Category Archives: Recreation

Holidays in Spain

Here I will highlight a few of the biggest cultural celebrations within Spain. If you can plan your travel around these times, they can be truly incredible and life changing experiences!!

First is La Semana Santa, or Holy Week. It is widely celebrated as Spain is a largely catholic country, during the week leading up to easter. There are various events that take place during holy week, but daily, parades can be seen on the streets of every major city in the country.

One cultural distinction that is important to note between the US and Spain is the hoods that have been traditionally worn during holy week since well before the US was discovered. They wear multicolored, pointy hoods, out of reverence for different saints. Unfortunately, the KKK in the US has a similar outfit, though the two could not be less related. Do not be surprised to see these hoods in parades if travelling during holy week!

Though Christmas is celebrated in Spain, traditionally, children receive their presents on El Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings day. This shortly follows christmas on January the 6th. It represents when the wise men travelled to discover Jesus as a baby in the manger, and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

La Tomatina is a giant food fight. Literally. Starting in the late 1940’s, the town of Buñol, an hour drive from Madrid, has played host to one of the worlds largest food fights. It has grown so large that fire engines have to pressure wash the town square to clean up all the mess afterwards! It happens the last wednesday of every August, so travel around this time if tomato fights sound like an activity for you!

This is just a glimpse of some of the crazy and super cool holidays that take place in Spain throughout the year. These are once in a lifetime experiences that you will not want to pass up on if you have the chance to observe, or even participate!

Sadler, S. (2018). Top 7 cultural celebrations in Spain. Retrieved April 10, 2021, from

Tapas!!! (And Other Foods)

One of the things you are sure to encounter abroad is Tapas. They are a placeholder for small snacks on bread, served hot or cold, in most bars around Spain. Because dinner is served so late in Spain, it is not uncommon for people to bar hop between being done with work and dinner, or even to have these tapas for dinner. There are even entire districts dedicated to each type of bar serving a unique tapas!

As you can see, there are a wide variety of toppings for tapas. When going out with friends, you can make night of bar hopping and trying different tapas, as they are a very good conversational food. The unique culture around tapas that has developed in Spain is something anyone travelling abroad should certainly experience.

Beyond tapas, Spain is home to a rich and diverse culinary variety. Being on a peninsula, seafood is a big part of their culture. This culminates in paella, a dish that varies by location but usually consists of rice, shrimp, and veggies. Usually it is made in huge batches and the whole community eats together! A great place in Madrid is La Paella de la Reina, with more of a mediterranean influence.

Madrid has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from! Some more can be found at this list below:

Tapas. (2021, February 27). Retrieved April 07, 2021, from David Rosengarten June 27, 2. (2021, March 29). What is Paella? Exploring a Spanish art. Retrieved April 07, 2021, from

Landmarks in Madrid

Madrid is a historic city with a vast amount of historic landmarks to consider visiting when in the city. Here I will highlight just a few for your consideration.

First up is the Royal Palace in Madrid. Believe it or not, the royal family actually does not live in the Royal Palace, instead preferring a more modest homestead on the outskirts of the city (Modest being a relative term). The royal palace is now reserved for public visitation, which costs thirteen euros to enter. It is filled with incredible world class artwork. Do consider stopping by!

If the selection of art within the palace isn’t enough to satisfy you, look no further than the Museo Nacional de Prado. Filled with world class artwork second only to the Louvre, you will find varying collections to appease even the most casual museum-goer. One of their summer exhibitions focuses on artists depictions of love affairs between mythical beings.

Besides royal palaces and national museums, Madrid also boasts a wealth of noteworthy architecture. One such example is the Plaza de Cibeles. This location actually ties into the time of Madrid’s occupation by the Romans, as there is a fountain depicting Cibele, the mother of the gods and Roman goddess of fertility. Beyond this historical tie, the architecture in the area is absolutely breathtaking! Perfect for an afternoon of relaxation.

Last but certainly not least is the Plaza Mayor de Madrid. One of the premiere destinations for anyone looking to get a look at the Madrileño lifestyle, pre-COVID the Plaza Mayor would be bustling with people going to meetings, shopping, or buying food at one of various artisan food-stands. It is an absolute must visit for anyone looking to integrate with local life. See a picture below during prime hours.

Mythological Passions Tiziano, VERONESE, allori, RUBENS, Ribera, poussin, Van DYCK, VELÁZQUEZ. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from THE 10 best sights & historical landmarks in Madrid. (2021). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from Plaza mayor. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from

Other Sports

Though soccer may command the attention of the masses, there are other notable sports that are played.

Among these is basketball. Real Madrid Baloncesto is one of the most prestigious basketball teams across Europe, and as you can probably guess, they are the basketball subdivision of the Real Madrid soccer team.

The Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France is the Vuelta de España. It is a three week long competition, where cyclists begin in Granada and finish in Madrid. The prize for winning is the coveted Jersey de Oro, counterpart to the yellow jersey for the Tour de France. Primož Roglič came out on top in the 2020 edition of the race. He is pictured below in the middle.

The Madrid Masters is a singles and doubles Tennis tournament that takes place annually, and serves as a way for high level players to compete for silverware. It had to be suspended in 2020, but will be back starting Friday, April 30th through May 9th in 2021! Definitely something to look forward to if you are travelling during this time period.

Last but not least is the classically Spanish activity- Bullfighting. Although the activity itself has died down a bit since the 20th century when it was all the rage, Madrid is still home to several classic bullfighting arenas that are fantastic places to tour. One such example is the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, shown below.

Clearly Madrid has a wide variety of opportunities for all types of sports enthusiasts. Do consider attending a socially-distanced and masked-up sporting event when you travel!

Sports teams and sporting events in Madrid – Madrid. (2021). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from,motor%20sports%2C%20running%20and%20bullfighting.

Futból (Soccer)

Futból is absolutely HUGE in Madrid, as with much of the rest of Europe. There are two major teams in Madrid, Atlético and Real Madrid. The teams have a huge rivalry which divides the country, city, and families on gameday. The rivalry was born when Real Madrid was beat to the Spanish championship by Athletic Bilbao in 1903 (, 2021). Miners from Madrid decided their city needed a team like Bilbao had, and the rest is history!

The teams are seen to have juxtaposing ideals, with Real Madrid seen as imperialistic and demanding, while Atlético fans are seen as loyal until the end. Both teams are regularly successful domestically, as well as in European competitions.

Although less recognizable, Madrid is also home to Rayo Vallecano. As of this post, Vallecano is in 6th position in the Segunda Division in Spain, with hopes of returning to the Spanish top flight someday soon.

Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid. (2021). Retrieved April 02, 2021, from,the%20team%20of%20the%20humble.&text=According%20to%20many%20fans%2C%20the,Championship%20of%20Spain%20against%20Madrid.


Madrid is full of fascinating music! You’ll notice several things about the artists that come from this region and the way they pronounce specific phonemes. For instance, when pronouncing c or z, it oftentimes can sound like a th. Additionally, when pronounicng h, j, or x, it can sound rather gutteral. These are just a couple of hallmarks of a Madrileño accent! Attached is a playlist of Madrid’s top songs, updated monthly!