Category Archives: Spain

Top 5 Café-Bookshops In Madrid

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If you’re an adventure-loving Madrileño or Madrileña with a twist of the bookworm about you, check out my article, The Top 5 Café-Bookshops In Madrid here in City Life Madrid, a super cool company created to help young, international people in Madrid get settled, meet people and create a new life of their own. So grab yourself your favourite book, make working that little bit more fun and try out these beauties :) You won’t regret it!

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#SharedSpace

#CoffeeCakeWine

#LifeEnhancers

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25 Roof Terraces You Have To See In Madrid!

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And I thought I was the Queen of roof terraces in Madrid… Apparently not! Who knew there were a full 16 more roof terraces than the 9 I frequented last year?

If you’re also happiest sipping rose a-top one of Madrid’s beautiful buildings at sun down or if you’re new to the mile-high club, check out these stunnning roof terraces in this beautiful article from Inspiramemadrid.

#livingvicariouslythroughyou

#roofterracebeauty

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6 Sitios Donde Comer, Beber y Comprar

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Calling All Arty Madrileñas!

If you’re an adventurous little thing looking for some super cool new joints in Madrid where you can eat, drink and buy artwork, hats or vintage furniture, read this awesome article in Harper’s Bazaar, Espagne. It’s like candy to a child for artistic types and is seriously making me wish I was still there!

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Moving Abroad: Madrid, Spain

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Do you ever contemplate moving abroad but don’t quite have the confidence to take the leap?

With such a variety of options to choose from whether Europe, Indonesia or Australia, considering a move abroad can feel like a minefield. From assessing the cost of living, sounding out new job markets or wondering about the likelihood of making new friends, upping sticks can seem as scary as it can exciting. But it doesn’t have to be.

That’s where Gazing Girl comes in.

In a series of short interviews with guys and girls who have moved abroad to France, Spain, Singapore, Australia and beyond, we hope to give you the push to travel where your heart takes you.

Next stop, Madrid! Over to you, Leah

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Can You Tell Us A Bit About You?

Of course! My name is Leah. I am a 23 year old Canadian girl who loves to travel! I grew up just outside Toronto where I eventually went to school at Seneca College for Early Childhood Education. As with most people my age, I am currently questioning whether it was the right field for me! I’ve been giving writing a try over the last few years and I really quite enjoy it. I lived in beautiful Roma for 4 months in 2012 and since then I have spent every summer abroad. I am currently spending my first full year in Madrid, Spain!

What Inspired You To Move Abroad?

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I was bitten by the travel bug early on. My whole life I surrounded myself with photos and books of faraway places that I wanted to visit. I spent all my time reading about the histories of civilisations around the world. I knew right away that I wanted to experience a lot of cultures in an in depth way. I pictured myself on adventures like Indiana Jones or Laura Croft.. you know how they’ve been to so many places and have the ability to just immerse themselves in the world they happen to be in that day? That’s what I wanted.

How Big Is Madrid?

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Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is almost 3.2 million and that of the Madrid metropolitan area, around 6.3 million. It’s the third-largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin and the city spans 233.3 square miles. But unlike some capital cities, its pace is relaxed and welcoming despite its size.

How Did You Manage The Change?

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I worked on my first trip abroad for about a year before it actually happened, so I felt incredibly prepared for it. I didn’t plan my every step but I created an outline for myself so that I had some form of stability while over there. When I finally arrived I was so over the moon with my new environment that some of the plans went out the door as I gave way to spontaneous acts. I think the most important thing for a traveler is to completely rid yourself of any expectations. These can easily hinder an experience. I went overseas ready to fully absorb the cultural differences and to take things as they came. 

What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?

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Where to start? I’m going on my fourth summer abroad and even though I have visited many different places in that time I’d have to say that one thing they all have in common is the amazing people I’ve met along the way. I’ve done a lot of growing up during my travels and have learned many life lessons solely due to meeting people from so many different walks of life. It’s amazing – there are so many different opinions, religions and lifestyles out there. We all happen to cross paths magically at the same place and same time. It’s very serendipitous! 

What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?

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The biggest challenge of living abroad has to be the disconnection that has grown between myself and my life back in Canada. The longer I am over here, the less familiar my idea of home becomes. Madrid feels like my home now. It’s sad really as I love Canada and my family and friends back home but at the same time I have really grown up here – I have created a life here that I want to continue. I feel a strange guilt admitting that sometimes.

What Has Surprised You Most About The Country?

