Travel

suitcaseHey Guiris! I’ve decided to take a minute to get back to the very basics of moving to Madrid in this post: what to pack! This list applies to anyone and everyone, despite the duration of your stay, so read on and feel free to add additional items you seasoned guiri’s have found helpful in the comments.

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The following essentials have been discussed and hashed out among numerous guiris here in the city, so you can feel confident when you’re preparing your suitcase that you’ll be ready for any adventure that Madrid may bring you! Let’s get started:

1.    Your passport!

passportYou might be thinking, “this is obvious,” but that doesn’t make it any less important! Even if you’re from a European country, this vital ID is necessary to complete visa processes, take weekend trips to Morocco, and even to check into the occasional hostel.

 

2.    Smart Phone (unlocked)

This is the easiest way to bridge the gap between your home country and your new life here in Madrid. With all your original contacts, photos, apps and more, your smart phone is a great tool to help you navigate your new home. Grab a new SIM card at one of the many stores in Madrid (Orange and Vodafone offer pay as you go SIM cards, and Movistar offers monthly contracts if you already own the phone), or pick one up at your Spanish or teacher training academy. I know AIL Madrid offers them at the front desk and rents smart phones as well, all you need to do is ask!

3.    Some sweet shadessunglasses

In a city that’s sunny 65% of the year, a good pair of sunglasses will take you far. You’ll find them perfect for days in the park, walking to class or work, or a weekend lunch on one of Madrid’s many terraces.

4.    You favorite bathing suit

This item is easily purchased here, but make sure you have one either way. Madrid’s warm seasons (spring, summer, and winter) bring access to all the city’s public pools, as well as many private ones (motivation to make new Spanish friends!) In addition, the beach is less than a two hour train ride away, just waiting for you and your long weekend!

5.    Light, simple layers

light layersYou can ski or hit the beach within just a few hours of Madrid, so flexibility and layering are your best friends in the varied climates of this beautiful country. A scarf to throw over your shoulders is invaluable when visiting a church or visiting the mountains, as is the ability to take it off and bask in the warm rays in the park or at the beach.

6.    A secure purse/bag

I want to take a moment here to say I’ve never felt unsafe in Madrid. Be it dusk or 5am, my personal safety (as a young foreign woman) has never caused me a moment of worry or distress and I couldn’t be more grateful to have that feeling of security. That said, like any big city, the center has a few pickpockets. The easiest way to combat this is to have a purse with a zipper/magnet or, for the gents, to keep your wallet in your front pocket: yes, it’s that easy!

7.    A practical pair of shoesShakira+Antonio+visit+Madrid+8k0H209etMZl

The first day I arrived in Madrid I was given a copy of Hidden Madrid, a book full of walking tours and historical information about the nooks and crannies of this expansive city. This book, combined with a good pair of walking shoes, has exemplified more than anything what almost everyone who visits Madrid says: “the best way to get to know the city is by foot!

8.    Converter

If you arrive in Madrid without the ability to plug in your electronics, don’t worry: just stop by a ferreteria and they’ll set you up with what you need. But it’s definitely easier to arrive with at least one converter so that you can stay charged and in touch throughout your arrival and have one less thing to think about.

9.    A camera/phone

For those of you who have already lived here for a while, I’m guessing you feel the same as I do: some of my most cherished memories now belong to Madrid and I have the photographic evidence to prove it! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a photographer, you’ll want something to start documenting your new life and adventures in Madrid.

10.    A kindle (or whatever form of book you prefer)

reading metroI recommend a kindle simply for easy transportation: when you’re traveling or commuting, having a compact entertainment source with a variety of books can be hugely helpful! I joined the hundreds of readers on the metro right after my move here and have never looked back. It can also be the perfect companion for a sunny afternoon in the park or at a café, or lend a helping hand when it comes to practicing your Spanish: try reading a book you’re familiar with in your native language, but in Spanish!I started with Pride and Prejudice; the translation is simple and the vocabulary is useful in everyday life.

11.    A weekend bag

weekend bagMadrid is one of the best connected cities in Europe, with high speed trains reaching every desired destination within the country and cheap flights available to all the neighboring countries. Whether you want to hit the beach in Malaga, walk the streets of Avila, or take a quick weekend trip to Paris or Rome, having an overnight bag can make the decision to go that much easier (and help you avoid problems with RyanAir baggage regulations!)

12.    Something to share from home
maple candy

Bringing a small treat, a style of music or dance, or even new mindset to share with others is one of the best ways to make new friends and expand your new life in Madrid! Every time I visit home, I come back to Madrid with a bag full of maple candies, chocolates, and various arts and crafts to distribute among madrileños and guiris alike. What’s your country or state known for?

My final note regarding packing is this: don’t over think it and pack light! Madrid has great shopping opportunities for all budgets, and you’ll be able to find anything you meant to bring but forgot. Whether you want to avoid baggage fees or feel like discovering what all the Spaniards are wearing before selecting your own wardrobe, going light is always the best option!

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So, get packing and come to Madrid: we’ll be waiting for you!

