Madrid Life

La Liga games in Spain

Like many other European countries, football (aka soccer in North American terms) is one of their favourite, if not the most popular sport in Spain. As an avid fan of the sport myself, I’ve been wanting to go to Real Madrid’s game since I arrived in Spain. And as my boyfriend, who also is a football fan, was visiting me during Christmas break, we took a train to Valencia to watch La Liga Real Madrid’s away game versus Valencia C.F.

The partner site to purchase these game tickets is Ticketmaster, and you can find the tickets by searching up on your club. Tickets are sold under the Home team (i.e. I had to look for Valencia C.F.’s game tickets for this away game) and prices vary from 30 euros which are extremely hard to get to hundreds of euros. We purchased 75 euros tickets, and had a great view of the game.

The vibe before the game was similar to that of Vancouverites. People gather up in front of the stadium, crashing beers and singing their supporters chants. But of course, the stadium is much bigger here hence so much bigger crowd.

The stadium was filled with Valencia fans, and even though Real Madrid lost it was a fun game. The biggest difference between North American soccer games and this one, was that it seemed like no one was drinking during the game. My experiences at Whitecap games is the polar opposite where everyone is drinking, so it was rather a culture shock for both of us. It almost felt like that the crowd really valued the sport as a sacred activity where you should be paying your full attention, not just a leisure activity. The game finished 2-1 so the home ground was very happy.

OH! And also during the game, they were playing this song by K-pop artist Big Bang at least five times. And later I found out that one of the members of Big Bang was actually there at the game, and I guess the stadium was playing their song for him.

After we came back to Madrid, there was another Real Madrid game, this time versus Atletico. So we went to a bar near my place to watch the game this time, to experience the ‘local’ game night vibe.

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We got to the bar quarter after 8, for the 9pm game. By 8:30pm all the tables were taken so we were glad we got there a bit early. It also seemed like the crowd was half Real fans and half Atletico fans. People were drinking this time (of course, we were at a bar) and the game ended 2-2. It was interesting to see a couple of guys just sitting at a table by themselves with beer to watch the game, as it usually is a whole bunch of guys going to sports bars to watch the games in Vancouver.

In North America, soccer is not the most popular sport (Vancouver probably is one of the few cities with active supporters). So I hope to see a couple more games before I go back, and maybe I’ll go watch Atletico’s game the next time!

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Madrid Life

Watching movies in Madrid – Cines Princesa

I’ve been dying to go see Interstellar since it came out, and to reward ourselves for a week of hard work me and my MRCB buddy Stephanie went out to the city for a little movie night. We have heard of a few theatres that show movies in their original languages, and we decided to go to Cines Princesa. It’s right off of Gran Via, close to Plaza España so it’s right in the city centre which made our study break a little more fun. Since it’s nearing the end of the semester and we are bombarded with school works, we rarely take time to treat ourselves so it was a good way to take our minds off from school and all the group projects.

It is 9 euros per person, and it is an assigned seating system so you might want to get there early to get your tickets or even buy beforehand online.

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To be honest, we were both quite surprised when we walked in the theatre. It was quite small, seats were not elevated much, and the screen was quite small. After the movie started I also realized that it’s probably not surround sound in that theatre as well. Me and Stephanie (from Quebec, Canada) are accustomed to big theatres (especially in Canada where Cineplex pretty much monopolizes the industry).

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As far as I am concerned I have not yet seen a big commercialized theatre in Madrid – which is quite interesting as it feels like they are more into theatres such as actual stage performance than movies. It also might be because we went to a rather specialized theatre. In the end it was a very unique and interesting experience, not to mention that we enjoyed the movie very much and ended the night with some tapas and cañas (of course). Will I go again to watch movies? Debatable…

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Madrid Life

Afternoon at Thyssen museum

I stopped by Thyssen museum with a few of my classmates over the long weekend. It’s near Prado museum and is part of the ‘golden triangle of art’ in Madrid with Prado museum and Reina Sofia museum. I really enjoy going to different museums (Leopold museum in Vienna is one of my absolute favourites), so I love the student discount we get for being students again. And I have to say, I personally enjoyed Thyssen museum more than I enjoyed Prado museum.

Thyssen museum currently has limited-time exhibition of Hubert de Givenchy, which I’m sure many of the girls will notice his name right away. He is a famous designer who used to design for Audrey Hepburn, and the founder of The House of Givenchy. The exhibition includes many of his designs, including wardrobes he designed for Audrey Hepburn, and all my girlfriends that went with me (myself included) wanted everything from the exhibition. I absolutely loved the bridal collection…

I also really liked the Thyssen’s permanent collection as well. From Renaissance and Impressionism to Pop Art, Thyssen offered variety of periods and artists. Unfortunately they had some of Dali and Monet’s paintings on the road so I didn’t get to see them this time.

