Making friends in Madrid Part 2: Noche de Copas!

Making friends in Madrid Part 2: Noche de Copas!

Andrea is a guest blogger, Madrid enthusiast, and AIL Madrid evening course student. Her tips on making friends in Madrid are invaluable!

I arrived in Madrid two months ago and already feel sad when I think about returning to France in August. There are many explanations for this (the warm weather, beautiful city, holidays and markets etc) but there was one very specific reason everything went well from day one: my first Spanish night out immediately introduced me to the people whnoche de copas1o became my friends here and gave me a feeling of confidence in a brand new, otherwise strange city. And the event responsible for this seamless integration was none other than the Noche de Copas in Madrid organized by my Spanish academy, AIL Madrid.

You may be wondering, “what’s that, ‘Noche de Copas?” I would answer: certainly the most fun way to practice Spanish. Every Friday night at 10pm, AIL students, teachers, and team meet in a cool bar (the place changes every week) in order to spend time with each other and meet new people while enjoying some good drinks. This is by far the best way to meet people in the same situation as you; recently arrived in Madrid, looking to improve their Spanish skills, and open-minded/looking forward to making new friends.

I’m a prime example of how well it works: I set foot in Madrid on Wednesday and, thanks to the following Friday noche de copas, immediately had exciting Saturday night plans with new friends!noche de copas2

Now, I’m a regular: there’s no better way to celebrate the arrival of the weekend than by gathering with your friends in a good atmosphere and meeting new people who will enrich your stay and allow you to practice your Spanish.

This is the most anticipated event of the week for AIL students, making AIL an unique group of friends that offers so much more than just Spanish classes. If you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic, many students also go to the Se Habla Español Intercambio on Thursdays, which provides another great occasion to see familiar faces before Noche de Copas on Friday.

The bottom line is that I can’t recommend a better way to make friends and learn Spanish at the same time than by becoming an AIL student, so I look forward to see you on your first Friday in Madrid! xx

Crushing on Mercado El Huerto de Lucas

Crushing on Mercado El Huerto de Lucas

Before arriving in Madrid, I wasn’t sure what the mercado culture wa1st images like here but, within a few months after my arrival, I found I had fallen completely in love with it. First, with the most famous ones: San Miguel, San Anton, San Ildefonso. But my real market crush was El huerto de Lucas in Chueca area: the real jewel of the city. Situated in Calle San Lucas into the whole center of Madrid, it offers a breath of fresh air into the already vibrant Chueca neighbourhood.
While it doesn’t look particularly special from the shop windows, its inner secret garden will steal your heart in seconds. The 450m2 dedicated to health and environmental care offers tons of high quality and 100% organic products of any type 2nd image(cheese, meat, fruits & vegetables, tea & coffee, etc) in a green and environmentally designed atmosphere. You can choose whether to buy these products in the market as raw ingredients for homemade dishes, to eat them directly on-site, or to take the easy take out route and get the pre-prepared products del4th imageivered directly to your home.
The restaurant attached to the market, La Cantina Orgánica, offers ecological and sustainable gastronomy based on the quality of the products sold in the market. And the flavors of each dish is… INCREDIBLE! They also offer special brunch that is sure to make your mouth water and yo3rd imageur tummy sing.
This fantastic cuisine is available in two locations: one on Calle San Lucas 13 (Chueca) and another one on Calle Hermosilla 103 (Goya).
The concept of San Lucas seduced us with its peaceful, fresh, and relaxing vibe, as well providing unique place that you won’t find anywhere else in the center. Spending time in this verdant area, drinking fresh fruit juice or smoothies, is the perfect way to spend one of the hot afternoons in the coming summer! See you there!

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American Folk Singer, Alex Smith, Live at Sala Buho Real!

American Folk Singer, Alex Smith, Live at Sala Buho Real!

Alex Smith, one of the most promising young folk singers coming up in the States right now, will perform live In Madrid at Sala Buho Real on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 20:00: this is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your roots or get a taste of some real, authentic Americana, so mark your calendars ASAP!

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Smith follows the authentic folk tradition with deep, poetic songs full of rich stories and harmonies, inspired by the people in his hometown in the Adirondacks in New York State. He was featured in the Emmy award winning PBS documentary, Songs to Keep, the producer of which said:

“When Alex sings traditional folk songs from his region, he energizes them with his own voice, arrangements and charisma. I sought him out to perform in the Emmy award-winning documentary Songs to Keep: Treasures of an Adirondack Folk Collector, and it’s a real pleasure working with him.”
– Paul Larson, Producer, Mountain Lakes PBS

His Madrid set will be acoustic, creating an intimate experience that will transport you to the upstate mountain logging towns and back in just one evening. As Sarah Craig, director of the legendary Caffe Lena (where Bob Dylan got his start!), said: Smith is “a natural storyteller with a rich voice who is creating poignant songs rooted in the heritage of his Adirondack home.”

Tickets are available at the door, so be sure to get there early: here at Guiri Guide, we’re big fans of the song ‘Long Lake’ and are psyched to finally hear it live! As a reminder, Smith is performing in Madrid for ONE NIGHT ONLY, following a busy tour through Austria, so this is your big opportunity! See you all at Sala Buho Real at 20:00 (8pm) on May 4th guiris!

