I still wonder what alimentación means till this day...hmm. Google translate gave 'feeding' as result. ^O^ Okay..I get the gist. The word has something to do with food. Hehehe..

Today..I'm gonna write about Hans Alimentacion. A Korean mini-market in the middle of Madrid.

Why do I write about Korean food when I'm here in Madrid?!! I don't know the reason for sure myself but a big part of me still misses Korea and Korean food. Arghh...정말 정말 그립다 한식을..

The reason why is because I want to eat 'Tteokbokki'. I once said to my friend that I will not miss any Korean food in future except this special one. Tteokbokki!!

Well..that craving brought my feet to Hans Alimentacion.

When I stepped into the shop, I said my greeting..Annyeonghaseyo and there were two ahjussis (older men) inside who were surprised at my speech.

My husband urged me to speak Korean with them and I did. The feeling...as if I have met my countrymen, as close as that hahaha. I was so giddy with excitement...반갑다

It is a small mini-market but sufficient to say that I could buy most of the ingredients to make Tteokbokki. The shop also sell Kimchi and the owner offered for 3.50 euros but I am not Korean so I definitely can survive without Kimchi here in Madrid...hehe.

Look at what I bought!


You can substitute 물엿 (corn syrup)
with sugar or honey but I always prefer 물엿.

It was pricey but what the heck! I don't care..I don't buy these everyday.

This is the result. Tadaaaa!!


I followed the recipe from Maangchi.

How to go to Hans Alimentación?

See that ahjussi? Hehe..
Walk out from exit Calle de los Reyes of Plaza de España metro station, Line 3 or 10. It takes about 5-10 minutes from the exit to the shop.

Address: Calle Maestro Guerrero, 6, Madrid 28015 Spain
Phone: 91.559.98.96
Today, I will be answering a question from a blog reader: Mari.

First and foremost, I use the term 'hijabi' as according to what she pointed out in her comment in my recent post 'My Last Spanish Class'.

Frankly, I wonder if the term 'hijabi' is actually a term at all. ^^ This is my first time seeing the term. Please pardon my lack of general knowledge.

Finding ' Hijabi' in Google Search varies in result but one in UrbanDictionary says:

Hijabi
A woman or girl who wears the Islamic head-covering respectfully, called Hijab. This is the Arabic word for headscarf but isn't limited to that. It also means "cover" or "protection" against evil things in the surrounding world. - by God'sent

Back to Mari's comment: "Just a quick question--what is it like as a hijabi in Spain? Would love it if you could write a post about it!! :))) Hasta luego, hermana! :)"
Shades of me in hijab, holding baby Matilda and with my beloved husband.

My answer: I am not considered as a weirdo nor wearing a hijab seems weird in Spain.

¿Por qué ? (Why?)

The main reason being that Islam was here even before Spain becomes a Catholic country. Period.

Citing from Wikipedia:
"Roman Catholicism has long been the main religion of Spain, and although it no longer has official status by law, in all public schools in Spain students have to choose either a religion or ethics class, and Catholicism is the only religion officially taught. According to an April 2012 study by the Spanish Center of Sociological Research about 71% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholics, 2.7% other faith, and about 24% identify with no religion (9.4% of the total are atheists). Most Spaniards do not participate regularly in religious services. This same study shows that of the Spaniards who identify themselves as religious, 59% hardly ever or never go to church, 15% go to church some times a year, 8% some time per month and 14% every Sunday or multiple times per week."

The bad stigma against the Muslim is not felt here or is it only me who is unaware? The Spanish or the society in Spain has an air about them as if they just don't mind other people's business. I somewhat like and somewhat don't. *Wait until I have better hold of Spanish language..this might change after that or... not*

First and foremost, Spain has so many immigrants particularly from the neighboring Islamic countries - Morocco, Algeria, Libya and etc. Moroccan was a part of the Andalus and if you realize, Spanish do carry Arabic blood because of the history although the Spaniards hate to be tied whatsoever with the Arabic culture or history.