Guiri Guide is looking for a couple adventurous and enthusiastic expats in Madrid who also happen to have the propensity to write and share.

Our Guiri Guide writers have a thirst for experience and a positive attitude when it comes to their encounters. Moving to a foreign country is never without its dramas but with our Guiri community of support, it can be enjoyable. A true Guiri Guide writer lays out the welcome mat for new expats and then continues to be the neighborly host through and through. Do you have what it takes?

Contact us to learn more or to ask questions at info@guiriguide.com

After seven successful installations, the Tapas Fair has returned to Madrid. Starting tomorrow, Thursday June 21st, the Palacio de Deportes (metro: Goya) will convert itself into a giant bar of sorts where you can sample some of Madrid’s best tapas accompanied by a caña of Mahou.

Thirty-eight different bars and restaurants will participate in this year’s feria, each with their own small stand offering a few of their signature dishes from madrileño classics to inventive new plates.

Each tapa will cost €1,20 and each caña will also cost €1,20. There also non-alcoholic drinks available at the stands. In past years, these transactions have taken places using fichas - small commemorative coins that you must purchase in advance at the Palacio de Deportes ticket window or at special stands within the event, so keep that in mind as you rush in with an empty stomach!

This year’s Tapas Fair runs from Thursday, June 21st to Sunday, June 24th, with a split timetable of 1200-430pm and again at 8pm-midnight. Entrance to the event is free.

…is through your stomach.

Lauren, founder and tour guide. Photo by Cassandra Gambill

I would like to introduce you all, faithful guiris, to Lauren Aloise’s Madrid Food Tour. This tour provides a custom assortment of Madrid’s finest cuisine, hand-picked by one very passionate guiri.

Lauren is an expat from Massachusetts who has lived in Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz, and Madrid. Her already existing passion for food increased immensely after living in Spain, marrying her very own Spaniard, and meeting her suegra, Antonia. Thanks to time abroad and the lessons learned from her mother-in-law, Lauren has learned a great deal about Spanish cuisine and has found a way to share it with the world! In addition to running Madrid Food Tour, Lauren writes both Spanish Sabores (in English) and Recetas Americanas (in Spanish), two excellent resources for anyone interested in Spanish or American cuisine.

Madrid Food Tour’s “signature tour” includes samples of various Spanish treats widely available in Madrid at both popular and unique stops around the city. The tour typically takes from three to four hours during off-peak times so that those on the tour can see Madrid in a way that most tour groups don’t typically get to experience. Not only does the tour hit all the general flavor groups–sweet, savory, and everything in between–Lauren shares some history and information about every plate sampled. Want to know what’s in what you’re eating? Where it comes from? Just ask!

Does the signature tour not sound like what you’re looking for? Want to try something a bit more off-beat or specific to your tastes? Do you have the most discerning of palates? Again… just ask! The best part of these tours is that they are almost entirely customizable based on what you like, so if Andrew Zimmern’s bizarre tastes inspire you to try something completely new and different, let Lauren know!

The Madrid Food Tour website can be found here, and tours are available now! Tell them Guiri Guide sent you, and then let us know how much you loved it!

We’ve told you about many Tapas crawls and food opportunities in Madrid, but this one bears mentioning for the next week in particular: until May 20th, De Tapas Por Madrid is an enormous tapas crawl with no less than 4 routes, each boasting between 15 and 30 spots in bars and restaurants.

Organized by La Viña, a business organization for restaurants in Madrid, and sponsored by Cruzcampo, the route makes ordering simple: each restaurant has one featured tapa, which comes with a mini-bottle of Cruzcampo beer (some restaurants offer both with and without alcohol), for €2.40.

If you are adventurous, I recommend just picking an area of the city that you like and finding a bar with a sign for “De Tapas Por Madrid” outside, and then going from bar to bar in that area. Inside, you’ll find maps of that particular route (there are four, based in different neighborhoods of the city). The maps have good quality photos and descriptions of the tapa offered in each area as well, so if you have dietary restrictions or just want to know what you are eating before you order it, you can pick and choose from the tapas suggested.

My first route this year has been the yellow route, where I visited three spots: Lhardy (an old and classily furnished delicatessen-type spot), Majaderitos Café (a more modern bar/restaurant on bustling calle Cádiz), and Grazie Mille Kitchen Bar (a cute and cozy Italian restaurant). I ate a salmon tartar dish, which I didn’t expect to like, but which was really savory and flavorful, a fried fish-in-sauce tapa, and (believe it or not) the signature spaghetti of Grazie Mille, packaged in a ball of tinfoil, no less. Do not expect large portions; while you may luck out with some of the tapas being generous, the ones I tried were reasonably small and packed more flavor than they filled me up.

After getting a tapa, you will be given a flyer with a code on it that you can use to vote for your favorite tapa on the route and also to enter a raffle for iPads and Cruzcampo products. After you try some out, post your favorite stops on the route in the comments of this GuiriGuide entry!

De Tapas Por Madrid

www.tapaspormadrid.es