stations like Ave. de America or even on the street if you keep your eyes peeled).
  • lsSecond, take one of your photos and your passport with you to any Estanco or Tobacco shop – you’ll see them all over with their maroon and yellow “Tobacco” signs. This process can also be done at some of the larger metro stations, such as Sol, Nuevos Ministerios, Chamartín, and Atocha.
  • Third, tell the cashier you’d like a monthly pass, “Yo quiero un abono
  • Fourth, fill out the form provided with your local contact information and ID information.

At that point you should get a red card (roughly the size and shape of a credit card) with your photo and metro credit.  Each time you take the metro you’ll have to swipe your pass on the large green circle, located on the right side of each metro turnstile.  If you decide to get a monthly pass the next month, the process is much easier.  Go to one of the automated machines, select monthly pass, stick your red abono card into the machine, pay with cash or a card with a chip in it and you’ll have your new ticket for the month!

A couple of important notes:

  • You can plan your route and find the quickest way to get where you’re going at (available in English). This is also available as an app on your phone!
  • If you’re coming or going from Barajas Airport, the metro is a great way to go, but remember that you have to pay an extra 3 euros at the machine in order to pass through (unless you have a monthly pass).
  • It’s always good to have a metro map, which can be picked up at any metro station or found online here.
  • The lines are labeled with the final destination to let you know which direction it’s going – a map will help you figure this out or you can always find a detailed sign that lists the stops on that line.


Happy metro riding!

Moving to Madrid: Making Friends

making friends madridSo! You’ve made it to Madrid. Now what? Whether you’ve moved here for work or studies, everybody has one thing in common: everything’s new! The culture, the streets, and (most of all) the people are all unfamiliar and, sometimes, it can make you feel a little bit isolated or lonely. Fortunately, Madrid is also one of the friendliest cities and has infinite opportunities to meet new people! Here are a few of the best options (in my opinion):

The International Way

Students having a coffee at MikotaMy best experience meeting people and making friends was through my Spanish classes (which you may be able to see some enthusiasm about in my previous articles). Through my classes at AIL Madrid, I discovered a community of international people who, though from all parts of the world, shared my enthusiasm and interest in Spain and Spanish language and culture. They also understood what it was like to move here without knowing anyone and those who had been here a while had some great advice and insights to offer me. Aside from that, the academy itself offers really fun cultural activities and hosts a big party with students and staff alike every Friday (called Noche de Copas). In this way, you feel like you have a  friend group and an active schedule from day one. For me, this one takes the cake!

AIL Madrid Spanish School

The Guiri Way

j and jAnother way to feel immediately comfortable is to connect with your fellow guiris (foreigner and, in this case, English speaking). This might not improve your Spanish or give you the feeling of embarking on adventure, but it will definitely give you confidence and a loving community right here in Madrid. A few places to meet other guiris are through facebook groups (for auxiliaries, au pairs, Erasmus, entrepreneurs etc) or at some of the classic guiri hangouts (such as J&J books, la bicicleta, and pretty much any bar in Malasaña).

The At-Home Way

roommatesSharing an apartment with other people can seem great or daunting, depending on who you are, but it will always improve your social life. This is especially true if you live with Spaniards, who are sure to introduce you to all their friends and adopt you as one of their own. If you choose to live with other foreigners, this can also be a great introduction to the guiri community. Long live the Flat Mate Solution!

The Ripped Way

gymMy final suggestion for meeting people is a classic no matter where you live: join the gym! While not guaranteed to make you friends, this will put you in an energetic environment with lots of other people from your neighborhood. Overcome your fears and strike up a conversation; you never know where your best friendships might bloom!