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The Spanish have a universal reputation for being lazy but I’ve come to realise that it’s not about laziness at all. The pace is slower here than other capital cities and that’s perfectly fine! In fact, I find the people here in Madrid are extremely active! They are always out and about, always taking advantage of what this amazing city has to offer. Perhaps a better way to describe the difference in approach is that unlike other capital cities such as London where the culture is more live to work, the culture in Madrid is more work to live. The climate and food in Madrid are beautiful and Madrileños place great importance on enjoying them! Some may call that lazy, others may call it joie de vivre or being ahead of the curve!

What’s Your Favourite Aspect Of The Country?

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The history is by far my favourite aspect of Spain. Honestly, I am such a history freak and there is not one dull event in the history of Spain. Everywhere you go there are elements of the past that is still a part of daily life. Not to mention that each of Spain’s provinces is incredibly unique.

What’s Your Least Favourite Aspect Of The Country?

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Sometimes I feel like there are inconsistencies here. When dealing with legal issues and government offices there never seems to be one straight answer for any particular issue. It all depends on who you talk to on what day. It can be incredibly demoralising for someone who genuinely wants to legalise their stay here and become a resident.

What’s The Biggest Difference To Canada?

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Though the weather is an obvious answer, it has to be the biggest difference. In Canada we are accustomed to extreme cold weather and the cities stay fully functional even with 20ft of snow on the ground. Over here their definition of cold is, in my opinion, silly. Outdoor activities close way earlier in the year and take longer until they open again for summer. The same goes for us in reverse – I haven’t yet gotten used to the summers here. The 42 degree heat and the scorching sun gave me my first ever heat rash last year. I don’t know how they do it! It’s particularly hot in August when most residents flee the city for a month in search of shade!

Did You Have A Stereotype Of The People In Your Mind And How Did Reality Reflect This?

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As I mentioned before, the stereotype of laziness was what I was expecting. The Spanish also have a reputation of being difficult and rude. This was indeed the case when I first arrived but eventually I began to realise that while their behaviour may seem ‘rude’ by our standards, it’s perfectly fine here. The Spanish don’t use empty “pleases” and “thank yous” - I think there’s a mutual understanding between everyone.

How Did You Find Making New Friends?

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Madrid is an extremely international city. All you need to do is meet one person and have them introduce you to their friends and you will have an amazing, diverse, group of people surrounding you. I find that I have become less of a social butterfly over this year. I’ve been trying to focus on work and living a healthy live rather than a life of partying. But if I wanted to go out and meet new people I know that it would be incredibly easy! 

What Is The Foreign Job Market Like?

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If you want to live in Spain and work it can be a little bit difficult depending on the sector…

I don’t fall into that category as I did a TEFL course here (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) and have had no problem finding work teaching English. There is huge demand for English teachers here despite the recession as speaking another language is a way for people to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. There are new jobs every month whether teaching business English to adults or general English to children! This can be a great option if you’re looking for time-out from a city job or something more permanent.

For other lines of work, I’m not so sure. The country is still recovering from the financial crisis and  I know it can be difficult to find a company willing to spend the cash on foreign employees and the legal work that comes with hiring them. That said, I know English lawyers and financiers working for international companies who have transferred over here and are having  ball! Speaking Spanish isn’t always a requirement.

How Hard Is It To Get A Visa?

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Oh Visas.. this is one of those topics that no one seems to have a straight answer to. It all depends on the Visa type and why you want one. Student Visas are quite easy to obtain for most people around the world. Once you start to tread into the working Visa pool though, things get hazy, confusing and very circumstantial. For those looking to live abroad I suggest getting a student Visa with permission to work.

What Would You Do Differently Looking Back?

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I would have saved more money. Being someone who lives in the moment means I don’t think always about the consequences. I came home completely broke two summers in a row despite the fact that I was working while overseas!

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Thinking About Moving Abroad?

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My advice would be to DO IT and do it 100%. You can’t half-ass a huge trip abroad. I have met so many travellers over this past year who want a lot of the work done for them. What’s the point? You won’t learn anything from that. Travel isn’t about how many cool selfies you can take in front of famous buildings. It’s about the fun, scary, stupid, exciting, dirty, complicated, life changing moments you experience along the way.

What’s Next For You?

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I am planning on applying for another year here in Madrid and hopefully qualifying for residency in a few years! I also have many plans for the coming year to visit some new place in Europe and the East. Here’s hoping!

How Can We Contact You?

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You can contact me through my website, This Road Is Life

What’s Your Favourite Quote?

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Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….

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I am strangely obsessed with the entire Real Housewives franchise… I don’t know how it all started but I find it wildly entertaining!

