¡Vaya Madrid!

Jan 21

A few words from our new editor, Anna Cherry

“I like to eat it,” he said.

“Them,” I said.

“I like to eat them. I am very fast.”

“I don’t have that much coordination. I always put a lot in my mouth and then end up swallowing all of it.” We were sitting on a bench in a courtyard where he sometimes got drunk with his friends.

“I don’t put them all in my mouth.” He looked me in the eyes.

“The shell is too hard,” I offered. The sun was showing less. Our legs were almost touching.

“I like the shell.”

“Do you eat them whole?” I tried to keep my voice even.

“No, I eat the inside. But I like to—” he touched his mouth “—taste it. Before I open it and eat the inside. I like to taste the shell.”

Luis, a tall, twenty-five-year-old madrileño architect, was the only person who would hang out with me outside of my apartment during my first couple of weeks living in Madrid—and he was paying me. I could hardly believe my luck.

I felt alone. I needed to figure out what living with three Spanish-speaking men meant for my life and how I might boil my Diva cup in our kitchen. I was spending a lot of time reading Tender is the Night at the public library near my piso and pretending to date my student as I held him captive long after the hours allocated for our lessons. Against the barren backdrop of my existence, Luis’s explanation for things like why he ate sunflower seeds (to pace himself while drinking), his explanations for anything really, bloomed. Our private classes were the highlight of my week.

This voidness characterized September, even though one of my best friends—a girl from Minnesota I’d met a few years before while studying abroad in Granada and lived with the previous year in Huelva—arrived midway through the month and incidentally found a place just down the street from me. We hadn’t started work yet; euros and outside connections were few. I filled her inbox with messages like, “I am lonesome. Noodles?”

If my first month living in Madrid was desolate, my last was a landscape of excess. Four weeks scrambling to soak up a city where I’d only just begun to find my niche, thanks to a writers’ group that led me to ¡Vaya Madrid! and the closest friends I would make that year. Countless midnight cañas and patatas with vegan queso and cake preceded by Retiro walks and chased with Sala BarCo dancing. This punctuated by private lessons, like the ones I gave to a thirteen-year-old pianist who loved horror movies and Paris. Our classes felt more like schoolyard chats and we often raptly discussed song lyrics after watching music videos. My time in Madrid was coming to an end. I played her “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire, which I explained was about disillusionment and alienation.

A few days ago I Skyped with my Minnesotan friend, who’s since relocated to L.A. While in Spain, she loved picking on the country more than anyone I knew. But she tells me that she and her boyfriend are getting back to España ASAP; they just don’t feel right where they are. “Imagine having all of the stuff there is to do in Madrid, but spread out over like twenty times the space,” she says. “That’s what people do here. They stay in their apartments, get in their cars and drive places.”

Of course, places are what we make them. But Madrid especially suggests community. (I remember the time I turned the corner from my apartment with plans for a quiet evening, only to walk straight into a crowd of people gathered before a stage blasting live music; within fifteen minutes I’d run into my roommate and a guy who’d approached me once on the metro to go salsa dancing.) Places are also the people who inhabit them, the new perspectives they offer. ¡Vaya Madrid! is a place that can reignite and direct discovery and connection for our Madrid readers. Or even for me, all the way out in the suburbs.

Anna Cherry
Editor, ¡Vaya Madrid!

Oct 20

The origin of “Spain is different”

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It was Napoleon, not the Spanish government’s tourist ministry, that first used this phrase. Napoleon was referring to the type of warfare — guerrilla combat — that the Spanish used to defeat his army. The French weren’t accustomed to anything but “glorious” warfare and were eventually put down by the armed civilian uprisings.

According to Nicole Gottieri, the Chief Curator at the National Archives of France:

Spain at that time was far behind all the other countries in Europe. Napoleon considered the Iberian Peninsula another world — with people from the Dark Ages - dominated by clergy, according to Napoleon, who were illiterate, ignorant, and fanatical. He thought that there would be no resistance whatsoever. Napoleon didn’t take the trouble to study the country he was going to invade. He didn’t think the Spanish people had the will to hold on to their independence. - PBS

Related article: Author Jules Stewart unveils the history and culture of Madrid and Madrileños

We’re giving away two signed copies of Madrid: The History to our followers on Facebook and Twitter! » Giveaway rules and details.

Oct 18

Halloween in Madrid

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Halloween is just around the corner. Are you all set? Here’s where you can get your Halloween candy and costumes in Madrid.

Halloween treats

If you’re craving Halloween candy from the States, look no further than American Food Corner, Be Sweet and Taste of America.

