13 sept. 2016

Back to Madrid Community Fair, this Thursday at 7pm!

This Thursday marks the 3rd annual ‘Back to Madrid’ Community Fair, hosted by the British Benevolent Fund to benefit British expats in need. The fair itself promises to be bigger and more exciting than ever with a cash bar, live music, and dozens of English speaking activities / clubs, social groups, and expat owned local businesses offering info and welcoming smiles for Madrid newbies and veterans alike.

7 sept. 2016


We know that you love Madrid – its parks, museums, different districts, festivals, everything! Because of this, we want you to know every detail about this precious city so, today, we have chosen the very famous market called “El Rastro” (the trail).
Every Sunday morning, this market (which originally only sold second hand items) is put up in the La Latina district.

So, we bet you’re wondering where its name comes from! Well, history states that cows used to be taken along the Rivera de Curtidores (the main market street) from the slaughterhouse to the tanneries (the places where the animals´ skins are made into leather), and these cows used to leave behind a trail of blood along the way – hence the name, and yes, we know the story is a little sinister.

But, put history to one side for the moment! Now we are going to recount the charming truth about this great market, where you can spend a classic Sunday in Madrid. The truth is that El Rastro has become a place where you can find everything, literally everything that you can imagine from the most modern to the most ancient.
As usual, we want to play our part and have put together a recommended route that you can follow so you don’t miss out on any part of this marvelous place!

Image from: marta.boschroig1

1. You should start your visit at the top of the market where the closest metro station is La Latina, more specifically in the Plaza de Cascorro (specializing in alternative clothing and other accessories).

2. Then follow a route along the main street, the Rivera de Curtidores, through El Rastro, which is mostly downhill. Don’t be surprised to find that you can hardly move on the street… but this is Madrid my friends!

3. From there, you can check out any of the stands that grab your attention. On the other hand, if you want to start the visit at the bottom of the market, the closest metro stations are Puerta de Toledo or Embajadores.

There are specific areas within El Rastro but these are some of the most well-known:
Calle Fray Ceferino González: known as ‘la calle de los pájaros’ (birds) and a long time ago, it was dedicated to the selling of animals. Now however, there are only a few specialized shops.
Calle de San Cayetano: known as ‘la calle de los pintores’ (painters) because here you can find shops that sell the most fantastic paintings and painting materials.
Calle de Rodas, Plaza del General Vara del Rey y Plaza de Campillo del Mundo Nuevo: these are a few charming streets where you can buy and sell magazines, card games and typical card collections from our parents’ and grandparents’ eras.
Image from: La chica de las luces 
Calle del Carnero y Calle de Carlos Arniches: for those who love reading, this area is for you. Here, ancient books are sold which we are sure cannot be bought anywhere else.
The market does not have a definitive timetable, but the stands are put from about 9.00 am and are taken down at about 3.00 pm. So, if you intend to see everything, you will have to get up a little earlier in order to make the most of the morning!
And, when you finish your long walk through El Rastro need to boost your strength, don’t worry! The area is full of little bars where you can enjoy a beer and some tasty tapas at a very good price. Enjoy the Madrid life!

9 ago. 2016

Why we love August in Madrid

August in Madrid has many reputations but one of the most prevalent is the idea that it becomes a ‘ghost town’ when all the residents head out on vacation. But while this may make the month a less exciting at first glance, the reality is that the capital is better than ever!! With some fantastic festivals taking place in various neighborhoods, the most notable being the Fiestas de la Virgen de Paloma, and Retiro park sparkling in all its green glory, Madrid feels like a best kept secret that only a select few have discovered!

So if you’re in the Spanish capital this month, welcome! In honor of those who appreciate this month as much as AIL Madrid does, we’ve put together of a few of this month’s best activities for both those who love a crowd and those who seek a little peace and quiet. Enjoy!

Fiestas de la Virgen de Paloma, August 11th-19th

Madrid’s August population creates the perfect ‘village’ atmosphere in the beautiful La Latina neighborhood without leaving the city center! This traditional festival started roughly 300 years ago by local residents of the La Latina neighborhood who rallied around a wooden figure of the Virgen de Paloma, located in the window of a neighbor’s home, because they believed it had the power to heal untreatable illnesses. Since that time, a church has been built around the figure, processions are held in its honor, and the virgin has become the unofficial patron saint of the city.

