Top 5: Natalia

The best thing about living in vibrant Madrid is that you will never run out of things to do, places to visit or people to meet, but if you´re looking for some inspiration here are my recommendations!

While spending the summer in Madrid does bring its challenges (read: 40 degrees and no air conditioning), this is actually a great time to let the city surprise you. My favourite time of day to be outside in the city was after sunset, when the temperature starts to drop and you can comfortably enjoy a drink in the open air, but this is not the only way to enjoy the city after dark. Cibeles de Cine is one of the many summer cinemas which pop up each year around the Madrid. If you think the Palacio de Cibeles is impressive from the outside, you should definitely check this out: a huge screen is set up in the Galería de Cristal, an interior patio with a 30 metre-high ceiling made of over 2000 glass triangles. Just try not to let this distract you from the film!

Cibeles

When I started compiling my favourite places in Madrid, a recurring theme appeared… food! As a vegetarian, I didn´t know what to expect from the food scene here, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of cuisines on offer. I have enjoyed Mexican, Italian and Middle-Eastern food, but the one place I would keep going back to is Bambúbox, the best Thai restaurant I have found in the city. The menu offers much more than your standard Pad Thai, with a whole section of delicious and fresh vegetarian dishes. Aside from the food, everything from the stylish décor to the presentation of the food makes this a great dining experience, all within a few minutes´ walk from the school.

Book shop

If, like me, you prefer to be outside as much as possible, you can´t go wrong with an afternoon spent in the Retiro Park with a good book. If, like me, you get through a book in just a few days however, it can become an expensive habit, which is why I looked for second-hand bookshops almost as soon as I arrived. If you´re looking for something quirky, I recommend Libros para un mundo mejor, where, in addition to literature in various languages, you can find a range of postcards and canvas bags decorated with the motif of the shop´s resident cat, whom you are sure to meet if you visit!

I couldn´t share my favourite places in Madrid without including somewhere to go for breakfast – the best meal of the day. My favourite spot is in the Plaza de las Comendadoras, Malasaña, and is testament to Madrid´s cosmopolitan food scene.  Federal is not like anything else I have found in Madrid; this Australian café is spacious and relaxed, and the food is fantastic. I would highly recommend the French toast or perfectly poached eggs, but if you´re indecisive you should be warned, the menu is extensive and it is super hard to choose!

Finally, no stay in Madrid is complete without seeing the city from above. One way to do this is to visit a rooftop bar, but I would highly recommend the Faro de Moncloa for a true panorama of the city. The 3€ you pay to take the lift 92 metres up the side of the tower are more than worth it for the sweeping view you are rewarded with at the top. Don´t be put off if you´re afraid of heights – the lift ride is over before you know it – just don´t look down!

Top 5: Adam

¡Hola! After living in Madrid for a few months I have quite a lot of favourite places, but below you can find my top 5. I hope it’s helpful and you try some of them out whilst you’re in Madrid.

1. Parque del Retiro

Sorry to be basic but this is by far my favourite place in Madrid. You can go rowing, visit the book fair (in June), sunbathe and get a glass of sangria at the cafeteria. Rowing there is great value for money and costs around 7€ for 45 minutes. I cannot recommend it enough and it is particularly amazing to watch the sun set there. It’s really easy to get there from the centre too and you can even walk if you’re feeling brave enough.

Retiro Park
2. Palacio Real

This is another classic. The architecture and interior design of this palace is really something else. I went 3 times whilst staying in Madrid and have got to say it is one of my favourite places. You can access most of the palace, its gardens and take pictures in front of amazing views. Each room has its own theme and it really is a must-see if you want to try out being a Royal for the day. There is a discount for students too if you book it online in advance too at www.patrimonionacional.es/ and this will make sure that you avoid the extremely long queues for visitors who haven’t booked tickets in advance.

Royal Palace
3. LLBar, Chueca

I would highly recommend this little drag bar. Coming from Manchester which has the biggest gay night scene in Europe, I really didn’t expect to find much to compare it with here in Madrid. However, I was wrong. Chueca is a part of the city which really embraces LGBT culture. This bar has drag queen shows most nights and really is so fun and a great way to practice your Spanish talking in the queue or listening to the extremely talented Drag Queens singing and dancing. The entry is free and the copas (doubles) are good value for money.

