Today an interview with Elia García García, Spotter for our Madrid cityblog! We met her in a football stadium in Madrid in 2008!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, first of all, I live in Madrid since 2000. I’m a journalist and storyteller for children and adults, mainly on weekends.
I take theatre and clown lessons and I love all the things that have to do with scenic arts. Also I’m very keen of all kind of sports. I do trekking in the mountain but, as I don’t have a lot of time, the most easy sport to practice for me is jogging. So that is what I do.
I also love my little village Cobos de Segovia, in Segovia (very nice place one hour far from Madrid) because it’s quite and relaxing, just the opposite to Madrid: exciting and sometimes even stressing. Madrid is a very hospitable city where no one can feel out of place.
I love Madrid because I think is a very live city where you always have lots of things to do, to watch, to sense… There’re people from every part of the world, especially in some neighborhoods and it’s a common saying about it’s difficult to find Madrilenians in Madrid, because most of the people have come from any other part of Spain. Many of us are not from here, but we’re very pleased to have been “adopted”.
My advice for who is thinking to come to Madrid, I think is going to be the same as when I would live in any other city of the world: the typical city guides are ok, but do not limit yourself and try to go further of the topics. In Madrid, there is more than Puerta del Sol. The best thing you can do is search fresh information in internet and, especially, ask to the locals, once you’re here. A receptionist, waiter or shopkeeper could give you a a lot of good information. Generally, Madrid people are extrovert and nice, although it could be a little problem with the communication if you don’t speak Spanish because, especially the older people, are not very good at languages.
I recommend, if you come, not to miss (in a good restaurant) the potato omelette and jamón serrano.
It’s not an unsafe city, but take care of your bag in the centre and more crowded and touristy places.
Lastly, I have to say that one of the things I don’t like about Madrid is that it is not bicycle friendly like some other European city. For me, the best way of moving here is the underground.
Which prejudices about Madrid are true?
Foreign people could think that in Madrid (and in all Spain) people are very keen on going out and parties and I can say it’s true. Not only on weekends you find opened places late at night and people in there, but also, the rest of the days. There are many bars only for an early drink and there is an extensive cultural offer. Sometimes the most difficult thing is to choose.
Which ones are not?
Madrid does not have a lot to do with the image that some foreigners have about Spain (fortunately, each time is less common): bullfighting, flamenco and paella. Only some people like bullfighting. Not all the Spanish are fond of that. Also, Flamenco is from Andalucia (South of Spain) and paella is a typical Valencian dish (in the East of the country), but not Madrilenian.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Madrid at this moment?
It depends what you’re looking for. But if you like lively ambient, the city center is the best area. In my opinion, in Sol and the sourroundings, there are too many tourists, so I’d recommend you other centrical neighborhoods that maybe let you mix better with the local people and have a deeper knowing of the city.
I particularly like Malasaña, because I think it’s a bohemian neighborhood where you’ve a lot of places to enjoy (bars with good music, concert locals, modern shops…). Lavapiés is the most multicultural and authentic place. Indians, Arabs or Africans have brought their culture and way of living enriching it. Chueca is very trendy and knowing as the gay neighborhood and Latina is a traditional neighborhood but it’s been quite modernized. It has good taverns. For me, Castellana surroundings and Salamanca area are not so atractives, but this is only an opinion.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
Although its not in the web, in my perfect day, I would go early in the morning to the mountain, to La Pedriza, that’s only half an hour from Madrid (near the village of Manzanares el Real, among others) and I love it.
If not, I’d go to the Retiro Park that, specially on weekends is very lively. I’d eat in Sayat Nova, for example, where there’s a day menu quite cheap and good.
Probably I’d go to receive theatre lesson to Asura or to watch any spectacle in Alfil (they’ve an extensive offer of gestual theatre plays, so it’s not need knowing Spanish. It’s an universal humour) or to Las Naves del Matadero, where as well have interestings exhibitions and an not less interesting bar.
At night, if I am not in a hurry, I’d have dinner in La Gabinoteca or, if I am, in La Rue. And I’d go to Café Manuela for a first drink, although is perfect to spend the afternoon playing Trivial or any other game too (they have all!).
Lastly, at night, it’d be nice going to Costello Club for a drink and sometimes you find there concerts and other activities.
Check out all Elia García García’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters.