Madrid has lots of tourist attractions that are well worth visiting, such as the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace, and the Prado museum, to name a few. These places are all edifying, interesting, and educational crossroads of Spanish history and culture. But this article is not about those places. This article is about how to spend an afternoon a little off the beaten track, a little more … well, native.
Vermouth in Lavapiés
When I first came to Madrid and was still puzzling over the Spanish language, I was confused to encounter the sign vermut de grifo in many bars. Doesn’t de grifo mean “on tap”? Vermouth… on tap? I now know it means exactly that. This may sound strange but stay with me here. It turns out that vermouth on its own is delicious! And refreshing! And the perfect place to sit in the sun and sip a vermouth is on the patios of Lavapiés, Madrid’s most multicultural neighborhood.
Lavapiés is easy to get to. It’s about 15 minutes south of the Puerta de Sol by foot or just one metro stop. Once you reach the entrance of the Lavapiés metro station, head east along Calle Argumosa and stop any place that catches your fancy. Make sure you check before you sit down: “¿Aquí hay vermut?” (“Do you have vermouth here?”)
Cañas in La Latina
As you may already know, a caña is a small glass of light beer. At first the size can be off-putting for those of us who are used to something more substantial, but the beauty of a caña is that it allows you to enjoy your beer Spanish-style: one here, one there, working your way around a neighborhood like a leisurely, more family-friendly (possibly) bar crawl. And this is exactly how many madrileños spend their weekend afternoons in the cozy La Latina district.
La Latina is a 10-minute walk from Sol, or you can get there on the metro. From the metro station, go west on Carrera de San Francisco and keep your eyes peeled for intriguing side streets. Go ahead, explore; getting lost in La Latina is half the fun. Just make sure you remember the most important thing: “Dos cañas, por favor.” (“Two cañas, please.”)
Visit a Pool and a Lake — at the Same Time
Hopping off the metro at the Lago station is like a choose-your-own-adventure: do you want to go left to the lake or right to the pool? Both are appealing options, though since you can’t submerge yourself in the lake, the weather might help you decide if you prefer a pleasant stroll or a refreshing dunk.
To circle the whole lake doesn’t take very long, and it makes a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Madrid’s old center. Afterwards, take a seat on one of the many terraces and enjoy the view while you drink café con leche or tinto de verano.
In the hottest days of Madrid’s summer, the entire population of the city can be found stretched out poolside, and this is one of my favorite pools. Shady, expansive, and well-maintained, entrance only costs about five euros — and those are five well-spent euros on a scorching day!
Catch a V.O. Film
Sometimes coping with Spanish can be tough, and all you want is a good old English-speaking movie. (Okay, perhaps it´s not such a local thing to do, but sometimes it’s just necessary.) Well, fear not, because Madrid is full of theaters that show movies in their versión original.
One place to start is Yelmo Cines , which generally plays the newest releases. Of this group’s many theaters, the closest to the center is probably Cine Ideal, near the Tirso de Molina metro stop.
Another option is Cines Renoir . On the very bottom of their page is the heading “Cines” with four different theaters listed underneath, located in various parts of Madrid.
Both of the above-listed websites sell tickets online as well as at the door. Got your tickets, your soda, and your large popcorn? Now all you need to to learn how to ignore the subtitles.