Newcomer American Food Corner has Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins and Cadbury’s Screme Eggs in addition to a whole bunch of sweet stuff like Blow Pops, Twizzlers, etc.

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The tried-and-true Taste of America has Brach’s Candy Corn and Spooky Nerds as well as Halloween themed baking goods.

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Check out Be Sweet too for a wide range of American candy.

Costumes

You can always hit up your corner chino for a cheap costume or make one yourself, but if you’re looking to take it up a notch, try Maty, Fiestas Paco or Barullo.

Pumpkins

Don’t forget to check your local fruteria for pumpkins. Small pumpkins have been spotted in Carrefours and El Corte Inglés supermarkets too.

» See them all on a map

Image credits: DeusXFlorida

Oct 16

Win a signed copy of Madrid: The History by Jules Stewart

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“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” - Michael Crichton

So hey there, leaf! Want to branch out from your guidebook level history of Madrid? Looking to eventually put down roots in “La Villa y Corte”? Up a tree about what “La Villa y Corte” means? Want me to nip this irritating series of idioms in the bud?

Ok, enough of that! We’re giving away two signed copies of Jules Stewart’s immensely enjoyable and highly readable Madrid: The History.

Related article: Author Jules Stewart unveils the history and culture of Madrid and Madrileños

There are two ways to join:

Twitter

  1. Follow @vayamadrid
  2. Use the hashtag #VMbookgiveaway and mention @vayamadrid​ in a tweet

Facebook

  1. Go to our Facebook page
  2. Like the post about the contest

Rules

  1. Contest is open to anyone who lives in Madrid.
  2. Winners are chosen randomly by a computerized script.
  3. One winner per social media network. For Twitter contest, limit one contest entry tweet per day.
  4. Contest is open until 23:59 of November 17, 2013.
  5. Winners will be announced on Twitter and Facebook respectively on the draw date, November 30, 2013 at 12:00.
  6. Winners are responsible for checking back on Twitter or Facebook to see if they have won. If the winner cannot is non-responsive after 5 business days, another winner will be drawn.
  7. Facebook and Twitter are not sponsors of this giveaway, but are simply the platforms chosen to run the promotion. By joining you free Facebook and Twitter of all liability.
  8. Prize to be claimed in Madrid city center.

Sep 20

Madrid-based blogger Annie Garcia’s crowdfunded dream

Right after my law firm announced a third round of layoffs I knew I had to get out. When the first round of firings were announced, I felt immense relief as the hiring (now firing) partner passed my office by, only to stop at my next-door neighbor’s door. I attended her impromptu going away smoke break, and counted my lucky stars. The second wave resulted in similar waves of relief and a sense of value to the Firm. By the third round however, I realized that three months’ severance of my big firm salary could go a long way in covering my living costs for a while.

Despite the fact that I dodged the third axe, I was able to negotiate voluntary leave severance, and my then-boyfriend Sergio and I hit the road, first on a road trip from our home state of Texas to New York, where we would sell our car on Craigslist, pack up our 2 pups and then fly off to Spain to begin a new adventure. We landed in Madrid with the intention of taking a year-long break from real life. That was April 9, 2011.

With the freedom to do whatever I wanted, I found myself in the kitchen, playing with readily available Spanish ingredients and the flavors of my new home. Then, after I got pregnant and overcome with cravings for the familiar flavors of my Southern heritage, I began recreating comfort foods like chicken fried steak, shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes. This time in the kitchen eventually led to my blog, Gambas and Grits, a nod to the pairing of my Texas tastebuds with my Madrid address.

Spending time in the kitchen, I also realized the need for a better grater. Having left most of my kitchen toys in storage, I bought the standard box grater in a mega Ikea shopping frenzy. I soon longed for my mouli, a rotary grater produced in the 1940’s by the French company Moulinex that my mom had found on eBay and gifted me years earlier. I searched the various European eBay sites for the mouli and eventually found one, but realized that, while it was far superior to anything else on the market, it still had some design flaws that could be fixed. Plus, from an aesthetic perspective, it looked antiquated.

Against the backdrop of my life- a camping trip to Asturias, the replacement of my beloved Kitchen Aid stand mixer, the birth of my son, to name a few- these realizations led me to design the Gourmand’s Grater. A descendant of the mouli, it is a handheld, hand-crank rotary grater that grates better than anything else out there, in addition to grinding coffee beans and milling baby food. It has been described as a kitchen tool that “looks like a Kitchen-Aid mixer crashed into a ‘56 Ford Fairlane” and has been submitted to Bon Appetit’s gift-giving guide.