Citing from Stormfront:
"Because the Iberian pennisula was occupied by the Moores from north Africa (mainly Morrocco) for thirteen centures, a lot of "white" Spaniards have varying degrees of Moorish blood, which is why some say Spaniards are Arabs. The Moores were basically a mixture of white semite Arab and negro."

Many of them (the Moroccans) in Spain; carry dual nationality - Moroccan and Spanish citizenship. Being said..so many Muslimah wearing hijab all about doing their daily chores and some of them are working women in the society.

Second, European society and Asian society has distinguish culture. Asian care more and sometimes are too nosier (showing too much curiosity about other people's affairs). I'm Asian...so I'm nosier..hahaha.

Me? Just a housewife. An envy of many women because many women dream to be a housewife. True? I don't know. Maybe you who read this don't agree. There are pros and cons.

Well...me who wear hijab do get occasional stares.

Not because of my hijab..but because I look different from the normal hijab-wearing-women the people in Spain normally see. My face look different. I totally do not look like Moroccan or the Arabs. I'm Asian but I'm not Chinese; who open many Alimentacions here in Madrid.

I am different so they stare...hehe. A common logic, no?

I'm used to it because I like attention. Hahaha..kidding.

Well..the years in South Korea has toughened me but what the heck. As long as they don't have blazing laser like Iron Man from their eyes, I'm gonna be fine. ^^ I'm not gonna die just because people stare, right?

In Korea, I was approached by the Christian missionary a few times. They could speak Indonesian language.

How about here in Spain? My husband said it is the same thing here. We were approached once by a Spanish Catholic and she preached us in modern standard Arabic.

Well, my hijab (by Allah's will) definitely protects my modesty but it also attracts the Christian or Catholic missionary in Spain. Wallahualam. Allah protects the one He wants to protect.

But there is a stark difference between a Muslimah who wears hijab (appropriately - according to Islamic guidelines) and who doesn't right? You can sense the difference from miles away. Read more here.

Just to make my point..read on.

Last Friday, I walked from Nuevos Ministerios Cercanias station to Estrecho Mosque and on my way, I saw a lady who looks like a Malaysian (I might be wrong), wearing a hijab and she passed me by.

We exchanged smiles and the cool 10% male character in me; held my hand up like a signal for saying 'hi, how are you doing?'. I didn't stop my track though.

My husband asked why I didn't stop and chat with her. I said that we would be late to the mosque for Friday prayer and he said I was ridiculous! I should stop and greet her. Aigoooo...

Well, maybe next time. Insha Allah.
Lights decoration near Puerta del Sol for Christmas.

Yes...I am barely into the language and now I have to end it??!! Really really sad..

Today, there were only 7 students; two Indians, one Bangladeshi, one Romanian, one Chinese, one Brazilian and one Malaysian (me!).

About 30 minutes before the class ended, my teacher informed us that there would be a long holiday and the class will recommence on the 9th of January, 2014.

I was lost...so deep into my thoughts.

That means I had to tell the class that I will not be coming until maybe after summer...o despues de la primavera? No...I'm not going to buy a pair of new shoes in Primavera...not that shop. La Primavera means spring in Spanish.

Yes..I just knew the meaning of primavera now.....hehehe.

Anyway..my teacher asked me my reason, and my shortcut answer was because of my job..partly the tour guide stint in South Korea and partly because of the visa application. Can't avoid it anyway. I will be going back to Malaysia on the 4th January 2014. Alone....T__T

Arghhhhh.....but I just have to  look at everything with a half-glass-is-full mindset. When the class ended I gave my Spanish book away to the Romanian grandmother as an early Christmas gift.

She was touched because she could not afford to buy the book but I couldn't help myself not to give the book to her because she was such a fighter! She was a grandmother of nearly 70 years old and she still has the motivation to learn. What a cool grandmother!

The funny thing was...I speak very little Spanish but every time she sees me entering the class, her face lights up and she happily pulls me aside for a chat in 100% Romanian language. I know nuts of what she talks about but I felt contented when I see her smile.

Oh well..what about my study then?

Hmm...loads of FREE courses like in SpanishPod101 and many other sites to study from so I have little worries. Plus my husband is there to correct my mistakes hehe.