Some Of Madrid’s Best Bits In Pictures…

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Madrid-Retiro Park Spain 1259832539(www.brodyaga.com)

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Retiro Park is one of the largest parks in the city (350 acres) and one of Madrid’s premier attractions. Belonging to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park, it’s a tranquil paradise away from the hustle and bustle of the centre.  A stone’s throw from the famous Prado Museum, it is truly magnificent, filled with sculptures, monuments, galleries, crystal palaces and a peaceful lake.

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Casa de Campo is Madrid’s largest park (and also one of Europe’s) with over 1700 hectares of land, including a lake, a zoo and amusement park.

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Tapas, sangria and tinto de verano (a delicious mix of red wine and lemonade) are the perfect way to while away an evening in a plaza or park… Best of all, the cost of living is seriously low so meals out seem bargainous compared to places like London.

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Experience the best of Madrid’s gastonomy at one of its indoor food markets or roof terraces overlooking the cityscape. They’re truly magical.

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16 Roof Terraces Worldwide You Have To See!

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Where’s Your Dream Summer Destination?

Poolside, Caribbean cocktail in hand, surfing across beautiful, frothy waves in Hawaii, or whiling away a sunset on a roof terrace overhanging city lights? I could happily indulge in all three, but found myself with plenty of opportunity to sample the latter last year, hopscotching from roof terrace to roof terrace across Madrid. 

What’s So Heady About Being On A Roof?!

The best thing about rooftops is the sense of space and freedom that you find high above the crowds of craziness down below. Peaceful, glamorous (and sometimes with a price tag to match), these treasures really are some of my favourite places on Earth. What’s more, they usually come with cracking views over beautiful cityscapes and warm, starlit climates to match. Romance at its best.

Searching For A Cure For the Monday Blues?

This is a beautiful slide show from Architectural Digest, featuring some of the world’s best designed rooftops. From Miami and Mumbai to Madrid, Chamonix and Paris, these are high points in more ways than one.

I seem to be doing a pretty good job of following them around the world and look forward to sampling Le Panoramic in Chamonix very soon :)

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Lateral, Las Huertas

Lateral, Santa Ana

What’s Lateral?

One of the most well-known tapas joints in Madrid, Lateral’s terrace in Plaza Santa Ana is a truly pleasurable place to while away an evening. A top of the range chain with a distinctly ‘unchainy’ feel, Lateral is located throughout Madrid, including the popular Calle Fuencarral in Malasaña. Understated, chic and well-run, Lateral is great value with a diverse choice of tapas to boot.

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What of the food?

While it may be known for its top quality Tortilla, there are many other delicious dishes to choose from, from the Murcia Blood Sausage (a personal favourite a bit like black pudding), the OxTail, the Avocado and Salmon or the Pork with Melted Brie. Add a Tinto de Verano or a generously sized Gin and Tonic to the mix and you have the perfect feast.

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What’s the decor like?

If al fresco’s your cup of tea, this is the crème de la crème. Slatted wooden tables sit beneath a discrete cream canopy with flame heaters to keep you snuggly. With buzzers table-side, there’s no escape for lazy waiters who are, quite literally (or perhaps more aptly, laterally), at your beck and call.

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What’s nearby?

If tapas isn’t enough for you, you can chose from an array of desserts and cocktails. Situated in the heart of possibly the prettiest square in Madrid, there are bars aplenty for after dinner digestifs or rooftop glamour atop the famous ME Hotel (next door).

In short…

Well-located, scrumptious and beautiful, this is a great stop for visiting friends and family.

Contact:

Address: Plaza Santa Ana, 12

Website

Tel: 914201582

Nearest Metro: Anton Martin / Sol

La Rosa Negra, Las Huertas, Madrid

What’s La Rosa Negra?

If you like cheap and cheerful Mexican food in vibrant surrounds, give La Rosa Negra a whirl. Think rainbow decor, statement sombreros and a menu to make your mouth water and you’re on the right track. Sandwiched between Calle del Prado and Calle de las Huertas just a stone’s throw from Anton Martin Metro, this is an easy to reach little gem.

What of the grub?

The menu is full of Mexican classics with dishes ranging from smaller bites such as Guacamole and Nachos to larger meals of Burritos and Tacos. There’s also a delicious range of cocktails on offer from Caipirinhas and Daiquiris to Mojitos and Margaritas. I love their delicious Tacos and Passionfruit Daiquiris and would also highly recommend their zingy Margaritas alongside the scrumptious Chicken Burritos - the ideal mix of the spicy and refreshing.

What do they say?