Local residents dress in the city’s traditional outfits, known as ‘chulapos’, and dance the ‘chotis’ to celebrate their beloved saint with free lemonade for all. But while parts of the celebration may be old school, this year especially, it also features some modern fun! This year’s list of activities include sushi making demonstrations, a zombie apolocalypse survival game around the entire neighborhood, a DJ, and open swing dancing!

For the full program, click here.

A slice Madrid just for you

Madrid is pretty incredible no matter the time of year, but there are a few places that feel extra special when you have them to yourself:

Retiro Park- try rollerblading, rowing on the lake without waiting in line, or enjoying a picnic under the ancient trees!

The Reina Sofia-  stroll through the breezy stone hallways as if this was your personal gallery, or bring a book and sit in among the olive trees by Calder’s mobile in the courtyard!

Bellas Artes rooftop- it may cost 4€ to arrive at the top, but this is the perfect way to escape hot summer evenings and watch the sunset with a cool drink in your hand!

El Pardo- take a day to explore these ancient royal hunting ground on the outskirts of Madrid or take a swim in the 4 pool complex at Samontes sports club! Normally quite busy, you’re more than likely to have this Olympic sized pools all to yourself!

29 jun. 2016

Your Guide to Madrid Pride

The largest annual event in Europe and second largest event of its kind in the world starts in Madrid today: Madrid Pride Week!

For the next five days Madrid, especially in the Chueca neighborhood, will be celebrating LGBTQ pride with unparalleled zest, with over 2 million participants and events ranging from a race in high heels down a cobblestone street to non-stop concerts and a parade spanning the entire city center.

Beyond the flabbergasting list of exciting events, this week is the crowning jewel for Spain in general, reminding attendees and people all over the world of the country’s role as the third nation in the world to legalize gay marriage and the first to recognize it as equal to heterosexual marriage. Madrid in particular has been a role model for other cities, as it embraced its transition, beginning in Chueca, into the tolerant, loving metropolis it is today.

So for those of you in Madrid this week who want to jump right in, check it out, or just learn more, here are some of the highlights of this week’s pride program:

1. Pregón del Orgullo LGTB
Wednesday 29th June. 8:30pm. Plaza de Pedro Zerolo.
Welcoming speech and memorial for the victims of the Orlando shooting

2. Carrera de Tacones
Thursday 30th June, 6pm. Calle de Pelayo.
Traditional high heel reace! ¡La tradicional carrera de tacones! Dare to try it? Great prices and, above all, tons of fun!

3. Escenario WorldPride Madrid
Starts Friday 1st July, 8:00pm. Puerta de Alcalá.
A gala featuring tons of famous artists from the Spanish music world, as well as other events!

4. IX Gala Mr Gay Pride España 2016 
Friday 1st July, 10pm. Puerta del Sol
The winner will become "the official representative for the fight for LGBT diversity and equality" and attends the Gala with the starring musical artists.

5. Marcha del Orgullo
Saturday 2nd July,  6:30pm. Reminder: starts in Atocha and travels along el Paseo del Prado y Recoletos before ending in Plaza de Colón
The theme of this year's parade is "Laws for Real Equality Now. 2016 Year Bisexual Visibility in Diversity ". Over 1,500,000 people expected to attend!

23 jun. 2016

Spain vs Italy: where to watch the Eurocup 2016 in Madrid!

The Eurocup just started a week ago and is the most highly anticipated event of the year for football/soccer fans all over the world! And, as we know all too well here at AIL, there is nothing better than watching the games while out in Madrid, surrounded by Spanish football fanatics: no matter what nation you’re rooting for, there is a bar full of fans cheering for the same team who are ready to take you in with open (if slightly tipsy) arms. 
With one of the most anticipated rivalries coming up, Spain vs. Italy on Monday the 27th at 18:00, we know you’re going to want to get out there and watch with the locals so  here are our tips for watching the Eurocup 2016 on big screens around Madrid!

31 may. 2016

Your Guide to Entering a University in Spain - the AIL Madrid Pathway Program

 Spanish universities are internationally recognized as being at the cutting edge of teaching offering academic excellence and being world leaders in a diverse range of disciplines. These factors make Spain a top destination for high achieving young international students looking to excel in their chosen field. Taking undergraduate or graduate studies at a Spanish university offers many advantages, not least of which are becoming fluent in a major world language, as well as the professional opportunities and endless doors that having a degree in Spain can open.

If you think you have the ambition and drive necessary to step up to the challenge, then the AIL Madrid Pathway program is for you.