7 feb. 2017

Discover Madrid's fascinating exhibitions!

Calling all you art lovers out there! As you probably know, Madrid has some of the world’s most famous museums. What maybe you didn’t know is what’s going on at these museums this month so here are a few just to whet your appetite then you can go out and explore for yourselves!

Metapintura. Un viaje a la idea del arte.

This exhibition is one of a four-part series during the last few years (the other exhibitions: Rubens (2010), Captive Beauty (2013) and Goya in Madrid (2014)) which has offered visitors to take a closer look at the museum’s own collections and encourages them to interpret the art in a new way. This exhibition not only celebrates the Prado’s 197 year anniversary, but also the origins of artistic activity in the Modern Age, focusing on mythological and relig
ious narratives right through to the relationship between art, the artist and society. Marking the 400th anniversary since Cervantes’ death, the exhibition also has a section on Don Quixote and so this is a great exhibition to visit if you’re keen to learn more about Spanish history, culture and art!
Where: Museo del Prado, Paseo del Prado (nearest metro Banco de España)
On until: 19th February 2017

Sorolla in Paris

This exhibition’s focus is on the international success of one of Spain’s most famous and appreciated artists: Joaquin Sorolla. It showcases Sorolla’s works from his exhibitions in Paris, Cologne, Berlin, Dusseldorf and London in which he won various prestigious international awards. The exhibition aims to allow the visitor to appreciate Sorolla’s originality and modernity through his techniques as well as follow his journey as an artist throughout time. Another brilliant way to immerse yourself into the Spanish culture through educating yourself about one of Spain’s best-known artists!

Where: Museo Sorolla, Paseo General Martínez Campos, 37 (nearest metro Rubén Darío)
Open until: 19th March 2017

El Arte de Saber Ver

At the Fundación Francisco Giner de los Ríos, this exhibition looks at the role of educator and art historian Manuel Bartolome Cossió in the development of contemporary Spanish culture. The main areas of focus in this exhibition are; the city of Toledo,

El Greco, as well as the history of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (Free Educational Institute) and it boasts a variety of over 300 different works from famous artists, most notably El Greco. El arte de saber ver offers a great opportunity to learn about Spanish history and culture through a different perspective!

Where: La Fundación Francisco Giner de los Ríos, Paseo General Martínez Campos, 14 (nearest metro Iglesia)
Open until: 23rd April 2017

If what you have read above really grabs your attention, then make sure you check out our Spanish and Art course here at AIL Madrid! It will both explore your creative side as well as improve your Spanish language skills all in the cultural epicenter of Spanish life!

26 ene. 2017

A Short Stay in Madrid

With Madrid offering so many amazing cultural, historical and gastronomic activities it can seem impossible to figure out what you want to squeeze into a short stay. Here we have devised a list of what we think are the best that this city has to offer and the perfect sites to see if you only have limited time in this beautiful city!

1. Royal Palace and Plaza de Oriente
2. Mercado de San Miguel
3. Plaza Mayor
4. Parque Retiro
5. Gran Vía

Royal Palace of Madrid 

The Royal Palace
Dating back to the ninth century, the Royal Palace of Madrid is widely considered to be one of Europe’s most impressive palaces. Still today it is used for state functions and banquets despite the Spanish Royal Family living in Zarzuela Palace, located on the outskirts of Madrid. The interior of the palace boasts a wide variety of rich materials, for example; Spanish marble, stucco and mahogany although the decoration of the palace has changed a lot, complying with the varying artistic trends of the times.

Nearest metro: Opera

Opening hours: October – March: 10.00-18.00 and April – September: 10.00-20.00

Entry cost: General admission 11 Euros, reduced admission 6 Euros
Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel

The San Miguel Market offers a huge variety of food and drink to suit everyone’s tastes. From traditional Spanish plates such as paella or croquets to international cuisine such as pasta and cheese bars, the San Miguel Market offers something for everyone. There is a lot of space available at bars, tables and chairs so you can enjoy your food and soak up the atmosphere of the market at the same time.

Nearest metro: Opera

Opening hours: Mon-Wed: 10.00-00.00, Thurs-Sat: 10.00-02.00 and Sunday: 10.00-00.00

Entry cost: free

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s most famous sites and was built between 1598 and 1621 during Felipe III’s reign. Its outside is surrounded by a variation of traditional Spanish shops whilst inside the main plaza it holds a whole host of restaurants serving traditional Spanish dishes. Whilst you’re in Plaza Mayor, make sure to get a bocadillo de calamares, a very famous sandwich in Madrid and Plaza Mayor is home to some of the best and most famous restaurants that serve them. Sit and eat your bocadillo de calamares in Plaza Mayor with a beer and watch the world go by!

