A Young Person’s Guide to Madrid

As Madrid is a city which attracts thousands of tourists throughout the whole year, a few useful tips will be really helpful – especially for those who are visiting the Spanish capital for the first time. There are hundreds of things to say about the Spanish culture which can be found in Madrid. However, the […]

As Madrid is a city which attracts thousands of tourists throughout the whole year, a few useful tips will be really helpful – especially for those who are visiting the Spanish capital for the first time. There are hundreds of things to say about the Spanish culture which can be found in Madrid.

However, the following are the most essential tips and distinctive features of Spanish people that might catch your attention. These are often very different from the habits of tourists, and therefore they will be useful to know in advance.

Whilst many cultures queue and wait to be acknowledged, forming a proper queue is quite unusual in Spain. In fact, Spanish people tend to mass together and therefore jump the queue. This happens in shops, bars, bus and train stops, and all public buildings where a lot of people tend to gather together with no particular order, and those who are in more of a hurry or simply louder get served first. Unlike people belonging to many other cultures who will stand in a queue, quietly and patiently, in Spain they will strike up a conversation. Therefore tourists, and in particular those who are more used to forming an orderly queue, should learn how to play the game and win during their stay in Madrid!

The importance of direct contact is another peculiarity of the Spanish culture, where social interaction is fundamental. This includes the local habit of introducing yourself and saying goodbye by kissing on the cheek and very often touching whilst talking as a sign of approval and establishing friendly contact (i.e. touching you on the shoulder). The atmosphere when you go shopping is of a continuous social network, where people have time for each other and speed does not really matter. So even if Madrid is an extended  capital city, here you do not get the impression that people are stressed or in a hurry. Here you can always find some very traditional corner where the common and widely-known Spanish spirit of being friendly and laid back is preserved.

As in many other tourist cities, pickpockets are always waiting in ambush. This happens especially in the most crowded and tourist areas of the city such as squares and main streets, as well as on public transport and shopping areas.

Asking Spanish people for directions may be tricky and confusing for tourists, as Spanish people seem to have a different and particular conception of distance! It is very likely that when you ask local people for directions, you will be told “Est. justo al lado” (“It is just round the corner”), and after a while you may realise the place is actually far away! Or it could be the other way round: you might be told a place is too far to walk, when the place was quite close and definitely walkable!…learn more, view sampledownload book
Your City Travel Review Team 2011

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