17 Observations After Spending a Month in Madrid

Authored by:
Kate S.

Kate S.


1. When greeting a person, kiss the left cheek first. If you get this wrong, congratulations, you've just kissed someone on the lips.
2. WhatsApp is better than iMessage. Dear America, we need to jump on this train. People in Spain use it almost exclusively.
3. People stare. You notice a lady giving you the twice-over on the metro. Is your dress tucked into your underwear? Have you unwittingly done something culturally ignorant? Calm down (tranquila), she probably just likes your outfit.
4. Wave at the bus. If you don't, the driver will will not stop. You will then be late for dinner which is such a drag.
5. Catch a sunset at Siete Tetas. The best place to view a sunset in Madrid is on one of the seven hills in Parque de las Siete Tetas. This literally translates to "Park of the Seven Tits." The view is "the tits."
6. Learning a new language is hard. I've become quite talented at the, "I don't know what anyone is saying, but I'm happy to be here" smile.
7. Kids assume that you know famous people. I have never let anyone down more than when I told a little boy that I did not know Will Smith personally.
8. Everyone has a dog here except for me. Several dogs in Retiro Park have tried to console me, but their owners have hurried them along. I'm left with outstretched hands whispering "Come back" a la Rose at the end of Titanic.
9. Apparently, I'm blending in. I have been approached several times by kind people speaking to me in rapid Spanish. I'm sticking with the "No hablo español, lo siento," bit for awhile longer. I have not accidentally sold a kidney or agreed to mediocre dinner plans yet, so huzzah.
10. The tap water in Madrid is the most underrated quality of Spain. Juan Ponce de León left Spain to look for the Fountain of Youth in Florida, but if it's anywhere, it's in Madrid.
Insider tip: If you want water, ask for agua del grifo (tap water). Otherwise, they give you a bottle of water that costs money. The waiter won't be thrilled, but choose agua del grifo for the planet and your wallet.
11. Ask the waiter for the check. If you're too scared to do this, you will sit in that chair for the rest of your life. You will see sunrises, sunsets, the changing of seasons, possibly a tender restaurant engagement, but you will never see the bill if you don't ask for it.
12. I have yet to see a pickup truck in Spain. My hometown is the unofficial capital of camo-painted pickup trucks, so I had to make this observation for the folks back home. I have no idea where they store their rubber boots, but I'm keeping an eye out, y'all.
13. Dry heat is the worst. With no humidity, the air sucks the moisture out of your body causing you to feel exhausted. Hence, the Spanish have siestas. Bloody brilliant.
14. Everyone smells amazing. Except when they don't. But for the most part, everyone wears killer perfume/cologne.
15. I'm surrounded by night owls. Lunch is at around 2:00 pm, dinner at 10:00 pm. If you're into Spanish nightlife, prepare to start your night at 1:00 am and head home at 6:00 am. [hysterically laughing as I tuck myself into bed at 11:00 pm]
16. The shoe game here is strong. If you walk out of your house in tennis shoes or flip flops, you'd better be going for a run or to the beach, you lazy slob.
17. If someone tells you there's too much fresh-squeezed lemon juice on their paella, begin the rites of exorcism immediately.
This country is the tits.

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