Nearest metro: Opera

Opening hours: always open

Entry cost: free

Parque Retiro

Parque Retiro on a beautiful day!
Parque Retiro is a stunning 125 hectare area of green space offering various sporting activities for everyone. There is a large lake with rowing boats and endless open space to run and roller skate, as well as gym equipment! Retiro also boasts a whole range of gardens, most notably the Jardín de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez and The Rose Gardens. It is also home to some stunning palaces, such as the Palacio de Cristal which used to be used for housing exotic plants, however is now used to showcase exhibitions.

Nearest metro: Retiro (line 2)

Entry cost: free

Gran Vía

Gran Vía is Madrid’s main street, located right in the centre of the city. It is one of Madrid’s most famous and important shopping areas, as well as the home of many hotels, cinemas, theatres and restaurants. Whilst in Madrid you have to walk down Gran Vía and admire the amazing architecture as well as check out some of the shops! If you keep walking down until the end, you’ll reach Calle Alcalá, another one of Madrid’s largest streets and also home to the impressive town hall.

Nearest metro: Gran Vía (line 1 and 5) and Callao (lines 3 and 5)

Entry cost: free

Having read all this, you may be thinking to yourself that you’d love to come but you don’t speak Spanish. This doesn’t have to be a problem! Check out all the different courses that AIL Madrid offers here – you’ll definitely find one that fits your schedule!

20 ene. 2017

Student life in Madrid!

Hi there!  If you don’t know what to do or where to go during your stay in Madrid, here are some of the best places according to one of our students; she has so much to tell us so let’s get started!

Best bars and clubs

1. Circulo de Bellas Artes

This has been mine and my friends’ go-to bar throughout my time in Madrid. The bar provides you with a 360 view of Madrid and a relaxed, informal atmosphere so it’s the perfect place to enjoy the sunset and some casual drinks at the end of the day!
Metro: Banco de España (line 2)

2. Platea

Platea is one of my absolute favourite bars if I want a bit more of a fancy place, perfect for an occasion like a birthday. Serving every drink under the sun, from a caña to exquisite cocktails, Platea serves something to everyone’s taste. It also has a great restaurant on the bottom floor with an extensive menu, as well as endless tapas counters scattered around making it even more appealing!
Metro: Serrano (line 4) or Colon (line 4)

3. Espit Chupitos

As is in the name, Espit Chupitos specializes in serving shots which are sure to start your night off in style. Altogether it serves over 600 different types of shots (a personal favourite of mine and my friends´ is the cannabis absinthe shot), cocktails and other drinks in unimaginable flavours and so with 2 euro shots and mainstream chart music playing throughout the bar; it’s a great place to go for some fun before heading to the club.
Metro: San Bernardo (line 2)

4. Teatro Kapital

Kapital is one of Madrid’s most exclusive nightclubs and I still haven’t been to all of its floors! The slightly elevated entry price is worth it, especially in a big group. You can get there early and enjoy a drink on the 7th floor rooftop bar and stay there until the early hours of the morning dancing away to the different types of music played on each floor. Although I don’t go to Kapital very often, it’s my favourite place to go for a birthday or a big night!
Metro: Atocha (line 1)

5. Joy Eslava

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper and more casual night out than Kapital can provide, Joy Eslava is a good bet. However, just because it is cheaper and more casual than Barcelo or Kapital, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less boring. There are 4 floors and it is open 6 days a week so is my go-to for a spontaneous night out!
Metro: Opera (lines 2 or 5)

Best places to eat

1. Mercado San Miguel

This is hands down my favourite place to eat in Madrid. It offers a huge variety of food and it is all fresh and is reasonably priced. Perfect for whether you want just a caña and some quick tapas or whether you and your friends want to go to have paella.
Metro: Sol (lines 1, 2 or 3) or Opera (lines 2 or 5)

2. Casa Maravillas

Casa Maravillas is great because it serves a great variety of food and drinks. The restaurant always has a great atmosphere and is the perfect setting to catch up with your group of friends. I really enjoy the ‘Spanish vibe’ that the music and decoration gives to the place.
Metro: Príncipe de Vergara (lines 2 or 9)

3. 100 Montaditos

100 Montaditos is the definition of the Spanish phrase ‘bueno, bonito, barato’. My friends and I always go to a 100 Montaditos to have some cheap drinks and food. Another great thing about 100 Montaditos is that every Wednesday and Sunday, the whole menu, food and drinks, is 1 euro. It provides the perfect hangover cure on a Sunday after a heavy Saturday night!
Metro: various, these are all over Madrid!