The yellow Christmas tree at Puerta del Sol.

Okay then...Happy Navidad everyone!

Navidad is Christmas in Spanish...I also just learned this word. Hehehe..because I saw many advertisements on the television and our favorite channel is La Sexta.

They spin many ads for four to six minutes for every commercial break and I swear at least 50% was perfume related ads for lalalala surprise..Navidad!



One of the many gates to enter Buen Retiro Park.

We actually walked from Atocha Station until this gate. Phew...I'm exhausted. Madrid has many beautiful parks or gardens and Buen Retiro Park is one of them. Okay..parque or jardin is in Spanish and means park as in English. Hehe..I just learned these words in my class recently so I am proud to tell you. Hehe..

Parque and jardin are actually categorized as masculine words. Yeah...like you can guess the gender of your garden right? ^^ el parque or el jardin.


The park is pretty huge. All the 1.4 km2 (350 acres) of it! Anyway, I was kinda excited when my husband said he would bring me to one of the most beautiful garden in central Madrid - Buen Retiro Park.
Even just saying the name of the park sparked the excitement in me! What a sexy name for a park..*sigh*. Buen Retiro Park means "Park of the Pleasant Retreat" - source: Wikipedia

I  love autumn's sky.
The park initially belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park so everyone; including me and my husband can enjoy its' beauty.
Well...since Spain has Mediterranean climate, the autumn and changes of colors on the trees are not so obvious. The temperature is pretty mild...as now is autumn in about minimum of 8 to maximum of 20 degree Celsius. Just the way I like...cool.


This is an artificial lake where the Monument to King Alfonso XII is erected.
We had our cafe' con leche (milk coffee) near the lake as in the picture. Kinda pricey about 2.50 euros for a small glass.
Then we head off to check out the Crystal Palace. It was designed by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London, undoubtedly the gardens' most extraordinary building.
So so pretty!
How to go to Buen Retiro Park?
From Atocha Cercanias Station, Line 1 ** This was the route that I took because the station is the nearest to my house, only one station ^^.


From Retiro Metro Station, Line 2 (the nearest to the park)

I admit I am the worst cook ever! So...I am very very grateful to have a man who can cook at least better than me. Hehehe..well, we must be grateful for all little things in life right? Alhamdulillah.
After we got back from praying Maghrib and Isya' at Abu Bakar Mosque near Estrecho Metro Station, I told my husband that I had no energy left to even open the door.
So....he said the golden sentence "It's okay...I will cook tonight"
Oh yeah!!
Omelette...so you must think like Nasi Goreng Pattaya kinda omelette or the Japanese Omurice omelette, right? I thought so too. Ack!! I was wrong..big time!
Apparently, Tortilla de Patatas or Spanish Omelette uses loads and loads of potatoes.
The Tortilla Española, referred to in the English language as Tortilla, Spanish Omelette, is a typical Spanish dish consisting of a thick egg omelette made with potatoes and fried in olive oil. - Source: Wikipedia.
Ingredients
**Honestly, you must use your jurisdiction here.
4 medium sized potatoes - diced
1 big yellow onion - juliened
1 capcicum (red preferably) - juliened
5 button mushrooms - juliened
4 medium sized eggs
1 can of tuna
pinches of salt
pinches of black pepper
olive oil to fry
** How to julienne the ingredients? Look here.
Method of cooking


1. Mix the potatoes, onion, capsicum and mushroom and fry them until 3/4 cooked.

2. Put the fried ingredients into one bowl and add in the tuna.

3. Beat the eggs, add in the salt and the black pepper.
4. Mix the fried ingredients and the beaten eggs.

5. Heat the pan and put in olive oil just enough to fry.
6. Fry until golden brown.
Note1: I had eaten the Tortilla de Patatas right after it was fried. Like 30 minutes after it was fried. It tasted yummy. Or maybe because we had our dinner at 23:30 hours Madrid time so anything gives? O-O hehe...don't talk about dieting please. Nunca! hehe.. Anyway, the thing is the omelette was too big, so we just ate half of it.
The other half was saved for breakfast. But I was pretty surprised that the omelette tasted yummier in the morning when served in room temperature...of 18 degree celcius? Yes, the omelette was cold but yummy but cold but yummy! Yummy wins!