With student discount, it’s only 9 Euros for both permanent and the special collection or 7 Euros for just permanent. I strongly suggest a visit to the museum if you feel artsy!

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Madrid Life

Churros & Centro Madrid

Of course, being in Spain, trying churros is a must. Many restaurants/cafes/cervazerias in Madrid have churros on their menus, but I decided to go to Chocolatería San Ginés. So this cafe, has been making churros and chocolate since 1894 and your choice of the menu will be either a) 6 churros with chocolate for 2.80 euros or b) 2 churros with chocolate for 2.80. Don’t worry, for 2 churros one the churros are pretty huge, so they are pretty much equivalent to having 6 churros.

You walk in through the door you see on the right here (where the arrow is point towards to) and at the cashier you tell them whatever you want, then they will give you a receipt for you to take with you and you can find a spot to sit. I do have to mention that this is a well-known spot for churros and it seemed like it’s always busy whenever I walk pass, so you might have to walk around a couple of times before you can seat yourself at a table. When you have found your spot, give the receipt to any busboys/girls walking by and they will bring your order to you. I had 6 churros with chocolate, but for some reason they gave me 7 churros sticks. Unfortunately I was full after the fourth one so I had to leave the rest of them behind me 😦 Argh now I want churros.

After churros-ing up, it’s convenient to walk anywhere in central area: Sol, Plaza Mayor, or Real palace. And according to my facebook photo album, I walked to Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid). As I skipped the tour of the palace, I walked down to Almudena Cathedral. Again, I skipped the tour since I’m waiting until I get my student card so I can get all the discounts/free entrances to all these places.

I walked further towards East, and crossed the bridge to walk to Basílica San Francisco el Grande. It was closed when I went…

As I enjoy walking, I usually walk 5~15 km in a day depending on what I feel like. I mean, Madrid has such a great metro system so it’s very easy to go anywhere, but sometimes you just want to enjoy the scenery and the wind in your hair. Thank goodness Madrid doesn’t rain as much as Vancouver, but for some strange reason it has been raining here the past few days. Oh well, at least I won’t be seeing rainow (that disgusting slushy form of snow) this winter!

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Madrid Life

Estoy en Madrid!

It has been a while since I uploaded my last post. I’ve been busy as I arrived in Madrid a couple of weeks ago, and I have been traveling, walking around the city, and settling to this new city. Hence I’ll have to procrastinate my pictures of the first few weeks.

I am situated in Salamanca area, which is known as ‘the poshest’ part of Madrid, although I am the northern border of Salamanca and it’s not as posh as the middle part and the actual posh part of it. Nonetheless it’s quite convenient with 3 different metro lines at Diego de Leon, and I can walk to school (~20min) and as I enjoy walking naturally, I can walk to Retiro (~30min) or even Gran Via (~60min). Metro lines are also very well set up, and extremely easy to find your way around the city. One suggestion for travellers, is this app that I used called MetrO (Available on iTunes, or download the .apk file for Android). This app allows the user to download the city, and it is an awesome app that shows you which line you should take from a station to a station, or you can even search by a point of interest including the airport or even a well-known tourist spot.

In my first week, I explored the city by visiting Parque del Retiro, Mercado San Miguel, Plaza Mayor, and El Rastro flea market.

1. Parque del Retiro

It’s one of the biggest park in Madrid, and in the park there is a gorgeous glass palace called Palacio de Cristal. It is a great park to take a walk around, enjoy the sun, and soak up the greens there. It kind of reminded me a smaller Spanish version of Central park in NY.

It is a wonderful little park, and I plan to go back there whenever I can.

2. Mercado San Miguel

It is a market in the centre of Old Madrid, and offers a variety of foods and produce. With a lot of tourists, tapa options, and its own unique liveliness, it reminded me a lot of Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, which is one of my favourite spots of Vancouver in the summer times.

The market is situated not too far from Plaza Mayor.

3. Plaza Mayor

It is a big square with a statue of Philip lll. During the day there are a lot of street performers and tourists that fill the plaza with energy.

4. El Rastro 

El Rastro is located in La Latina district, and is the most popular flea market in Spain. Held every Sunday, the entire area comprising of many big and smaller streets are filled with open-air flea market vendours, ranging from antiques to handmade fashion accessories. Nonetheless, tourists will need to be cautious of pickpockets as the streets are full of tourists and visitors, and it’s very easy to be distracted with everything going on around you. I know this could be an odd comparison, but for some reason this flea market somewhat reminded me of Ladies’ Market in Hong Kong.

So this pretty much sums up my first week in Madrid – next up is cafe & chocolateria suggestions in Madrid!

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