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El Mercado de San Anton

El Mercado de San Anton

Since moving to Madrid, I have come to appreciate more than ever before the mercado culture. There is something about getting your fish fresh from the pescaderia, your meat directly from the butcher, and so on and so forth that makes everything taste better than when you buy it in the supermarket.  That is why when El Mercado de San Antón in Chueca opened its doors in May, I was one of the first guiris in line.

El Mercado de San Antón combines the charm and gourmet delight of the Mercado de San Miguel with the functionality of Mercado de la Paz.  The bottom floor is home to Opencor, a traditional supermarket in the Corte Ingles family. The next flight up is the actual mercado, which hosts various stalls where you can buy high quality basics such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, bread, wine and hamburgers.

The second floor is where you can find the prepared food kiosks. The variety is impressive and hosts stations dedicated to the tapas of Greece, Japan, Italy and of course Spain. There are several areas to enjoy a wine, cider, beer or tinto de verano with your appetizers as well.

The distinguishing feature of the Mercado is undoubtedly the rooftop restaurant, La Cocina de San Antón. It is a large restaurant with an indoor section, a patio, and a cocktail bar. Although I have not yet had the pleasure of dining there, my trusted colleague tells me that it is truly exquisito

El Mercado de San Antón has something for everyone, whether you are looking for a place to take out of town guests, need to stock the fridge with some fresh food, or fancy a drink or a meal out.

El Mercado de San Antón

Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24

El Museo Sorolla: more than just an art museum

El Museo Sorolla: more than just an art museum

Art museums – If you’ve lived in Madrid for more than three days, then you’ve probably visited a few. But have you been to El Museo Sorolla?

Awhile back, Courtney eased our museum fatigue by introducing us to some of the lesser-known museums in the Spanish capital. And today, I’d like to revisit one of those semi-secret spots.

The Sorolla Museum isn’t just any small museo filled with art. Instead, it’s a proper home hidden inconspicuously behind a wall on the always-bustling General Martínez Campos. Within its walls you’ll not only find Sorolla’s masterpieces, but an urban getaway replete with lush foliage and trickling fountains. For a moment, you might just think you’re in Andalucía.

Born in Valencia in 1863, the Impressionist artist is most famous for his depiction of The Vision of Spain. This series of paintings, commissioned by the Hispanic Society of America, features fourteen large panels depicting Spain’s regions. Now, his art displays around the world, but also occupies his old family home here in Madrid.

In 1925, Sorolla’s widow donated this house (built in 1910-11), along with all of their belongings, to the Spanish State in honor of her husband’s memory. Passing through the salons, hallways and gardens, it actually feels like a home (well, not my home, but some ideal version of it). Chandeliers, furniture, books – it makes the Prado feel like a sterile hospital.

Both art lovers and loathers will likely find something to appreciate about Museo Sorolla – whether it be the opportunity to admire a prominent Spanish artist, to check out unattainable Madrid real estate, or just to transport yourself, even for a minute, outside of the city. And hey, if none of that pleases you, the collection can be seen so quickly that the moment you realize that it’s not your thing, you’ll be done!

I was happy to find out today that the museum is often open on random Spanish holidays (speaking of which, happy Corpus Christi?) and that no admission is required to enter the gardens. That said, if you’re feeling a tad too lazy to make it over to the museum in the Madrid heat, you can instead take a virtual tour of the garden (which probably feels a lot cooler from the comfort of your own home). Turn on your computer sound, grab a tinto de verano, and you’ll be set.

Introducing a new Guiri, Pierre-Alban Waters

Introducing a new Guiri, Pierre-Alban Waters

How did I end up in Madrid?

Three years ago, I decided I wanted to speak fluently a third language, English and French being the first two. So I thought about learning Chinese or Arabic, but Spanish would be quicker to learn and has a more global reach, and I enjoy speaking it a lot, compared to my short experiences babbling mandarin or arabic. So my mind was set on Spanish, but still I did not know where I was going to learn it.

My plan was to use the last semester I had to complete to obtain my Master’s degree and do it in a Spanish speaking country. I had the possibility to study pretty much anywhere in Latin America and Spain. My criteria was: “Where will I have more opportunities to land a job with less than 6 months speaking Spanish?”
Madrid and Barcelona were then the obvious choices, as many South American contacts told me that for a graduate it would have been very hard to find a good job if you do not have any contacts beforehand.

