Spending the summer in Madrid?
It should be fun.
Read on to find out more…
Yes, folks, summer is on its way.
The eternal debate, however, still rages for some: Which is better? Summer or winter?
While both seasons have their advantages and disadvantages, I tend to prefer summer.
On the one hand, a lot of people go out of town, and Madrid can get a bit quiet – a bit like a ghost town, actually. But summer in Madrid has its advantages too.
And those will be the topic of this article.
6 things I enjoy about summer in Madrid
By the way, if you’re looking for 9 sure-fire ways to beat the heat, I’ve got an article about that too.
But while I’ve got you here, check out these 6 things I’m excited about this summer, in no particular order:
1. Gazpacho, sherry and seasonal vegetables.
As much as I love red wine and cocido, I’m also happy when summer rolls around and it’s time for delicious cold seasonal foods. Drinking sherry in various specialty bars is also a plus.
Also, the super-abundance of local veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants is great for making sauces and pastas.
Seasonal vegetables for the win!
Also on the list…
2. Being able to synthesize Vitamin D naturally.
Vitamin D makes everything seem awesome.
Just trust me. (Or read up on it – every cell in your body uses Vitamin D, as it turn out.)
If you’re lacking in joie de vivre in winter, it’s probably because you lack Vitamin D. In summer you can get a pretty good vitamin buzz on in 15 minutes or so – although maybe it depends on your skin color. (Full disclosure: I’m ginger.)
Gotta show some skin, though.
Here’s the method that real Madrid locals swear by: go to Retiro and start taking off clothes until people give you funny looks. Then take off one more garment.
It’ll be fun, I promise.
3. Daylight past 10 PM.
“God” bless European latitudes.
Around here, it stays light until 10 or 10:30 most of the summer, and you can do all kinds of fun outdoor things in broad daylight.
Of course, Spain is in the same time zone as Germany, which means the sun comes up much later than in the rest of Europe. But that’s Hitler’s fault.
I like the long summer days, except that it makes sleep a bit difficult.
(Daylight 18 hours a day means less time for sleep, unless you’re good at lowering the persianas and shutting yourself in. Got a good A/C? Lucky you! You’re in a minority.)
Moving on, here’s another thing I love about summer in Madrid…
4. Finding out who’s pro-bullfighting and who’s anti-bullfighting.
In late Spring, bullfighting season starts, and suddenly all the closet animal-rights activists get all worked up about bullfighting.
The ironic part is that virtually none of them are vegetarians. They just somehow have the idea that being electrocuted in a slaughterhouse is much more dignified for bulls.
I like to know who these people are, so I can take the rest of their opinions less seriously.
(If you’re a vegetarian, well, I respect that too… kinda. I was a vegetarian for several years, too. Long story.)
5. Wacky summer fashion.
When Spanish people are mostly covered up, they look respectable – for the most part.
But give them a chance to walk around town half-dressed in the heat and they’ll bring out clothes that are shocking and horrible even to my provincial sensibilities.
It’s like a circus, and you can sit all day and just watch the freaks go by.
To be fair – and let no-one accuse Mr Chorizo of being unfair – they probably think I’m just as ridiculous by dressing the same way in summer as I do in winter. Long-sleeve shirt and jeans. Sometimes a polo.
The only difference between seasons for me is I that in summer, I leave my layers at home.
But there’s certainly no shorts-and-sandals on my calendar.
6. Laughing at everyone who starts whining about the heat.
You’ve never felt real heat till you’ve spent, oh, let’s say 20 summers in Phoenix, Arizona. Go do that and then let’s talk about how hot it is in Madrid.
On the other hand…
Not all is fun in the sun.
And there are some things I don’t enjoy about summer in Madrid.
Here are the things I’m not really looking forward to about summer:
1. Watching my income decrease by 80%.
Yep, it’s tough.
Or it was. Now I’m independent.
But it used to be a huge financial crisis: every summer, all my students decide they’d rather be synthesizing Vitamin D than coming to English class.
It’s pretty much self-explanatory why this sucks. “Real teachers”, of course, have paid holidays. But if you’re in a language school on a temporary contract, and barely scraping by in the best months, you can look forward to a summer spent with virtually no income.
(The usual thing for expats to do is work at a summer camp in some tiny town somewhere in Extremadura. Never done it. Try it out and leave me a comment, though… I’d be happy to hear about your experience.)
2. Sweating like a pig at night.
Sleep and all other bed-related activities become sticky, sweaty and somewhat disgusting events in summer – whether you’re alone or in company.
Get ready to sweat like a pig – or beg your landlord to install a more modern aircon unit (good luck).
And no offense to swine: I’m pretty sure pigs actually refer to this as “Sweating like an overweight German-American in an environment he’s not genetically designed for.”
One final disadvantage to spending your summer months in Madrid…
3. Listening to Europeans complain about how “air conditioning makes them sick.”
This is apparently an old-wives’ tale that many Europeans take really seriously.
Europeans consider air conditioning to be more dangerous than mosquitoes in a malaria zone. They’ll be like, “Oh my God! Cold Air! Get it away from me! Where’s my scarf?”
They’ll do it all summer long…
Then they’ll wear their scarf all winter, too. Because winter.
More about that in my instant classic article about Dating a Spanish Girl.
Summer in Madrid – the shocking conclusion
Okay, I lied. No shocking conclusion here.
Summer comes and summer goes.
People complain about winter cold, and two days later they’re sweaty and sticky and whining about how it’s too hot.
C’est la vie – or así es la vida – in Madrid or wherever else you go, I guess.
So what’s better? In the end, summer wins my vote.
But it got close there at the end.
P.S. Coming soon: Which is better? Madrid or Barcelona? That’ll really piss people off. (By the way, the answer is Madrid.)
P.P.S. I have a lot more to say about what I love (and what I don’t love) about Spain. For example: Gastro-this and hipster-that: lost in the new Madrid and 32 Things I Love about Spain.