People are nicer in Madrid!
Right off the bat, that’s what I noticed. Baristas, ticket sellers, security patrols, waiters. Friends of friends. People on the streets. I haven’t encounter anybody rude. And if they are rude and are Spanish, they are from Barcelona (lol well that’s not entirely true…)
People are so hospitable and kind, I felt like I was on vacation with friends. By “nice” I mean, for example, they are not snobby/pretentious, they do not judge me, they are curious about my background but not in-my-face about it. They’re like friends I would keep!
In Toronto, I would avoid some bars or coffee shops knowing that the staff and customers are snobs. They’re always in a hurry. They look me up and down if I am in jeans. They look me up and down as if I’m 18. See they thing is, they look me up and down with the worst eyes ever. What do I look like, a threat??? or a fob? Now I don’t mean the bouncers, I mean the actual staff or even the pretentious customers at the bar. Like I’m not good enough to talk to them. Ew. I find most places to be like this on Adelaide St and in the financial district. Hence the reason I live on the west end (King and Bathurst).
In Madrid, I don’t believe it’s because I am foreign. They treat everyone well. They are kind to everyone. Also because Spanish people can be loud! You disrespect a Spanish customer, you will not hear the end of it. However I find the people in general are kind. I felt like nobody needs to be “special” to impress, everyone can be themselves. They can be weird. They can be quiet. They can be cool, they can be ugly. It doesn’t matter! Just don’t be creepy, obviously.
Madrid transit is AMAZING
Well I don’t know… I didn’t expect to see a complex underground system because I figured I had to endure it no matter how bad. But it wasn’t bad! In fact it was heaven!! You can go anywhere easily, why bother to walk? I still walked, of course. But if transit doesn’t hinder my travel plans, as they never should, then I am incredibly happy. Every day I am surprised why Toronto’s transit hinders mine.
Madrid has more locally grown foods
It makes sense as Toronto (and Canada) is not a farmer’s heaven. We are just geographically unlucky! So personally I am envious of Madrid’s many, many fresh fruit and meat markets. Every neighbourhood has its own market. And if you’re not happy with the closest one, you are 20 minutes walk from another.
Saffron is popular in Madrid, which is nice. Olive oil is plenty.
AND FISH. So much variety!! And fresh. Bloody fresh. The type of fish markets in Hong Kong but indoors (usually).
Cheap to go out in Madrid
Beers are cheap but there are less choices (usually Mahou). Lots of fresh sangrias! Lunch and dinner come in combos, with drinks included. Spanish likes to live inexpensive. They know where the tourist traps are. In Spain, it’s not “You get what you pay for.” It’s “why is this restaurant so expensive??” That’s why they complain when bars don’t serve free tapas with their beers. Also there isn’t a lot of variety in the food. Spanish restaurants make roughly the same dishes, sort of like Chinese cuisine. So it’s a matter of price when competing. Of course there are expensive and amazing Spanish restaurants too. Still, you can do a lot with 5€. Beer + tapas! Coffee + sandwich. Tapas + tapas. If you’re sharing with friends, 5€ per person can buy a lot. Especially with so many sharing-style tapas to choose from!
5€ is $7CAD. I can buy one cheap takeout dinner. A cheap beer is $5 at the dirty bars.
Toronto we pay for everything. The food and the drinks. No free stuff. But we also have a lot of different cuisine. Toronto usually it’s “you get what you pay for.” The rare cheap restaurant that makes delicious food is always busy.
And we tip!! Spain, tips are optional.
Good lattes are everywhere in Madrid, I paid $3CAD maximum. In Toronto a good latte is $5, so instead I make mine at home.
Tickets for shows and theatres in Madrid are cheap!!!! Teatro Circo Price the circus theatre I paid 12€ for “cheapest available” ticket. The Spanish National Dance show was I believe 17€ for people under 30, depending on the show. I paid 2€ at the Cine Doré the vintage films theatre. Toronto shows are expensive!!!! The cheapest I paid was a Cirque du Soleil Groupon for $52 per ticket. After that I buy most of my tickets at full price via American Express Front of the Line, average $100 per ticket. I also paid for my boyfriend, so $200 per show… Even Bloor Cinema charges $12+ per ticket.
Madrid is small with plenty to do
because Madrid has a loooooooooooooot of streets. Toronto has a few major streets, and everything are on these parallel streets. Madrid has streets going in all directions, many are super short. Even Madrid locals of decades do not know all the streets. They know the neighbourhoods, but never the exact street or address. When I tell them a specific street, they look at me like I’m speaking alien. They speak in “approximation.” As I mentioned here, people tend to walk in circles until they find it. Which means two things:
- They are never in a hurry, unlike Toronto.
- They don’t mind being lost, unlike Toronto.
But, okay, Toronto is different. You can’t be lost in Toronto because there are only a handful of streets. If I give you an intersection such as University and King, south side of King. Right away that makes sense! Pai Northern is on Adelaide and Duncan, and all my friends knew where to go. If you’re lost in Toronto, usually it means you aren’t familiar with the streets. Like mixing up the order of Adelaide and Richmond, sometimes even Dundas and College. Or that you aren’t street-smart.
In Madrid, you cannot memorize all the streets so it’s absolutely okay to be lost. Which is why everyone is so relaxed about it. They take their time but eventually they figure it out. For example, Toni 2 is near intersection Calle del Almirante and Calle Conde de Xiquena. “Huh????” Chueca. “Ah!”
Espresso machines everywhere in Madrid
Including bars. OMG. You can buy a good cup of café con leche anywhere!!! And cheap! It’s hilarious that Starbucks opened up in Madrid. Why??? Go away!
Spanish like to make fun of themselves
It’s actually cute. Here’s the full list I received:
- We’re always complaining.
- We don’t talk politics or anything serious. It’s too depressing.
- So we’re never serious about anything.
- We don’t speak English very well, as you can tell.*
- We’re so loud, right?
- We’re always yelling.**
- So embarrassing.***
*Honestly it’s better than my French! Canada is bilingual only in Quebec… I am in Ontario. I found most of the younger generation in Madrid can speak English fairly well. Is English perhaps an easy language to learn?
**Dim sum restaurants are louder than they are!
***I find they love to talk. And maybe yell. But when a topic is intriguing, they want to talk endlessly. And a lot of topics are intriguing to them. So they just talk a lot. Which is great!!! Because they don’t take offence when someone disagrees with them. Ahhhhh. such is a great culture.
Madrid economy is rough
Unfortunately. With unemployment rate so high, the locals are just happy to have any job. If they are not working, the government pays for education.
Tough :( but they’re not depressed about it when they chat with me, which is nice. They’re friendly, still laughing, and enjoy a good time no matter what.
But cities are different. I enjoy Toronto too for its multiculturalism. At any time I feel like Korean food, I know a good restaurant. I know a few amazing Thai restaurants. I also know where to find delicious Shanghai food, juicy burgers, loaded poutine, and even vegan. Funny enough, I never had Spanish food until I was in Madrid. I’m not sure why… I myself don’t know any Spanish restaurants in Toronto!
Toronto is a city where it’s uncommon to ask about another person’s background. Unless you’re dating them… usually we treat each other the same no matter where you’re from. We go to school together, work together, go to the bar together. We grow up together, we live together, we eat at the same restaurants. Knowing the other person’s background does not solve any problem. I haven’t been asked, “Where are you from?” in a looooong time.
If I live in Spain, I’ll probably miss materialistic things like the dryer and elevators. And skiing.