So Madrid or Barcelona ? It was a tough choice. In the end, what decided me was the fact that Madrid had a larger job market than Barcelona and that I had the opportunity to study in a university in Madrid – ICADE – which brand would help me a lot to land a job here.

That’s why I ended up in Madrid. I now love Madrid for many other reasons, the first of them being that I fell in love with a fantastic French girl and that we both love living in Madrid.

I have been living for nearly 3 years now in Madrid, working as freelance management consultant and entrepreneur. I am looking forward to blog and share with other fellow guiris to help them settle in Madrid with specific advice on learning spanish in a few months, finding a job here, finding a flat, explaining every neighbourhood and which one is for you, and why not, talk a bit about the stuff Spanish talk about all the time: the crisis and politics

Do not hesitate to comment and/or send me an e-mail if you have any kind of question.

Here was my post for GuiriGuide. For complete “how-to” guides to make your move to Madrid easy, have a look at my blog !

Madridly yours,
+Pierre-Alban WatersMoving2Madrid.comGoogle+Twitter – Linkedin – Newsletter!


Not your Grandma’s Apple Cider

Not your Grandma’s Apple Cider

Guiri Guest, Jamie is a 31-year old American woman who has been living and working in Madrid since September 2009. Her fate was sealed in 2008 when she met a Spaniard at work in NYC who, after a year together in the States, was able to convince her to pack up her tiny West Village studio and move to Madrid.  Working in a large, international finance firm enabled Jamie to transfer to the firm’s Madrid office and she has been navigating the city and culture ever since.  One month shy of her one year anniversary of living in Madrid, Raul proposed and they are currently planning their fall 2011 wedding that will take place in NYC.


Living in Madrid has afforded me the ability to explore pockets of Spain that are not typically on the top of the list of most Americans.  Although slowly gaining recognition in the States thanks to the annual Film Festival, you would not normally hear San Sebastian mentioned in the same breath as say Madrid, Barcelona, or Seville.

Last spring my fiancée and I had the pleasure of hosting two of our best friends from NYC in Spain for a week. We dedicated part of their visit to San Sebastian and to this day it remains one of the best trips I have taken since moving to Spain.

San Sebastian, located in the north of Spain in Basque Country, is a lovely, small city nestled on the Bay of Biscay and is about a 5 hour drive from Madrid. The city is known for, among other things, pintxos, kalimotxo, and sidra.

Pintxos are small bite-sized appetizers similar to tapas, which are typically served on small slices of bread and displayed atop the bar with small toothpicks in each one. Tradition governs that you cruise the bar, taking any pintxo that catches your eye, and then stacking the corresponding toothpicks on your plate once you are done eating. When you are ready to pay, the bartender simply counts the toothpicks on your plate and charges you accordingly (a price of €1-3 per pintxo is probably about average).  San Sebastian has a wealth of such bars concentrated in the city center. Our group enjoyed having wine and a pintxo or two at one place and then moving on to the next until we couldn’t possibly eat another bite.

Afterwards we washed our pintxos down with kalimotxo, a mix of 1 part coca-cola and 1 part red wine with plenty of ice.  In other parts of Spain this would be considered a drink more for teenagers, most typically consumed on the streets with supplies from the local alimentación. In San Sebastian, however, this drink is more prevalent and is often a featured special at bars and nightclubs.

The highlight of our trip was undoubtedly the night we went to one of the local sidrerías, or cider houses.  The four of us hopped in a caband headed out to Sidrería Petritegi located in the small pueblo of Astigarraga, not far from the city proper. It is a massive restaurant with high ceilings and rows upon rows of picnic-style wooden tables.  As is tradition, we each ordered the fixed cider menu for €27.95 per person. It included a starter of tortilla de bacalao (cod omelet), followed by fried cod with peppers, chuletón (a juicy and perfectly seasoned t-bone steak) and dessert (cheese and membrillo, which is a type of dense marmalade). The menu also included unlimited cider, which for us was the main draw. In Spain, cider, or sidra, is a mildly alcoholic drink made from apples. As I have learned since moving to Spain, the flavors of the cider open up when they hit the bottom of your glass.  Accordingly, the pouring of cider is somewhat of an art form here and is taken very seriously. This particular restaurant dedicated an entire room to the pouring and consumption of the sidra. In the back of the restaurant was a large, cavernous space filled with huge barrels of cider and a barman that was tasked solely with pouring directly from the barrel. We had to watch a few other patrons to see how it was done, but basically you walk up to the barrel, hold out your glass, step back and hope to get some cider in your glass.  Drink (in one sip only), raise your glass, repeat.

