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Explore Madrid, Spanish Traditions
1. Go to a Christmas market

Nothing better to feel the christmas like a Christmas market.

The one in the main square is the most famous, but beware, it is also the busiest. The center of Madrid can be a bit overwhelming on weekends and holidays, and this situation increases significantly during these dates. This is a market composed of more than 100 booths dedicated to the sale of traditional Christmas products: nativity scenes, sweets, decorations and the big star for children, joke items.

 

If you want to get closer to a market where you can move more smoothly, you have the independent design market Nómada Market, Christmas edition. In the Market of the barley and only for a few days (December 14, 15 and 16) you will be able to get the creations of many artists, also, you can find street food and fun activities.

El Rastro is the best-known market in Madrid on Sundays throughout the year, and at Christmas it is not far behind. It is located in the neighborhood of La Latina and is so well known that, if you miss the map, anyone from Madrid can tell you how to get there.





2. Ice skating

In winter, several places are enabled to enjoy this fun activity in Madrid. The main and best-qualified place is the ice palace, and also the one that is open the longest during the year.



On these dates you can also find “Pop Up” tracks through different parts of the city. Perhaps the most spectacular is the Crystal Gallery of the Cibeles Palace, where children and adults can enjoy a 400m² track next to a large Christmas tree.




3. Watch a Christmas play or musical

Nothing better to take refuge from the cold and escape from the world than to go to see a play, or for the most musical, listen to it. In Madrid the offer is huge: from classic Christmas stories like the nutcracker, to more modern plays. Another good option is to choose a holidays that is not related in terms of themes with Christmas but which are especially enjoyable during these dates. Like the super blockbusters as The Lion King. You will find tickets for practically everything in ticketea.



4.The Navibus

Are you crazy about Christmas lights? Well now there is a double-decker bus with a duration of 50-60 minutes that will show you the most magical part of Madrid illuminated by the lights while actors tell you the legends that accompany the tour. Here you have the offer tickets.


5. Visit Madrid Río

Madrid Río dresses as a Christmas from December 21st at 7:00 pm, starting with a light parade, from there on there will be concerts, shows… it will even be transformed into a great ballroom on December 30th. In Matadero Madrid there will be a lot of activities, mostly free, that we leave here.





6. Museums for childrens

Whenever you visit a city, you like to see some museums. But doing it with children can complicate things. Do not worry, many of the museums in Madrid are totally adapted to the taste of the youngest of the house. The Prado Museum has an itinerary for children, with a children’s audio guide available on its official website. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has an initiative for children called EducaThyssen and a large number of museums follow them.



Christmas is a good time to take advantage of these initiatives since in these dates there are more events and workshops than in any other.

Happy holidays from Heima Homes!


 

 

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Explore Madrid, Spanish Traditions, Travel tips

Spring is a wonderful season of the year, it warms up and the sun brightens our days. That’s why we recomend you some amazing places where you can go if you visit Madrid in spring.

1. Botanic Garden
Our first recommendation is The Botanic Garden. For a price of 2€, you have access to a unique plant collection in a very special environment. Spring is it’s best moment, because  the plants reach their maximum beauty. You can find it in Atocha, a very centric place easily accesible from all our Heima Homes.

 Botanic Garden of Madrid.

2. Museums
One of the most important atractions of a city is the cultural life you can find in it, that’s why we think visiting a museum could be a very enriching activity. The 3 most important museums of Madrid are: Museo Reina Sofía, Museo del Prado and Museo Thyssen. They have the most important spanish artworks and they are very close to each other, so if you are an art lover, you can not miss them!


 

3. El Rastro
Spending a morning in El Rastro of Madrid is a typical sunday plan. It’s a market with more than 400 years of history. Depending on the zone we are walking by, we can find different stuff, for example handcrafted items, new and vintage clothing, accesories, second hand CDs and magazines. All of these in a very cheerful and crowded enviroment.

  Second hand vinyls. 

4. “Ir de pinchos”

Spain is a country with strong gastronomic traditions and foundations. One of it’s stepping stones is ir de pinchos, which is basically making a route from bar to bar asking for a wine or beer together with a pincho, a piece of bread with delicious and sometimes incredibly complex food on top of it, something similar to the famous tapa. Although pinchos are typical specially in the north of Spain, Madrid is full of amazing places to taste them and substitute a classic structured meal with this playful and tasty tradition.

5. Escape
If you have extra days in Madrid you can always make a scape to other nearby cities. You can go and return on the same day so it’s a practical option you can always keep in mind. The most typical proposals are Segovia, Ávila or Toledo. They have a very beautiful storic center so they’re perfect to rest from the big city.