Note2: As in every family has their own personal touch in the national recipe, it is the same such as in Malaysia for example Nasi Lemak. You might find the Tortilla sold in the cafeteria might taste different from the recipe posted above. As usual it's up to our own palate. Cheers!


When I blogged about Madrid Central Mosque back in January 2013, I had some confusion where I thought there is only one mosque in Madrid. The picture above is Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid cum a mosque.

Not until I have arrived in Madrid that I know there are actually two different mosques!
One is Abu Bakar Mosque (Madrid Central Mosque) which is near Estrecho Metro Station, Line 1.
Another one is Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid near Barrio de la Concepcion Metro Station, Line 7.

Me and my husband frequent Abu Bakar Mosque for Friday prayer instead of Islamic Cultural Center because of the distance from our house.


The view at night was awesome.
So far, I have been to Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid twice.
It is obviously bigger from the one near Estrecho and the facilities are better. The area also has a decent parking lot plus a tiny park where some of the Muslims sell food and stuff after Friday prayer.
I was hoping to meet at least another Malaysian woman or Indonesian but I didn't. Hehe...I just feel like speaking Malay sometimes. Arghh!! Hehe..
Most of the attendees of the mosque are Arabs from many regions. Mostly from Morocco, Algeria and Syria. The khutbah was given in Arabic language too so I just quietly listened with little to no comprehension. Hehe..
Here, I met a few of my husband's friends too.
Funny...the first question that they asked me.
"Do you speak Arabic?" I said no.
"Then, how can you understand Al-Quran and your prayer?" Bummer...hehe. I read the translation in English.


I tried eating Moroccan sour milk called Laban and the seller put some wheat or oatmeal like that. Kinda sour... Yup, it was sour and served cold. Because I was hungry, I devoured most of it. ^^
Maybe someday I will go here again. The Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid seems to have many programs prepared and I might just participate.
How to go to Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid?


Take the Metro of Line 7 and stop at Barrio de la Concepción Station. Go out from the exit to Martinez Villergas.


Check the map as in the picture. Walking distance from the station is about 600m and based on my walking experience, 10 minutes for leisure walk like myself hehe.

Por favor, no pintar ^^

The teacher came late. Roughly after 10 minutes. My class is every Thursday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm and 2 hours is pretty long if you only understand less than half of what being discussed in the class. T__T

Tonight we continued from the page 19 of Nivel Elemental Español 2000.

We started off with changing the sentence from singular to plural form. I managed, somehow..pheww. After that, the teacher asked us to repeat the numbers in Spanish.

Uno, dos, tres....and etc. Since everyone has to repeat from number one to 50 and we have about 11 attendees today so I daydreamed a bit.

It went like this..four, tres, two, uno......lalalala...the Fergie of Black Eyed Peas's song 'Fergalicious' kept repeating in my mind.

Let's get serious.I will list down the numbers here and read ONLY if and only if you are interested.
1- uno
2- dos
3- tres
4- cuatro
5- cinco
6- seis
7- siete
8- ocho
9- nueve
10- diez
11- once
12- doce
13- trece
14- catorce
15- quince
16- dieciseis
17- diecisiete
18- dieciocho
19- diecinueve
20- veinte
21- veintiuno
22- veintidos
23- veintitres
24- veinticuatro
25- veinticinco
26- veintiseis
27- veintisiete
28- veintiocho
29- veintinueve
30- treinta
31- treinta y uno
32- treinta y dos
33- treinta y tres
34- treinta y cuatro
35- treinta y cinco
36- treinta y seis
37- treinta y siete
38- treinta y ocho
39- treinta y nueve
40- cuarenta
41- cuarenta y uno
42- cuarenta y dos
43- cuarenta y tres
44- cuarenta y cuatro
45- cuarenta y cinco
46- cuarenta y seis
47- cuarenta y siete
48- cuarenta y ocho
49- cuarenta y nueve
50- cincuenta

There you go...but of course you should learn how to pronounce the letter in Spanish first. You can go to this site that I'm currently using as another learning material.

