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Travel tips
When we travel, it’s important to have a basic notion on how people live in our destination. Things like what and when to eat, what time the sun sets or what is considered polite are sometimes as important as it is knowing the main attractions or what is the opening time of that mandatory museum. Here you have a few of the most common mistakes that people make visiting Spain:



1. Not leaving tip

In Spain, bills don’t include tip. It’s important to consider this if you are going to pay the bill in any restaurant. Before you go, consider giving some euros as a tip. There is no fixed percent as in other countries but, make sure not to give too little!




2.Assuming everyone speaks English

 

Not everyone in Spain speaks English. Although there is a certainly fair amount of spaniards who can fluently chat in english, that is not the case for everyone, specially for the eldest. Your trip can be a great chance to learn a few words of Spanish! The Spaniards will feel happy about your effort, and maybe speak a little English for you.

 

Madrid has tons of wonderful, local spots for coffee, cheaper and really authentic, including Misión café, hola café, La Bicicleta, Mama Framboise, Toma Cafe, Cafelito, Pum Pum and La Colectiva Café where you can have a more authentic and local experience. Also, some of them have amazing vegetarian and vegan experiences.

They serve coffee almost in any bar o restaurant, but the varieties can be a little overwhelming. So here is a little guide to help you out:

If you want your milk room temperature or just warm, you should tell your bartender. If not you’ll probably are be going to get a really hot coffee

  • Café con leche: coffee with milk. Often served in a big glass (for breakfast) or mug
  • Café solo: a small espresso shot
  • Café cortado: a small espresso shot with a dash of milk
  • Café largo/Americano: large cup of coffee
  • Caliente/templado/ frío: Hot/warm/cold
  • Leche Desnatada/Leche sin lactosa/ Leche soja: Skim/lactose-free/soy milk



4. Not considering the different usual schedule

In Spain, lunch, and dinner hours are different. We take their our time to get there! If you feel hungry, you can always order some tapas before dinner for example, or eat brunch before lunch. A local person usually eats from 2:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m. Dinner time starts at 9:00 p.m. and the kitchens are open at least until 11:00 p.m, but they usually are open even longer.

Even so, one advantage of staying at a Heima Homes it’s the independence of being able to fill your fridge to lunch or dinner whenever you want.


5. Relaxing too much over your personal belongings

Even though Madrid is known as one of the safest cities in Europe, and you could walk alone in the city even at night without issues, pickpocketers are are small exception that is endemic to every big city in the world. Any sign of distraction can be an opportunity to stole your bag, if you are unlucky. Be sure to pay attention to your belongings and save your wallet and important stuff well. Anything that you don’t need during the day, and it’s important, leave it in the room. Check your bags are closed and stay alert. Nothing Special Ops or fancy, don get scared. Just the common sense you’ll have in your own city.

These are some of the mistakes travelers usually make in Spain! Follow the guidance and have incredible travel!

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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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Explore Madrid, Heima news, Travel tips

Heima homes has a new flat where you can enjoy a perfect holidays in the best location you can expect: “Barrio de Salamanca”. It’s a place where you can find the most famous stores to enjoy your holidays and also very near of one of the biggest parks in the city: “El Retiro”. 

Barrio de Salamanca

District of Salamanca, Madrid. 


The district of Salamanca it’s one of the 21 districts that form the municipality of Madrid. It owes its name to its builder, José de Salamanca y Mayol, who made one of the most beautiful architectural zone of Madrid. It has 5,38 km² which makes an extensive neighborhood, perhaps it is very well connected by metro or bus. 

Platea Madrid: the biggest gastronomic & leisure centrePlatea Madrid: the biggest gastronomic & leisure centre. 

It has become one of the most important commercial areas of the city and one of the highest living standards in Europe with the largest luxury shopping area in Madrid. It also counts with the best restaurants, where you can taste the best gastronomy of Madrid. 


El Retiro 

El Retiro.

It is a historical garden and public park. Its considered one of the main tourist attractions of the city. It houses many architectural, sculptural and landscape ensembles. El Retiro is the best place to escape from the city and enjoy the nature that offers the 118 hectares. Its also a good place to make some physical activity or to take some pictures. It counts with 19.000 trees of 167 different species, so if you are a person who loves nature, this is your place.



Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), El Retiro. 

The Crystal Palace is one of our favorite architectonic place in Madrid. The crystal makes this palace a unique building that you can visit for free. 
Its opened the whole year so it doesn’t matter the season or the moment you visit Madrid, because you can always enjoy this beautiful place. 

Book it now here and enjoy the city! 

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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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Travel tips

Nowadays, smartphones are a big part of our lives. You can find apps for socialising, business, leisure and many other things. Here is a selection of our favourite travel apps to help you make the most out of your stay in Madrid.

 

 

Metro de Madrid 

If we had to choose a way to move around Madrid, it would definitely be by Metro. It is affordable, fast and clean and it connects the main touristic attractions of the city. The app is available in English, French, German, Chinese and it provides the regular Metro map plus a tourist map with the main attractions of the city in relation to the Metro stops. Plus, you will be able to check the rates, create your own routes and calculate how long will it take to get from one point to another.


 

 

EMT

If you prefer to move around the city by bus, EMT’s app is essential. It allows you to plan the best route to get to your destination, check how many minutes it will take the bus to arrive to your stop and you can also get notifications in case of delay or breakdown. It is definitely one of the best apps to get around in Madrid.

 

 

 

My Taxi

Do you prefer to get a cab to move around the city? This app allows you to request a taxi directly from your phone. You can even reserve it in advance without extra fees, which might be handy if you’ve got an early morning flight. Plus you will be able to pay through the app and get the receipt by email.

 

 

Moovit

Moovit is the app that offers the most precise public transit information. The app shows you the best way to get from one point to another using all the available public transport systems: Metro, bus, railway… Simply input a starting location and a destination and Moovit will offer directions and notify you when you’re getting close to your stop.

 

 

 

Google Translate

Are you travelling to Madrid and you don’t speak a word of Spanish? Are you concerned about not being able to translate the items on the menu? Stop worrying! Google Translate allows you to instantly translate written text between languages in real time. Have in mind that this is an automated translation service and given the fact that Spanish is a really complex language, be prepared in case the translation leads to a funny misunderstanding. We spaniards love this kind of misunderstanding 😉

 

 
 
Guia Punto

This app is a complete guide to the city of Madrid and it helps you decide which activities to take part in. You can search for bars, clubs, galleries and cultural centres, shopping, historical places and many more. The app includes a wide variety of places that are very popular among locals.

 

 
 
Madrid Travel Guide – eTips

We know sometimes it is hard to choose which sites to visit and which to skip, but don’t worry, Madrid 360º app will assist you to decide which spots make it to your must-visit list. Thanks to the fully interactive 360 degree images it is possible to discover monuments, streets, gardens, churches and other major sites. The app also provides brief historical descriptions of each spot and recommendations for things to see and do in the surrounding area. Definitely, a must for sightseers.

 

 
 
El Tenedor (The Fork)

If you want to eat out in Madrid but have no idea where to go and need some inspiration, use El Tenedor, an app where you can search restaurants by location, cuisine and discount. The app allows you to find great deals on weekdays and make online reservations through the app . A must-have app for foodies.

 

 
 
XE Currency Converter

This is a very useful app to make sure you always know the exchange rates and help you to get fair deals when changing money. You can convert every world currency and you can also use the app offline by saving the last updated rates, which is great if you have limited connectivity or trying to save on data.

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