19 jul. 2018

Madrid al fresco

Living in Madrid one cannot help but notice the abundance of bars and restaurants that this city has to offer. Now that summer is in full swing and most of the locals have fled the city to invade the beach, it is the perfect time to explore these places and enjoy Madrid from one if its many terrazas.

For those looking for a beer or cocktail instead, I have a bit more experience in that arena. I cannot think of many better places for an afternoon beer or wine outside than la terraza of El Espejo, located on Paseo Recoletos near Plaza Colon. If you are lucky, you will be there when of the piano players is performing, thereby enriching the atmosphere even more. While you are in the neighborhood, there is a concentration of bars with outdoor seating in Plaza Santa Barbara, including Bulevar, Cruz Blanca, and Cervecería Santa Barbara. Another terrace ideal for a drink during daylight hours is El Viajero in La Latina. It has great views of the city´s old quarter and has a fun, tropical vibe as well. The mojitos are also noteworthy.

For something a little fancier and after dark, there are several hotels with great rooftop bars, including Room Mate Óscar in Chueca, Hotel Urban in Barrio de las Letras and The Radio Rooftop Bar Madrid in Plaza Santa Ana. All of these places boast great views of the city, posh settings and great cocktails. On a warm, dry, Madrid summer night you really cannot go wrong.

Considering it is July, be sure to check ahead of time to make sure places are open before making the trek as I have noticed that many establishments enjoy a descanso just like the rest of us this month. ¡Salud!

17 jul. 2018

The best places to go swimming in Madrid

Everyone knows here how hard can be summer in Madrid therefore which is why there’s nothing better than relaxing in fresh water: thankfully, the city offers many opportunities to do just that! First of all, in the center of the Spanish capital, you will find plenty of swimming pools of all types (private, municipal). Nevertheless, a breath of fresh air out of the bustling capital can make you forget the hot summer routine, if only for a short while. So, to enjoy a sweeter summer and appreciate the strong Madrid sunrays, we’ve selected the top 5 spots to get all wet in Madrid: Happy Summer!

The 5 best municipal swimming pools

1-The swimming pool of Complutense University

The perfect way to enjoy an incredible student atmosphere: situated in the Campus of a famous Madrid University, la Complutense, it is the meeting point of all young people who want to gather to swim together. Your student ID will be required but no worry because you can also enter as a +1!

• Address: Avenida Obispo Trejo 28040 Madrid
• Metro: Moncloa
• Opening hours: 11h-20h
/!\ Children aren’t accepted

2-The swimming pool of Centro Deportivo Municipal Casa de Campo

The popularity of this swimming pool speaks volumes: the number of sports facilities and room for hobbies of all types makes for a great day! Located fairly near the center of Madrid, with easy access via public transportation.

• Address: Paseo Puerta del Angel, 7 28011 Madrid
• Metro: El Lago/Puerta del Angel
• Opening hours: 11h-20.30h

3-The swimming pool of Centro Deportivo Municipal Francos Rodríguez

These 11,500 m2 of aquatic paradise create the perfect space to spend your time off this summer. Another swimming spot in Moncloa where also everyone is welcomed to enjoy summer and have fun in the water!

• Address: Calle Numancia, 11 28040 Madrid
• Metro: Francos Rodriguez
• Opening hours: 11h-21h

The best rooftop option
4-The swimming pool of Hotel Oscar Roommate

Probably one of the most amazing swimming spots in the Spanish capital! This pool is located on the top of the Oscar Roomate hotel! Spend a hot Saturday afternoon surrounded by the Madrid elite and drinking some delicious cocktails in a bright, chill atmosphere accompanied by low key music. What more could we ask for?

• Adress: Plaza de Pedro Zerolo, 12
• Metro: Gran Via, Chueca
• Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 10h30-19h

The best natural swimming pools
5-Las Presillas (Rascafría)

This very natural and awesome area provides a wide range of natural swimming pools. This is an ideal place to lunch with your family or friends. More, it contains a magnificent landscape and trials ideal for peaceful walks.

• Adress: Diseminado Cr C 604, 8, 28741 Rascafría
• Bus: 194, plaza de castilla
• Opening hours: 10h-21h

12 jul. 2018

A view from above

When I first got to Madrid two years ago, I spent time wandering the more touristy areas with my roommate and we discovered within a couple of days an attraction that still holds my interest for A View from Above it gives and the simplicity of its design: Teleférico.

What is the "Teleférico"?

