The grocery guide – All about food shopping in Madrid

grocery shopping madrid

For me, a stocked kitchen is one of the easiest ways to make my house feel like a home. And even though Madrid’s grocery stores aren’t likely to give you culture shock, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to your weekly grocery trip.

Right off the bat, know that it’s likely you’ll do it more often. The city center and apartments aren’t set up for monthly monster shopping trips. Most people walk to their local market so immediately, you’re limited to what you can carry. Also, apartments just don’t have the storage or giant refrigerators needed to buy lots at once. I have a nice big kitchen by European standards but my refrigerator looks like it belongs in a college dorm room.

So the first piece of advice: get yourself a little rolling cart to make your frequent trips easier. Then, keep reading for everything else you need to know about grocery shopping in Madrid.

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Eight ways Madrid will change you for life

Just a run-of-the-mill gorgeous afternoon in Retiro Park

Last week I was mentioning how it’s inevitable that your new culture will influence your lifestyle and here in Spain, mealtimes are first on the list. But it doesn’t end there. Though it’s hard to wrap your mind around a 9:00 dinner time, the other ways Madrid (and Spain) will shape you are pleasant surprises.

I pride myself on being happy wherever I settle but I’m getting the feeling that Madrid is spoiling me. Keep reading for a few ways I think Madrid has ruined me for life.

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How to eat like a local – The when and what of Spanish mealtimes

spanish mealtimes

One of the neatest parts of life abroad is seeing all the different ways people do life. Also cool is how while you’re bouncing from one place to the next, you’ll inevitably pick up a few of these habits. I quickly adopted a few in Bogotá and I see it happening again here in Madrid.

Except, Madrid will take over your entire life. I tried to resist and still get up at 5:30 am to workout and take care of my errands bright and early. No chance. Shops remain shuttered until late morning because—another newsflash—no one goes to bed before midnight. Madrid lives according to its own schedule and in order to save yourself some headaches, it’s best to follow the locals.

The quickest way to get the hang of life in Madrid is to zero in on their meal schedule. Once you adapt to this the rest of your life will seamlessly follow. Because while it’s true that the people are laid back, there is no getting around the specific routine of Spanish mealtimes.

Sure, if you really want dinner at 7:00 pm you can eat rubbery chicken wings at the Hard Rock Cafe with the fanny-pack wearing tourists. But if not (and let’s hope not), keep reading for what and when to eat when you’re in Madrid.

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More than just Christmas – Everything you need to know about the holidays in Madrid

Photo borrowed from Citylife Madrid

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched double-decker buses line up along Plaza de Colón. The city has been fully decked in lights since the first of the month and come to find out, these navibuses (as in Navidad or Christmas buses) take folks around Madrid to see the city’s best and brightest.

One great thing about traveling around the holidays is discovering new traditions. For instance, I loved lighting candles on Día de las Velitas and the special nighttime ciclovía each December in Bogotá. New traditions are even more important for those living abroad because incorporating something new into your holiday season can help take the sting out of being away from loved ones.

If you’re traveling to or living in Madrid count yourself lucky—here, the holiday season is more than just Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Keep reading for a rundown of special days in Spain’s capital city.

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FYIs for your Spanish pharmacy visit

spanish pharmacy

Stand on any street corner in Madrid and I guarantee you’ll see at least two flashing green crosses. To all my fellow Americans: these aren’t marijuana dispensaries. They’re pharmacies. In Madrid, you’re hard-pressed to find a street corner without one. They’re kinda like a Spanish equivalent of Starbucks.

When I first arrived in Spain it took me awhile to get up to speed with the way the Spanish do over-the-counter drugs. I spent several confused afternoons circling the grocery store looking for Tylenol and cold medicine. I soon found out that in Spain, anything stronger than toothpaste is available only in a pharmacy.

Since we’re in the middle of cold and flu season, here are a few things Americans should know before visiting their local Spanish pharmacy.

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Seven reasons the Spanish stay slim (even while eating all that ham)

My first few glances at Madrid’s restaurant menus gave me major anxiety. Yes, part of it was that I had a whole new list of food words to learn. But after that, I started worrying how I was going to live here for the next few years and not have to buy new jeans every six months.

Because Spanish food is the delicious cliche you think it is: all varieties of ham, creamy cheese, peppery wine, and olives stuffed with everything you can imagine. There’s really no way to avoid these foods and besides, I didn’t want to! Unfortunately, unless I was going to develop insane self-control (not likely), I was going to have to develop some new eating habits.

Thank goodness the Spaniards are already pros at this and all I had to do was follow their example. Keep reading for seven habits I copied from the locals so I could have my ham and eat it too.

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Where to do happy hour from Naked Madrid

Naked Madrid

It’s no secret that I love a good cocktail. When we landed in Madrid, I made it a personal mission to find a spot that made a manhattan just the way I liked it. Not knowing any locals to point me in the right direction, Naked Madrid helped me get my bearings and discover some of Madrid’s best cocktail bars.

Now that I’m settled, I’ve been venturing out on my own. Recently I discovered another place to add to the happy hour list and was able to share my thoughts in a guest post!

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Five things to know about August in Madrid

august in madrid
August in Madrid…when you’ll always find a seat on the metro

Lots of people sigh wistful sighs at the thought of summertime in Europe. I’m not sure that any of those people have spent August in Madrid. With 100+ degree days and generous vacation practices, instead of filling up like many northern and coastal areas of Europe, Madrid is practically abandoned.

That’s not to say it isn’t an incredible city and worth a visit in the warmer months. Just make sure you know what to expect. So whether you’re passing through or spending the summer, here are a few things to know about August in Madrid.

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Europe’s top expat city? Madrid!

best cities expats

When you’re on vacation, not worrying about work and then having a bottle of wine for lunch, it’s easy to imagine how life in that particular place would be incredible. However, visiting a place and actually living there are two different things. Dinner at 9:30 pm is no big deal when you can sleep in, but not so much when you’re heading to the office at 8:00 the next morning.

All things considered, Madrid really is one of those cities that has it all. And it turns out, I’m not the only one to think so.

Each year the online expat community, Internations, surveys more than 14,000 people who are living and working outside their home countries. In the most recent study, Madrid was ranked the best European city for expat life.*

If you’ve been following NoLongerNative for a bit then you know I wasn’t exactly hounding Spain for a visa to live in their capital city. However, it slowly won me over and I couldn’t agree more with Madrid’s spot on the list.

Take a minute to check out the full survey results, then keep reading for a few things I’ve come to love about my new home.

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