On another story, I met an Egyptian American and a Polish girl in the Metro Madrid on the way to Legazpi Station today.

Both of them had a conversation in English and I just couldn't help myself but to speak to them. The guy has stayed around four years and the girl has stayed 10 years in Madrid.

We discussed about learning Spanish and both of them assured me that I will be able to converse in Spanish pretty fast as I speak English.

Hmm...I am quite motivated to learn now! Hehehe...after getting some motivation from pure strangers. Both of them love Madrid...well, the Madrid now is kinda chaotic with the workers strike and the economic issues.

As they said that any city, any country has their own set of problems. However, in Spain there are so many fiestas (festivals) where they had had fun which made leaving Spain is a hard thing to do and decided to stay for long.

I just hope that I will eventually fall in love with Spain. I fell head over heel with South Korea but I am pretty sure that my love for Spain is kinda like burning amber, slow but longer lasting, just like them.
Hola, ¿qué tal?

So many changes in my second session of my Spanish class!

First, the schedule has been changed  from Tuesday (Martes) to Thursday (Jueves).

Second, the teacher (profesor) has been changed from a woman (la profesora) to a man (el profesor).

31st October was Halloween celebration in Spain, so I was afraid that no one would attend the class. But my assumption went side ways..hehe. I was the last to arrive!! Bad..bad..

I love the changes especially the teacher. The previous teacher was very rapid in teaching but the new one  taught with just the right speed. Rather...the speed that I want. ^^

FYI, I am basically zero here. I don't have any clue about Spanish language.


My Spanish homework.

Okay...okay...maybe I have an advantage - my husband speaks Spanish. But still...*rolling my eyes*
So, after having two classes so far..I finally realized that that in Spanish language I must:
  1. always always change the verbs according to pronouns - Yo, tù, èl/ella, nosotros/nosotras, vosotros/vosotras, ellos/ellas
  2. memorize the verbs, nouns, adjectives in it masculine and feminine form
That is pretty basic yeah? At least for me..I just want to simplify my learning approach. However, I have another tiny situation where I can´t really recognize the intonation pattern in Spanish. Whatever it is, I find that speaking rapidly is the only option now hehehe.

And...I have to roll my ´r´ and ´rr´...that´s pretty easy...heheh I just need to get my Javanese tongue work again. My parents speak Javanese language so thickening the ´r´ is not such a big issue for me.

My husband urged me to attend formal classes in university but I refused. I need time to have my foundation strengthened and I don't want to be rushed doing so. No additional stress please...por favor!

Well...before I finish off this post, there is one thing that I'm pretty curious about my teacher, I mean both of my teachers.

They kept saying for us to use pencil instead of our pen to scribble in our textbooks. Hmmm...I don't get the point! The books is ours anyway..*rolling my eyes*. Doing the assignment in another book with pen is fine though.

I am right now listening to many Spanish podcasts from Spanishpod101.com. This is the same online language website that I have used to study Korean language back then in 2009 for my South Korea's blog. You might want to do the same..just in case it would help you like it had for me. ^^

Autumn is here! (the view from my house @ Villaverde Bajo)
I have visited my mother-in-law three times so far. As always, meeting the other side of the family has never been less than awkward. The reason being, I don't speak either Spanish, Moroccan dialect or Berber language. My main interpreter is my husband. Help!!

If you're wondering, I am married to a Moroccan Muslim man who is a permanent resident in Spain. My husband plans to apply for Spanish citizenship next year as he has lived in Madrid for 10 years as of 2013.

When asked if I want to change my citizenship?
No way Jose'! I love my Malaysian citizenship just fine. No changes please.

Hmm...that being said, am I proud of being a Malaysian? No comment.

My initial grudges

1 - Meal time

I am just a human..so I do complain from time to time. Hehhee..

As of 29th of October; it marks the 21st day of me living with my husband in Madrid now and for one thing, I still am not accustomed to the Spanish time.