I am trying to raise the funds for the first production run right now in a crowfunding campaign that ends in 5 days. You can learn more of my story and the Gourmand’s Grater at http://igg.me/at/gourmandsgrater.

Sep 18

Netball in Madrid for women

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Netball Madrid is in its 3rd year and is looking to recruit players on a regular basis to be part of our team/club, play inter-team matches and regional/national/international matches in Madrid and abroad. We meet every Saturday at 10.30am-12.30pm in La Chopera Polideportivo - Retiro Park. Netball is a widely recognised sport from the UK, played in Australia, NZL, South Africa, etc. but we are scouting for players who may or may not have experience. All are welcome! We also organise several social outings during the year. We are the official team of Madrid! The fee per game is €3.50 payable upon arrival, females only.

Here is our video:

What is netball?

Netball is similar to basketball but it’s a non-contact sport and once you have received the ball, you cannot move your feet and must pass to your team member within 3 seconds. Only 2 people can shoot goals (goal attack and goal shooter, with goal shooter staying in the semi circle mainly). It’s 14 minutes long and we usually play 4 x sets of games which last around an hour in total.

There are 7 players a side too, 3 defenders, 3 attackers and a centre position who attacks and defends and has to run the most.

Any players can inbox me on Facebook or friend me (by friending me I add you to the netball group we have on Facebook).

Post by Charlotte Lloyd

Image credits: Design Bridge

Cannabis is decriminalized in Spain

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Wonder about all of those grow shops around Madrid? It turns out, it’s perfectly legally to sell seeds and grow marijuana in the privacy of your own home and for your own personal use in Spain. It’s still illegal to buy the finished product and smoke it out in the open, for which you could be fined but won’t go to jail. If you’re selling it, however, that’s a criminal offense.

According to HuffPo, “The Spanish decriminalisation policy tolerates the ‘personal possession of 2 plants and has allowed the creation of more than 300 cannabis co-operatives.’”

Barcelona even hosts marijuana celebration festivals and industry conventions like Spannabis and High Life Expo, making it number 5 on CNBC’s list of the World’s Top Marijuana Travel Destinations.

If you’re going to go green this way, be very careful as all it really takes is a phone call to the police from neighbor who doesn’t like you. Then the burden of proving that your plants are for personal use are on you.

There also seems to still be confusion about the decriminalization of marijuana in Spain as seen in this recent tweet by the national police:

Cultivar y disfrutar el césped, huerta, plantas o árboles es una buena afición. No confundas la botánica con la marihuana (CACA!): ES DELITO

— Policía Nacional (@policia)
September 15, 2013

"Delito" in Spanish can mean "crime", "felony" and "misdemeanor", according to WordReference.com.

Image credit: Martijn

Sep 17

According to Wikipedia, “Madrid is the European city with the highest number of trees and green surface per inhabitant and it has the second highest number of aligned trees in the world, with 248,000 units, only exceeded by Tokyo. Madrid’s citizens have access to a green area within a 15 minute walk. Since 1997, green areas have increased by 16%. At present, 8.2% of Madrid’s grounds are green areas, meaning that there are 16 m2 (172 sq ft) of green area per inhabitant, far exceeding the 10 m2 (108 sq ft) per inhabitant recommended by the World Health Organization.”
Image credits: David Sim
Interested in environment, green spaces and urban gardening in Madrid? Check out Not your garden-variety nature fix: Urban gardening and vertical gardens in Madrid on our main site.

According to Wikipedia, “Madrid is the European city with the highest number of trees and green surface per inhabitant and it has the second highest number of aligned trees in the world, with 248,000 units, only exceeded by Tokyo. Madrid’s citizens have access to a green area within a 15 minute walk. Since 1997, green areas have increased by 16%. At present, 8.2% of Madrid’s grounds are green areas, meaning that there are 16 m2 (172 sq ft) of green area per inhabitant, far exceeding the 10 m2 (108 sq ft) per inhabitant recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Image credits: David Sim

Interested in environment, green spaces and urban gardening in Madrid? Check out Not your garden-variety nature fix: Urban gardening and vertical gardens in Madrid on our main site.

Sep 11

This is not a monument dedicated to red tape in Parque Juan Carlos I.
Image credits: Fernando García
Read more: The surprising history of red tape and how the Spanish are able to bear it so well

This is not a monument dedicated to red tape in Parque Juan Carlos I.

Image credits: Fernando García

Read more: The surprising history of red tape and how the Spanish are able to bear it so well

Sep 05

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