4. El Tigre

With a free portion of tapas coming with every drink, you really can’t go wrong in El Tigre. The atmosphere is buzzing and I love spending my Friday nights here catching up with my friends after a week studying. It’s a great place to absorb the Spanish culture with beer and typical Spanish plates!
Metro: Chueca (line 5)

10 ene. 2017

Changes on the 'red half' of Madrid!

Antoinne Griezmann celebrating after
yet another goal
On the face of it, not much seems to have changed at Athletico Madrid this season. They’re still faring well in La Liga (4th after 17 games, 5 points behind their rivals Real Madrid), they’re still in with a shout of getting their hands on the Champions League and the Copa del Rey and Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann are scoring the majority of their goals (14 goals between them in La Liga this season so far). However behind the scenes, a lot has been going on.

New Stadium

The main reason behind Athletico's decision to move home is that El Vicente Calderón lacks the possibility for expansion - it has a river and a motorway on one side and a residential area on the other. The new ground is getting built on the site of Estadio La Peineta which was originally going to be built for the Olympics. However, as Madrid failed to win both the 2020 and 2024 bids, part of the original stadium has been used for the new one. The whole project is estimated at costing the club around €200 million.

Description of Athletico’s new home

The Wanda Metropolitano
It’s being built on the up in the north-east of the city near Madrid’s airport and its closest metro will be Estadio Olímpico (Line 7 (Orange)). It will have a capacity of around 67,000 which clearly shows that the club has not tried to compete with the likes of the Camp Nou (Barcelona) or the Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid) in terms of capacity. Instead they decided to prioritize the comfort and enjoyment of their supporters by having more space in between the seats. There’s nothing worse than being at a football game and having your knees around your chest!

When will it be ready to go?

Like most massive projects, timings tend to slip. This has been no exception. The club initially stated that it would be completed at some point during 2015 but this was soon pushed back to 2017 due to a number of funding issues. Let’s hope we get to see the Rojiblancos run out onto their new home turf this year!

Thinking behind its name

The new stadium has been named the Wanda Metropolitano. Let’s look at the reasons behind this: firstly, its first name ‘Wanda’ has been named so for commercial reasons. Commercialization is something that football and football fans are going to have to get used to: think about The Etihad (Manchester City), The Emirates Stadium (Arsenal). It’s happening all around us and we can’t stop it. The second half of the name comes from the stadium that Athletico called home until 1966 – El Estado Metropolitano de Madrid. We will discuss the reaction to this change later on in the article.

New badge design

The old and new badges
Those powerful people at the top of the Athletico Madrid pyramid clearly see the migration to a new stadium as a new era for the club and have also decided to slightly modify the badge. In the grand scheme of things, the modifications are not drastic. The corners at the top have been rounded off whilst ‘el Oso y el Madroño’ are now completely blue. The designers of the badge, Vasava, have said that the new design with its rounder edges seeks to ‘represent the club’s traditional values while also looking to the future.’ Athletico’s captain, Gabi likes the look of the new badge saying that ‘it’s true to our history.’ The badge will come into use for the 2017/18 season.

Reaction to the changes

As always, changes as significant as these are not welcomed by all. With regard to the Wanda Metropolitano, the name itself seems to have irritated a number of loyal supporters. This is mainly down to its first name, ‘Wanda’. It’s a commercial name and to many fans, the Metropolitano part has been added simply to appease them. Although it sounds like a good idea to add this little bit of history into the name, it perhaps would have been better to use a name like ‘Calderón’ in order to appeal to the modern fan. In terms of the crest, it has also been met by mixed reviews. This was inevitable especially as it comes at the same time as the change of stadium and fans all over the world like stability. This unwillingness to accept significant changes to two of the most important aspects of the club’s identity is totally understandable! Head down to your local bar this week and practise your Spanish opinions by discussing these massive changes with the fans themselves!