Se Habla Español, Madrid’s newest Spanish program

Se Habla Español, Madrid’s newest Spanish program

Se Habla EspañolHey guiris! Continuing with our tradition of language school reviews, here’s a bit about Madrid’s newest solution to learning Spanish– Se Habla Español. While not a traditional Spanish school, Se Habla Español partners with Spanish academies like AIL Madrid for classes and provides additional activities, language exchanges, nights out, and an intense sense of community.
Servando y RoxanaWho they are: Se Habla Español was started last year by two energetic entrepreneurs, Roxi and Servando. She’s from Valencia and studied journalism here in Spain before interning at a Spanish school and discovering her passion for sharing Madrid with newcomers. He’s from Venezuela, where he completed his degree in business admin before heading to the UK to study English, and finally to Madrid to study marketing. They are both passionate about providing the full Madrid experience to newcomers or a more intimate community to those who have been here a while but are still looking for their niche.

What they offer: Se Habla Español is really focused on practicing your language skills while exploring the Spanish capital. Their activities in Spanish include walks around Madrid and/or museums, bar nights every Thursday at El Estudio de los Arquitectos, and Friday night, open bar intercambios (that turn into raging parties) at Star Studio 54. They can also hook you up with Spanish classes at one of their partnering schools so that you can brush up your skills before heading out to practice them in real life situations. Finally, they’re in the process of starting up some conversation classes of their own where you can practice with a native over drinks in a cafe, so keep an eye on their website if that’s something you’re interested in.

Why we like them: to begin with, Roxi and Servando are super nice and welcoming. Secondly, they offer a great opportunity to join an international community here in Madrid, which we all know can feel a little lonely when you first arrive. In addition, it’s always more fun to explore the city with friends and maybe go places you wouldn’t think of on your own.

So if you or your visiting friends or family are looking for an authentic Madrid experience filled with tapas, café con leche, big smiles and more, Se Habla Español might just be what you’re looking for!

A week under the Málaga sun

A week under the Málaga sun

Malaga beachHey Guiris! With spring weather coming at us full blast, I’d like to share a little about my recent experience in Málaga for those of you who are itching for some beach time: I´d been working in Madrid for just over six months and finally decided it was time to take a break and improve my Spanish, so 3 hours and 50€ later I stepped off the train and into the sun to start my intensive Spanish course at AIL Málaga!

Since the only short description of what followed would be “a fantastic, bombastic, toptastic experience of a lifetime”, let me try to break it down into detail:

Living with international people

Malaga castleMy housing was already arranged by my academy when I arrived, so I just went directly to my shared flat in the center of the city from the train station. Once there, I met my new roommates for the week and realized we were quite an international group: Domenico from Italy, Ella from Switzerland, Verena from Germany, and me (from the US)! To get to know each other better, we made a big international dinner together on my first night (including a huge homemade pizza, tasty Swiss cheese, apfelstrudel and buffalo wings) and talked the night away.

AIL Málaga Spanish Classes

 experience in MálagaAfter such a great first night in my flat, I didn’t feel at all nervous about meeting new people and immediately made friends with my classmates and teacher. Classes at AIL Málaga are very conversational, encouraging debate, which was made extra interesting since my classmates and I were from five different countries and had very different opinions! We enjoyed discussing bullfighting in particular, since the practice was far more shocking to some of us than others. I never once felt bored, loved my native teacher, and found the experience very energetic and dynamic!

Party time in Malaga

Malaga nightlifeMy new friends from class and my flat mates already had a pretty good handle on Málaga’s nightlife, so we visited a few of their favorite places each night and I can now proudly say I know TONS of Málaga bars! But my favorite spot by far is a bar called ‘Picasso’ (lots of places are named after him in this city), where all the international students go and you can hear at least six different languages being spoken at a time.

Malaga- art and culture

Picasso museumIn addition to the crazy nightlife, Málaga also has tons of interesting things to visit during the day. I didn’t have time to do everything so I’ll definitely have to return again soon, especially since there always seems to be a museum to visit, a concert to go to, or another beach to explore. My Brazilian friend, who’s also an art fanatic, recommended the Picasso museum, which is made extra special since was the artist’s hometown. It features paintings from each period of his artistic career, and I was particularly taken in by “La Mujer con los Brazos Levantados” since I had studied it in art history- seeing famous works come to life off the page always sends tingles up my spine!

Malaga’s Tasty Cuisine

Malaga cuisineMy more foodie-focused friends and I went on a seaside walk to try Málaga’s famous ‘espeto de sardinas’ (grilled sardines on a skewer) and ‘porra antequerana” (a chilled soup made of tomatoes, vegetables, and bread). I have to say, I love the taste of Málaga!

Sun and downtime in Málaga

Malaga Paddle boardingA siesta on the beach is just what the doctor ordered after a light, Mediterranean lunch: and there’s so much beach in Málaga that you can always find a nice spot to lay your towel. After developing a nice tan, my friends and I rented paddle boards and took a spin around the bay: not only was it fun but there was a fantastic view of the city from the sea!

After one of the best weeks I can remember, it was time to go back to Madrid but my Málaga friends are planning to visit me soon and I know I’ll be back again soon. I hope you guys find this helpful while planning your trips to Málaga, especially if you’re looking for a great Spanish school. ¡Hasta luego!