Chueca
4. Purmina Indian Restaurant

This is by far my favourite place to eat in Madrid. Although not particularly Spanish, it serves authentic Indian food and is run by local Bangladeshi people who are extremely friendly. You can personalize each dish to have it as spicy as you want and the interior design really is to die for. It is a bit further out from the city centre but it is worth the effort, trust me! It is a bit pricey but the mains are extremely big so you could always share a main with a friend or just have a whole dish to yourself! We are all kind of holiday after all ;).

Indian restaurant
5. Ojalá, Malasaña

My favourite café to have brunch at on a Sunday morning is definitely Ojala. It is really quirky inside (as you can see in the photo) and the food is delicious, particularly the breakfast menu. All the brews come in tiny little cute tea cups and the avocado on toast is gorgeous. Go whilst you can! It is in the very trendy area of Malasaña, which is full of cool restaurants and cafes so you can go and do a bit of retail therapy in nearby vintage clothes shops after a delicious breakfast.

Ojalá, Malasaña

How to choose the perfect Spanish language school for you!

Best Spanish school in Madrid

Being a student who studies Spanish, I thought long and hard about selecting the best possible Spanish language school for me. Whilst staying in Spain for 4 months, I wanted to be able to speak at least some basic Spanish. So I began researching online. There were so many schools to choose from, which at first, was slightly overwhelming. Below, I have noted down what factors to consider when choosing your school and then explained how Inhispania ended up being my school of choice.

1.     What do you look for in a school?

Before you start looking for a school, you have to know exactly what you are looking for. There is more to learning a language than simply Spanish lessons, it is also an experience. Make a list and write down what you think is important for a school to have.

For example:

– Are the teachers native speakers?

– Are there extra activities available?

– Are classes available for a variety of levels?

– Are class hours flexible?

– What kind of materials are used in classes?

These may look like very small matters, but could actually be a big help once you start looking. In the end, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. At Inhispania, Spanish is taught by Spaniards, and there are classes for all levels. The classes on offer can fit with any work/study schedule and activities are offered every week from Tuesday to Friday. On some Saturdays there are also trips to nearby cities such as Segovia and Toledo.

2.     Location

Location is hugely important; if you are looking outside of the center then easily accessible public transport is essential. For me, somewhere in the heart of Madrid was vital. When you can be a part of the city life and can enjoy its liveliness, the experience you have is all the more immersive and authentic. Whether that means enjoying the “Menu del día” after classes in a local restaurant, grabbing a coffee between lessons or even walking to Sol for some shopping after classes. Inhispania couldn’t be located in a better part of the city.

3.     Reviews

Nowadays, online reviews are a fantastic source of information about places, restaurants, activities and yes, that’s right – Spanish language schools! By reading reviews, you have access to honest opinions written by students (just like you and I).

4.     The student-teacher relationship is KEY!

Learning a language can be frustrating and takes a lot of patience. A teacher who can support students, correct mistakes, answer questions and offer encouragement makes the learning process a lot easier. For me it is very important to establish a good connection with a teacher. Asking questions seems less daunting and making mistakes isn’t as much of an issue. A classroom in which the students and the teacher are enjoying themselves and have a good relationship is a much more effective environment to learn in!

After going on the internet and looking up reviews about Inhispania (as previously suggested), a recurring comment was that the teachers at the school were really friendly and outgoing. After attending classes, I found out for myself that this was indeed true. The teachers were always so helpful and always tried to make you feel at ease. I felt confident and comfortable talking in classes and I was not worried about asking questions if I didn´t understand something nor embarrassed about making mistakes.

5.     Support offered

Does the school cater to your needs? Perhaps this is your first time away from home studying in another country without friends or family; will you get support? Does the school offer accommodation with other students?

Or maybe you are a mature student seeking a totally different cultural experience, what can the school offer you?

Inhispania, for me, lived up to all of my hopes and expectations. I received great exposure to Spanish culture through attending the activities, my confidence in speaking improved thanks to the hard work and dedication of my teacher and the wonderful classroom and learning environment. It was an experience that will stay with me whilst I continue on my journey learning Spanish. I can say with confidence that I will eagerly return to the school in the future!

Unusual places in Madrid: Templo de Debod

Our intern Gabrielle wrote this special piece before going back home. Find out how magical Madrid is with here impressions on Templo de Debod.

When I decided to practice my internship in Madrid, I automatically thought about the most touristy things to do in Madrid: visiting Retiro Park, having tapas every minute of the day and shopping at Gran Vía. Just like me, there are a lot of other people only thinking about the common things to visit when in Madrid, while there are so many other beautiful places to visit. Continue reading “Unusual places in Madrid: Templo de Debod”