Yikes.. 3 weeks have passed! Time sure flies.

Now the time is back to normal since 27th October. Previously, there was a 1 hour day-light saving.

Fajar or Subuh prayer starts roughly at 6.00am now and it is bright outside by 8.00am. We normally have our meal as followed:

  • breakfast - between 10am to 11am

  • lunch - between 3pm to 4pm

  • teatime (merienda) - at 6pm

  • dinner - from 9pm or 10pm

My Malaysian stomach? I am hungry all the time!!

In Malaysia, I am used to having breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12 noon or 1pm and dinner at 7pm.
Basically I have to eat twice the number of meals per day now in Spain ! T_T

No dieta...arghhh!!

Anyway, that is only one of my grudges.

2 - Public transportation system

 Atocha Station; one of the central stations. 

Another thing is that I have been using public transportation with my husband to explore Madrid; mainly the Metro and Cercanias. They are pretty efficient and I really love Madrid public transportation system.

As I am used to the efficient public transportation in Seoul, I have this some sort of prejudgement (a good  one) on Europe's extensive public transportation system. I am looking forward to be awed!

Okay..so why is it that I am not??

First, the station's exit door confused me.

Instead of using numbering system as the exit, Spanish uses the road or 'calle' names to mark the exit.

I get the point...but for me who is not local, it's kinda complicated.
I don't know Spanish and memorizing street's name is pretttty hard dontcha think?
Please use number..pleaseeeeeeee...

Another thing is...when I take the Metro or Cercanias, at some stations I need to tap my transportation card or slot out my ticket but at some other stations, I don't. It was super confusing!! Just tap it for God sake!!

This must be a shocker... to me at least. No restroom or toilet at most of the Metro or Cercanias Station. Until today...I will just hold it in until I'm home.

3 - Bread
My last grudge..I swear, this is the last one. Bread or 'pan'.


 The sacred Barra pan.

When I am at our home (Madrid) , I eat rice everyday or rather I force my husband to have rice with me. Hahahha...But when I'm at my mother-in-law's house, I have to eat bread. Yup...that hard barra pan.

There is not one day where I don't see people walking with a paper bag of pan or bread around my neighborhood. For an Asian, being full is by eating rice. At least for me. Bread is just some snack or during
tea-time. T_T

My likes


1 - Greeting

I love it when strangers greet each other. They seems to be very courteous.

Hola, ¿Qué tal? - Hello, how are you?
Hasta luego - See you later

Unlike in Malaysia where we hardly greet each other but.... it's common to smile and be friendly to tourist.

If I smile to another unknown Malaysian in another country; the first idea is probably that I'm a lunatic or she must be sick?? But I guess Malaysian are changing for the better nowadays...so maybe we are not that bad, right?

2 - Buying groceries is cheaper than eating outside

Yup...sometimes my purchases surprised me! They are pretty much the same price as in Malaysia!! No joke, I swear.

A menu del dia in a restaurant, can be around 12 to 15 euros but I can wipe off the same menu at home for about 2 to 3 euros 'sin' (exclude) the liquor ^^.

3 - Fruits are super cheap!!



I mean compared to the fruit's price in Korea. For this, I am greatly thankful as me and my husband love love love eating fruits so we can't get by without at least a full plate or two in a day.

4 - Parks

Madrid has so many gorgeous parks. It's different of course compared to South Korea but the park here carries its own attraction. I wish Malaysia can have big parks like Retiro Park.

5 - Olive

I love olive whether it's in the fruit form (pickled I mean because the crude one will be impossible to consume..so bitter!), in the oil form or the olive skin of the Spanish..hehehe.

Some of my friends advise me to drink a spoon of olive oil a day but we use olive oil every time for cooking so I think that is plenty enough.

IMO, the olive oil pretty much change the taste of my cooking. Definitely. Say for example if I use palm oil instead of olive oil in making 'sambal', the taste definitely changed. It's pretty hard to choose which one I prefer more.

I love love the olives pickle here. My sister brought home some of them when she studied in Jordan last 10 or 15 years and I fell in love with the pickled olive instantly!

