6 nov. 2018

Getting Around Madrid with Very Little Spanish

I took Spanish ten years ago, but since then I haven’t had the opportunity to practice, until now. So, my first couple of months I struggled to get used the idea that no one speaks English here and, along the way, I learned a couple of tricks to avoid the misunderstandings. As always, I encourage you to sign up for a Spanish course to ease your initial experience, but here are a few tips in the meantime:

For starters, you can shop online with some of the larger supermarkets, such at Carrefour and if you spend a certain amount, they will deliver the items to your front door. At most of these stores you will find individual packaged meats and cheeses, so you don’t have to worry about ordering up at the deli counter. I now prefer to go to the municipal market not only to practice my Spanish, but because the prices are more competitive here than at the larger supermercados.


I also buy all of our Renfe tickets online, as well as plane tickets, or in English at the ticket machines in the station. Most of hotels also have websites in English that allow you to book online. For the bus and metro you can buy your tickets at an automated ticket machine in English.

If you have your health insurance through Sanitas, they have some English speaking associates, and they can provide you with a list of English speaking doctors. Although, be forewarned this list is not very accurate.

You can also go to restaurants that you know will provide you an English menu, such as Hard Rock, Foster’s etc. Also, if you are familiar with Mc Donald’s or Burger King’s menu, then you’ll have no problem ordering here in Madrid, but (for a more Spanish experience) most of the restaurants in the very center will have English speaking options.

The point of this is not to avoid speaking Spanish altogether, learning Spanish is one of the best parts of living here, but to help you along as you’re learning the language during those first couple of months. Buena suerte, good luck!

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