The premise is simple: it is a ride on cables from right next to the rose gardens of Parque del Oeste across the rest of the park, the río Manzanares, and a large swath of Casa de Campo, with a breathtaking view of the city itself from many stories up in the air. The ride claims to be ecologically friendly, and it is nice to get out and above the crowded city streets into the open air. Cheesy music is piped in and a narration in excited Spanish tells you about some of the things you can see, but if you can tune that out, you are getting one of the most serene and expansive views of Madrid that I’ve experienced. I haven’t tried it on a cloudy day, but I can definitely recommend it for those days where the sky here is impossibly blue and the sun almost blinding; I would bet that it gives you a few extra kilometres of visibility.

The ride itself is under 15 minutes, but it works: not exactly a wild roller coaster, but it isn’t long enough for you to be antsy to get off. The Teleférico itself has a café on a terrace when you arrive, and there is also a very close-by playground for small children. Also consider hiking around in Casa de Campo for a while, or heading down to the Parque de Atracciones, an amusement park that is just a short walk downhill. A slightly longer walk will take you to the Zoo. The last time I went, though, it was just a break in a busy day and all we did was eat a snack on a bench before heading back to take our “vuelta” journey. This second trip, there was no narration, and the picture-taking and views were reversed so that we were approaching the city from the west instead of heading into the wilderness.

Each car can hold 6 people, so it’s ideal for anyone from a couple up to a larger group of friends who can easily divide into multiple cars. During the winter the ride has limited hours – most of the weekends in January and February they are open, but only the weekdays that are near holidays, such as the first week in January. The website talks about their hours, which grow slowly as winter continues, 12h to 18h in December, 12h to 18.30h in January, and so on.

I have seen these rides in other cities, but this is the first one I’ve actually ridden and I find that it was a thrill for a person who had just landed in a big city for the first time. It is a nice time-out from a busy day of showing a house guest around the popular attractions of Madrid. If you want to get away from it all just for an hour or two, this trip won’t disappoint.

10 jul. 2018

Summer in Madrid: what to do?

You’re planning to travel to Madrid this summer but you don’t know what to do there? Don’t worry, we have a lot of ideas for you. Madrid in summer is a charming city. Sun, beers, tapas and fiestas, a perfect life is waiting for you. Many festivities take place, so, for sure, you will spend the best time of your life.

1. Music festivals

If you are fond of music as much as Spanish people are, Madrid is the perfect place for you. In summer, there are several festivals take place in the city. If you like electro music, you can’t miss"A Summer Story" festival which gathers DJs from all around the world during one full weekend. You can also go to the"MulaFest" or "Festival Paraíso" where many activities and concerts are waiting for you. If you prefer rock music, your wish will come true. The "Mad Cool Festival" and the "Download Festival" welcome famous bands which ensure you have good time: Rock’n Roll. If you are looking for other types of music, the "DCODE Festival", the "noches del Botánico" or the famous "Universal Music Festival" will promise you some fun as well. 

2. Open-air cinema 

If you are a movie enthusiast but don’t want to spend your summer locked in your house, we’ll make you happy because we have THE solution: open-air cinema. Summer is a perfect season to enjoy a movie under the stars. Every year, Madrid welcomes you to several open-air cinema festivals such as"Fescinal" or "CineCebada" which project all kind of movies: comedy, drama, action, etc. It will be hard for you to choose, going through the large repertoir they have. You have only one thing left to do: buy some pop-corn!

3. Fiestas in the city

Summer in Madrid also means fiestas!!! In August, more precisely, 3 block parties are celebrated: San Cayetano in Rastro-Embajaradores, San Lorenzo in Lavapiés and La Paloma in La Latina. Almost two weeks of fiesta full of concerts, dances, street food… If you go to one of these fiestas, you will live through an amazing experience, with many people from Madrid who always know how to create a fun atmosphere. It is the perfect opportunity to gain a real Spanish-life experience.

4. Swimming-pool and parks

Apart from all these festivities,
there are a lot more activities that will keep you busy all day and and even all night long. Summer is the season of swimming-pools in the Spanish capital. Nothing is better than to swim to freshen up in the middle of an urban oasis. There are many places such as the Complutense Universidad de Madrid’s swimming-pool where many students come after class to spend some good time together. Near the Sierra, you can also find small beaches with natural swimming-pools which offer good spots for sport activities as water skiing or paddling. You should go a few days there to discover amazing landscapes of the mountains Sierra.  