Next match

As mentioned above, Athletico are sitting 4th in La Liga after victory against SD Eibar on Saturday. They would have perhaps preferred to be a little higher in the table at this stage in the season given the quality running through their squad however there is still a long way to go. Their next game is this Saturday against Real Betis, a game which they’ll be hoping to win in order to close in on their high-flying neighbors, Real Madrid.

2 ene. 2017

El Día de Los Reyes Magos is upon us!

The holidays still aren’t over in Spain! El Día de Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day), otherwise known as Epiphany in English speaking countries, is even more important than Christmas here in Spain. It is the celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings into Bethlehem and it takes place on 6th January.
The celebrations actually begin on the evening of 5th January with the Calbagata de los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings’ Parade) – it is one of the most important and special events of the year in the Spanish calendar. However, before we go into the details of the celebrations themselves, it's worth looking at the history of this significant event.


The arrival of the Three Kings!
In religious tradition, El Día de Los Reyes Magos marks the day that the Three Kings, also known as the Three Wise Men, arrived in Bethlehem having followed the North Star across the desert for twelve days. They came to Bethlehem to give gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. In 1885 the Spanish government decided to mark the Epiphany with a parade and thus it remains a beloved tradition and the longest standing parade in Spain.

The Celebrations

As we said before, the party actually begins in the evening of 5th January with the Three Kings’ Parade. In Madrid, La Castellana, one of the main streets running down through the heart of the city, is shut down for the arrival of the Kings. Hundreds of families and friends seek out the best spots along the road in order to get a good view of the reenactment of their arrival! If you want a good view, we recommend planning ahead and heading down there early – it’s definitely worth it! The atmosphere is incredible as the Kings ride through on horses or extravagant floats, dishing out sweets to the crowd, surrounded by camels, musicians and acrobats. If you’re in Madrid, you must go and admire this amazing spectacle – we cannot recommend it enough!
Los Reyes Magos
After the procession, everyone goes home with a sugar rush from all the sweets and the children, very excited, leave out their shoes for the Kings to find and leave presents in. They also leave food and drink for each of the Kings and their camels! As you've probably noticed, it’s very similar to the tradition of Santa Claus – we all know how exciting it is!


A Roscón de Reyes
As with almost every Spanish fiesta, food plays a vital role! It’s traditional to eat a Roscón de Reyes for breakfast on the 6th which is a ring shaped cake decorated with fruits. Two plastic objects are hidden inside the cake: a faba bean and a King. Whoever picks the piece of cake with the king in it is said to have good luck for the rest of the year whilst the unlucky one who pulls out the faba bean has to pay for the cake! Be sure to get your Roscón de Reyes this week and join in with the Spanish tradition!

We hope you have a wonderful day on the 6th and we wish you a happy New Year from all of us here at AIL Madrid!!

29 dic. 2016

New Year's Eve in Madrid!

La Puerta del Sol
Happy Christmas AIL Madrid students! Now that Christmas is over, the next thing to look forward to is New Year’s Eve! As you might expect, New Year’s Eve or Nochevieja is an incredible time to be in Spain. It’s a very special and significant fiesta filled with excitement, noise, fun and tradition. If you’re lucky enough to be in Spain this weekend, make sure you practice your Spanish and soak up all the tradition and culture!

The 12 Grapes!
Saturday nights in Madrid are already some of the best nights out in the world so this Saturday, New Year’s Eve, promises to be something special. Thousands of people pack into the Puerta del Sol for the both the countdown and the incredible fireworks display. It’s a Spanish tradition that everyone eats twelve grapes, or doce uvas, for every strike of the clock in order to bring them luck for the next twelve months. You’ll see this going on in whichever Spanish city you happen to be celebrating. Another Spanish tradition on New Year’s Eve is dropping a gold object into a glass of Cava in order to bring not just good fortune but an actual fortune in the coming year. Be it a golden ring or a golden coin, it all goes in the glass! Then, in order for the charm to work, once the clock strikes midnight you have to drink the entire glass, retrieving your golden object. Give it a go this Saturday! Spaniards also say that in order to kick off the year on the right foot, your first step after the bells have chimed should be with your right foot. As you can see, midnight kisses alone won’t do you any good here in Spain!
Gold rings in the glasses of Cava

The party certainly does not end at midnight! Cava and cerveza flow in the hundreds of bars, restaurants and nightclubs across Madrid as the party spills onto the streets until the early hours of the morning. As the sun rises on New Year’s Day the churros con chocolate come flooding out as people reminisce on the events of the night before. Madrid really is a wonderful city in which to spend New Year’s Eve!