 

 
If you need more activity ideas, ask us! We’ll happy to give you some extra tips 😉

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Spanish Traditions, Travel tips

Christmas is a very special celebration in Spain and, as in every country, we also have our own traditions, although we’ve included other popular customs over the years.
Here’s what we do different from other countries:



Christmas Lottery

In Spain we love lottery, and Christmas is the best excuse to buy some, this tradition started the 22nd of December in 1812 and, for many Spanish people, that day of December is when the christmas officially starts. Every 22nd at 9:15 am, families gathers around the television where the national tv channel broadcast this special event.

In Madrid, you can find Doña Manolita (Calle del Carmen, 22) the greatest lottery establishment in Spain. You’ll always find very long lines of people in queue, especially since October, who wants to buy this christmas lottery. Don’t expect this to be a huge building, it’s a very small establishment.  


Christmas Eve

We call the night of the 24th of December “Nochebuena” which means “Good Night” and during this, family and friends always gather to have a very big dinner together that usually begin with some starters, after that two main dishes, dessert and last but not least, some traditional Spanish Christmas sweets like “turrón”, “polvorones”, “mazapanes”, and “mantecados”, most of these made out of almond dough.

After dinner, all the principal tv channels stop what they are broadcasting for the king’s speech.

This night there are some families that decide they want to celebrate Santa Claus as an english influence. Over the years this tradition is more common in Spain.



New year’s eve
We call this night “Nochevieja” which means “Old Night” and, in this case, the most special tradition is to eat 12 grapes, one by one each second during the 12 last before 00:00 of the 1st of January. This tradition is called “Las 12 campanadas” (12 strikes) and it was established in 1909. We like to believe that if we eat all of the grapes, we’ll have good luck in the new year that is starting.



Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day)

Los Reyes Magos (the three kings) are the ones who bring us gifts instead of Santa Claus, and they do it during the night of the 5th of January.

Everybody is very excited for that day, so during the day, every city celebrates the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos, which is a procession where the three kings: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar greet and give sweets to all the children. After that the kids give their favorite king their wishlist letters where they explain how good they’ve been that year and what they’d like as a gift.

That night everyone has to go to sleep early in order to wake up ever earlier and see what the three kings have brought for the family. It’s a special day, so family and friends gather to  celebrate and, as always, that means eating! You can not miss trying El Roscón de Reyes, the famous king cake, similar to a big bagel, which hides surprises inside, and each one of them means something.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Or how we say it: ¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

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Spanish Traditions

When thinking about Spain, two of the first things that come to people’s mind is “fiesta and siesta”.  These two elements are a very important part of the Spanish culture, however, there are other interesting habits and aspects of the Spanish culture you might want to know before you visit Madrid. We’ve made a short selection of the unique habits of the Spanish people and culture.



1. Siesta

Let’s start with the most well-known habit – siesta. Although “siesta” means “nap”, most Spaniards do not actually sleep in the middle of the day in major cities. Instead, during siesta time -from 2pm to 4:30pm approximately- most small shops close and people go home to have lunch and relax with their families. After siesta people go back to work until 9pm.

 

2. Meals

While in most countries dinner is the largest meal of the day, in Spain it’s actually lunch, which usually starts around 2:30pm. Dinner time is usually around 9pm to 11pm, and in the meantime you can go for tapas so you don’t have to starve to death! In this regard, and as a general rule of thumb, try to avoid restaurants with pictures of food, usually the food is not very good. 

 

3. No tips necessary 

Tipping in Spain is optional and not very common. Spaniards generally never tip and if they do it’s an insignificant amount because there’s usually a service charge included in the bill. However, if you do want to tip always use cash instead of credit card, otherwise the money will go directly to the owner.

 

4. Greetings

Spaniards greet each other with two kisses, one on each cheek. If it’s the first time you meet someone from Spain, usually they would start the interaction with two kisses. However, men usually greet other men with a friendly handshake. Keep in mind that in a professional environment the usual greeting is a handshake, despite the gender. 

 

5. Party 

Let’s finish this list with the other most known habit – fiesta. Spaniards are well-known for mastering the art of partying. People usually gather around midnight and go to a friend’s house, a bar or a park to drink. Clubs usually fill up around 2am-3am and people leave at around 6am or even later! Some people even have breakfast in a bar after partying and before going back home.

 

Keep in mind that this is just a list of the general things Spaniards do and there are many other unique aspects to the culture.

*Illustration: James Rae

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