In Madrid, it is also possible to go to parks like the Retiro Park, located in the heart of the city, near our schools. There, you can have a walk under the shadows of the trees, go on a picnic or even rent a boat to have fun with your friends in the small pool after class. Another nice park is Casa de Campo, where a fun amusement park opens its doors to the ones who are ready to lose their minds. In this park, there is a cable car which crosses it and which offers an amazing view on the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the mountain range Sierra. If you are looking for a more quite type of activity, it is possible to have a walk or ride a bike through the park. However, if you want a park which is even less touristic, the Campo del Moro park, located between the Royal Palace and Madrid Río, is perfect for you. If you are lucky, maybe you’ll see peacocks strolling in total liberty.

5. Shops and museums

Finally, we can’t forget that July in Madrid means sales. We think this is actually the best time of the year to go shopping because the shops are full of nice clothes, full of colors. It is also a good time to discover the museums you haven’t been yet such as Prado Museaum, the Reina Sofia Museaum etc. to learn more about the Spanish culture, apart from your classes.

Now you know everything about Madrid in summer and you can see that you won’t get bored even a second. We are waiting for you here, in the Spanish capital, to come enjoy some tapas and fresh beers. See you!

4 jul. 2018

4th of July and Gay Pride in Madrid!

For all you Americans out there, 4th of July is happening in Madrid with a bang this year! Between the second largest gay pride parade in the world, and numerous American style restaurants to choose from, we’re planning to have as much fun as we would in the states!

As an American myself, I hold a very special place in my heart for the 4th of July. The words alone evoke the smell of BBQ, the sounds of kids screaming excitedly as they catch candy from passing floats, water gun fights, and afternoons by the river. Growing up in a small New England town, the 4th of July has always been as much about community as anything and I was very nervous about losing that tradition when I arrived in Madrid three years ago. But, though there are a few things you can’t capture when celebrating abroad (my hometown happens to have a bizarre tradition of racing outhouses down Main Street that I haven’t found anywhere else in the states, let alone Spain), celebrating in Madrid is tons of fun and we have a great community of Americans here!

This year is 4th of July and Gay Pride in Madrid! So be sure not to miss out:

Madrid Pride 2018 

If you don’t feel like leaving the city center, the second largest pride celebration in the world is happening right here in Madrid. With parades, concerts, protests, parties, and more, there is a little something for everyone. Even sitting in a café and watching some of the incredible costumes and outfits pass by can be like a 4th of July parade in and of itself! For a full program of events, check out the Madrid Pride 2018 calendar. For further information about the Gay Pride Week in Madrid you can read about it in our last post.

BBQs, Diners, and A Taste of America 

If you just want to enjoy with friends or share the tradition with your new Spanish friends, there are a few great options for a low-key day. First off is the beloved terraza BBQ (if you have enough space, or substitute with an oven): if you are searching for any US-specific products, try The Taste of America (they have several stores throughout the city). If you don’t feel like hosting, there are also a number of American diner themed restaurants throughout the city, such as Tommy Mel’s and Peggy Sue’s.

Whatever you choose to do, there are plenty of ways to celebrate your home country in your newly adopted one! As for this American, I’ll be focusing on what 4th of july has always meant for me: a tight-knit community of people who enjoy a good adventure…

27 jun. 2018

Madrid Pride in Chueca

We just started a new section where some of the friends of AIL Madrid share their experiences and adventures in Madrid. We hope you enjoy it!

Madrid Pride in Chueca 

The rainbow flags are out in Chueca. The streets around Plaza de Chueca will soon be blocked off to traffic and are decorated with colorful flags; Madrid is almost ready to get the party started for the Madrid Pride in Chueca.

Gay Pride here in Madrid began on Thursday 28th and will continue until July 8th. The annual parade that will take place on Saturday 7th of July is the largest gay pride parade in Spain, and one of the largest in Europe as well, and attracts thousands of international visitors. The neighborhood of Chueca is the center of the gay scene, with many clubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants. Many events are being hosted in Madrid this week to celebrate, and you can check out the listings here.

I happen to be staying in Chueca at the moment, as I’m dog sitting for some friends, and therefore have a front seat to the party! The vibe is exciting and fun, and everyone seems ready to dance and sing and have a great time. The actual Chueca metro stop, located in Plaza de Chueca, was impossible to get to yesterday due to the huge crowd in the plaza, so getting off another nearby stop, like Alonso Martinez or Tribunal, might be a good option for getting here. Gay pride week aside, Chueca is a fantastic neighborhood that you should check out while in Madrid. The Mercado de San Anton is a great place to eat, drink, and take in the atmosphere of this exciting and dynamic area of the city.

So enjoy the week everyone, get your rainbow flags and your face paint ready – the party is here in Chueca.