Hello! In case you haven’t been able to read my bio, here’s a short summary: my name is Tom, I am 22 years old and currently I am attending Spanish classes at AIL Madrid. I have just arrived in Madrid from a little town in England called Cambridge – you may have heard of our University. The team at AIL Madrid has asked me to contribute to their blog so that I might share some tips, anecdotes and opinions on living as a Spanish student in Madrid and how I am finding things. Hopefully my articles can help you as much as Emma’s helped me!
My first impressions of Madrid:
I had thought about talking a bit more about my life, but I wouldn’t want to bore you. Hence, I thought that I might share something slightly more interesting with you instead: what has most impressed me about Madrid in the time since my recent arrival.
My flight landed at the local airport (Barajas) in the evening of the 27th November and I went to my flat on the Metro (Madrid has a very well connected public transport system, which is great if you are on a student budget). When I arrived at my destination, I was struck by something immediately: an impressive lighting installation down the whole street. I walked a few steps and was awed: there were decorations on the buildings and trees and bright objects dangling down above my head as if they were hovering in mid-air. It seemed endless!
As it turns out, that same night, throught the city, all the Christmas lights had been turned on simultaneously. This is an annual tradition in Madrid: parks, streets and plazas all with similarly impressive Christmas lights. Enthused, I went to investigate where else I could find such a display in the city. In the few days I have spent here, I can already tell you my favourite places that I recommend you visit.
The Christmas lights that I like the most so far:
- The Christmas Tree in Puerta del Sol is huge and incredibly bright! It is bound to instil the festive spirit in any and everyone that passes by.
- Behind the Corte Inglés in Puerta del Sol there is a hidden wall covered from head to toe in sparkling lights. At night it seems more like a wall of diamonds!
- The lights outside the Four Seasons Hotel; reminiscent of London’s Oxford Street at Christmas.
- The lights in the Puerta de Alcalá are one of Madrid’s most iconic and largest gateways. This gigantic arch has been filled with decorations of reindeer and even a nativity scene.
- The Christmas Tree at Ópera is like a little brother to the one in Puerta del Sol but still resplendent with neon reds. Plus, it’s nestled in an elegant and historic plaza in front of the Teatro Real.
Okay, yes, I admit it. These 5 places are all pretty close to each other in Centro. However, remember that I have only been here a few days and I haven’t yet had the chance to have a proper look around beyond my immediate vacinity from my flat in Sol. Yet, if these are all only a 10 minute walk from my flat (or less), then I can’t wait to explore the rest of Madrid neighbourhoods! Of course, this is only the beginning of my Spanish adventure.
A final thought:
What better metaphor is there for 2020 than an entire city shining together as one… And what a great way to feel welcomed in my new home.
By the way, in this link you can check all the official details of the great Christmas lighting.
So far, Madrid seems like a very positive place, with cheerful people always ready to help out a confused, and often lost foreigner. I hope that my life in Madrid as a Spanish student keeps on getting better.
What about you? Have you seen any of the Christmas decorations in your city yet? How do they compare with the ones in Madrid? Which are your favourites?