I truly cannot say enough good things about San Sebastian. Although what I described above was just the culinary part of our adventure, the city is rich with other sites as well; we were even able to spend an afternoon on the coast of France as it was only about 30 minutes away by car.  If you are ever in Spain, I highly recommend a trip to San Sebastian. Buen Viaje!

Why Madrid?

Why Madrid?

Pierre is a French and British world citizen, as he has lived in Paris, London, Barcelona, Beijing, Toronto, but still, he prefers Madrid. He loves discovering new things, tapas and wine, writing, reading and rugby. Pierre has been living and working here since 2008, and now helps expats to find a place to rent and to settle down in Madrid via his company FlatAway.


Why Madrid?

I’ve been living in Madrid for nearly 3 years now. And as in relationships, three years is the key moment to look back and think about why I love to live in Madrid. Of course, every guiri in Madrid has his own reasons, but I hope my “why  I love Madrid” post will give you some keys to understand if Madrid is the city for you.

To start with, Madrid is a capital city but it still feels personal and human-sized. Having lived in London, Paris, Beijing and Toronto (the economic capital city of Canada), I can tell you other developed country capital cities do not feel the same. They are gigantic worlds where you seldom get a personal connection for your everyday chores. In Madrid, I already had the first year my favorite places where people recognise me, and this is true for my local supermarket, favorite bar, favorite tapas place, favorite restaurant and sports activity. There’s always some Spanish happy to make you feel you belong to the place.

Then, Madrid is still authentically Spanish and Castilian, but international at the same time. Barcelona, for instance, in which I lived 4 months, is more international, to the point it was impossible to find a restaurant with “typical catalonian food” in the city centre. The best calçots, typical catalonian recipe, had to be found out of the city. Madrid has a good old taverna with cocido madrileno in every neighbourhood. And at the same time, it has all the international food you want: Lavapies is there with its great Indian restaurants, and I tasted Russian, Ethiopian, Colombian, Ecuatorian and authentic Mexican food (not tex-mex) for the first time in Madrid.

All in all, Madrid is small and has everything you need at the same time. I live near the city centre, near Bilbao, and I can say I usually walk to all places I go too, apart from work. The centre as such is quite small, and has an impressive number of tapas place, international restaurants, theatres, operas, pubs, shops, universities… Of course, the suburban sprawl and the spanish real estate craze means most of the 3 million people living around Madrid live more and more outside the #6 metro line. But still, if you live in the city centre, you still feel like sometimes as if you were in a town or a village. Go to my favorite square, Plaza Olavide, and feel the village side of Madrid.

As a conclusion, I believe you have more opportunities as a foreigner in general to find a job in Madrid than in any other city in Spain. Madrid has been growing faster than Barcelona over the last 10 years, and my feeling is that the Madrid job market needs more international profiles than it has right now. Madrid until the 90s had few foreigners compared to other capital cities. So it’s catching up, and it is still the richest region in Spain! For instance, I landed a job in Madrid in the largest management consulting company, and guess what? I was the only employee who did not speak Spanish as its mother tongue. So I was then the guiri, and everyone knew in the company knew I was the French and British guy. And it was clearly a factor the recruiters took into account. But that’s another story: I’ll talk about how a foreigner can differenciate and land a job here even with a 20% unemployment rate in another post.

One last thing – In “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gisbert, the main character and author, has to define what is the word for her new city, Roma: “Sex” her Roman friend says. If you could read the mind of the people in a given city, then the single thought on a majority of people’s minds is this word you’re looking for. What is Madrid’s word in your opinion?

Wherever you are, already in Madrid, or just thinking about moving here, I hope this post will make you think and that we’ll exchange about why you chose or are going to chose Madrid! For other specific information on renting and relocating to Madrid, visit my website for Flats, Apartments and Rooms to Rent in Madrid with Free Relocation Support.

If you have any question, or if I can help you in any way, please leave a comment.

Madridly yours,

Pierre – –