Jamie Oliver would probably describe this as good, honest food. The presentation is simple but it tastes great, is good value and is served with mega-watt smiles. I’d definitely recommend this joint if you’re after a vivid, fun-filled break from tapas.

Contact:

Website: Here

Address: Calle León, 16, 28014 Madrid

Tel: 914 20 30 68

Nearest Tube: Anton Martin

Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza Mayor, Madrid

What is it?

My favourite place in Madrid, this should be top of your to-do list.  With an energy and buzz that reminds me of New York, Mercado de San Miguel is what living is all about. Think Borough Market Spanish style and you’re getting a little closer to conjuring up the vibe of this gastronomical treasure.

What’s inside?

Step inside the elegant glass structure and you’ll enter what can only be described as a culinary Paradise. From seafood paella and every type of croqueta your heart could desire to oysters, frozen yoghurt and sweet treats to melt even the hardest heart, this is Eden if ever there was one.

Who goes there?

Full of tourists from every corner of the globe sipping wine and beer whilst savouring tapas at chic high tables running the length of the market, this is a place buzzing with energy. I’ll never forget visiting Mercado de San Miguel having just left the corporate world – the happiness etched across the market sellers’ faces was tangible and striking. Simple pleasures. Food for thought.

Will you like it?

And a food lover you should be if you come here. If you’re happiest eating, you’re in for a treat.

Why visit? 

This is a place which will tease every sense and catapult you full-throttle into joie de vivre.

The only warnings are as follows: 1) Don’t let your bag out of your sight 2) Bring an empty tummy 3) Be prepared to feel bloated after a visit.

This is an experience to be embraced. This is living.

Contact:

Plaza San Miguel, 28005, Madrid

Nearest tube: Opera

“La Infinito, café-libros-arte”, Anton Martin, Madrid

Where is it?

Tucked away in the quiet backwaters of Anton Martin and Lavapiés, La Infinito, café-libros-arte is a book-filled, bohemian musical-café on a sunny corner. Like walking into the cosy lounge of a really interesting journalist-musician hybrid, this is the sort of place you can settle down into for an afternoon.

What of the grub?

Whether coffee, tea or brunch, the food, prices and service are stellar. Juice, tea, toast with nutella and a giant bowl of cereal with yogurt and fruit will set you back a mere 4.5 euros with the priciest item on the breakfast menu being 6 euros.

If music be the food of love play on..

Apart from the deliciously kooky decor, one of the best bits of La Infinito, café-libros-arte is the musicians you can watch here. With a little glass stage, it’s home to intimate gigs such as Celia Carballo’s recent performance, mixing soulful classics and brunch for a mere 12 euros! To see the sort of quality we’re talking about, check her out performing with the Black Bones here. Incredible.

Why visit?

If you like literature, character, cosiness and great value food, give this whirl. La Infinito, café-libros-arte is super cute, super cool.

Details:

Address: Calle de Tres Peces, 22

Nearest metro: Anton Martin

Events: Check out the Facebook pages of “La Infinito, café-libros-arte” and Celia Carballo via “The Tribulettes”

Opening Hours:

Mon – Thurs: 11am – 12am

Fri: 11am -1am

Sat: 11-2am

Free Wifi

 

Librería “La Central de Callao”

Where is it?

Situated a stone’s throw from El Corte Inglés and Gran Via, this place is completely unique. A mix of academic-chic, La Central de Callao is a 3 floored treasure chest combining over 70,000 volumes of specialized books in philosophy, history, social science and literature and a super cool bistro to boot.

What’s it like?

If unpretentious Bohemia is your thing, the bistro is a real find. Open until around midnight most nights, it boasts a great selection of cakes and savoury treats and would be an original substitute to grand alternatives.

Surrounded by books a-plenty, La Central’s bistro has a unique energy. Combining the soulfulness you find tree-side, the inspiration you find in bookshops with a cosmopolitan cosiness typical of Madrid, this little eatery is a real treat.

What else is on?

The lectures and presentations on offer are fascinating ranging from this month’s GRAF presentation dedicated to comics and illustration to Yasmina Khadra (one of the most important and famous writers of Algerian literary scene, with work published in more than forty countries) speaking next month.

Why go?

If you’re a creative type who gets excited by books and new places, try La Centrale. It’s good for the soul.

Details:

Dirección: Calle del Postigo de San Martín, 8, 28013 Madrid

Website

Teléfono: 917 90 99 30

Events

Horarios (El Bistro):

Lunes, martes y miércoles - 9.00 – 00.00

Jueves, viernes y sábado - 9.00 – 01.00

Domingo y festivos - 10.00 – 22.00