6 - Me and myself..for being different from the rest.

The feeling of being different is not awkward here. Unlike in South Korea where the citizens stared at me for being different especially in my skin color and appearance, and I felt pretty annoyed. However here in Madrid; people are more exposed to that.

There are many races here; Moroccans, the Africans, the Latin Americans, the Chinese, the Romanians and etc.

But....I am being stared at mostly because I speak English!

People here feel kinda intimidated IMO when I speak to them in English. They somehow understood me but refused to speak to me in English.

My husband said speaking English is like fashion here in Madrid. The Spanish are now trying hard to master English and many public schools have started to have lessons in bilingual. That reminds me of South Korea!

English as a fashion statement?? No way!!
Me against the teacher and the whole class.

Nope..I'm not fighting against them. Just comparing the lack of my knowledge on Spanish language against them.

Today was my first day, officially learning Spanish in a formal class with an experienced Spanish language teacher in a local community center.

Phew...what can I say about the class?
Right now, I am at the most bottom of the class. That's about it. My mind kept drifting during the 2-hours class, 90% of the time.

Drifting because....I just want to know why there is no pause when my teacher speaks Spanish. As if she never stop for a breather...hehe. I find that pretty amazing....like wow...like I want some punctuation, like I really can't find a pattern of intonation and like I really hope I can nail where I should put the accent in my speech.

My scattered mind is a big mumble jumble...lalalalala.

My teacher probably understood my frustration as she kept throwing sympathetic glances and smiles towards my pitiful self. T_T

Most of the students in my class are either working in Madrid or married to Spanish. They come from various countries namely; China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Cameroon, Romania and me; Malaysia.

Okay...I'm the only Malaysian. Agagagaga..No one basically knows where Malaysia is situated on the world map. Even the teacher. That was great...yeah??

What I am really frustrated about was that that most of the students speak at least moderate to fluent Spanish!! I am doomed!

Having Latin alphabets in Spanish language don't make my life easier...I swear. Well...why do I think that Korean alphabets are not so difficult now? I wanna go back to South Korea!!! *Dream on..*

Let's talk about the textbook.


The teacher recommended 'Nivel Elemental - Nuevo Español 2000' by SGEL. So off we went to Gran Via on Monday to find the book at the local book store - Casa del Libro. The book was priced at 22.40 euros roughly about RM98.50.


So far so good. I will be having this class for only once a week and mainly I have to do much of the groundwork myself. My teacher can only help me 20% or so and I admit that I am quite at a loss now but it won't be forever.

Fighting!
Fear not..this is not a paper presentation for my Phd research on Spain's Economy.

The economy subject is really not my forte' and I'm not in Madrid for a scroll of Phd. So I won't bore you with one.

I was lucky that Economy was not a compulsory subject during my high school years. If it was I would  try to avoid it at all cost. I don't know why the subject of money irks me so much then. Accounting, Economy, Finance and whatever relates to numbers frightened me so much! Hahaha...

Okay...
What relates my fear on numbers with Spain and her economy?

Well...basically, at least it hurts my husband's wallet. His salary has been cut down roughly 50% after the huge economy issue starts. Ouch!!

No...I'm not gonna tell you how much is his salary and what his job is. I will leave that to your imagination.

Anyway, from a lady coming from South East Asian country; the fact of me going to an Europe country definitely broke my bank. However, I am not pretty much worried as I am now living like a parasite, sucking my husband's wallet dry...hahaha.

Back to the main story...^^

1 euro is roughly RM4.30 now. Here are a few examples of my purchases so far and I hope they can pretty much help you to gauge how much you should save up for your Spain trip budget particularly on food! Your stomach is very important...keep it happy always. ^^

Example 1


I was surprised by this simple breakfast.

The extra virgin olive oil and the tomato was sweet!

I kid you not. You should try this for breakfast in Córdoba.

Must!!

A breakfast (desayuno) in Córdoba (2 pax)

2 glasses of cafe' con leche (coffee with milk - I'm talking about espresso with fresh milk of about 150ml)
A plate of churros
A plate of pan con aceite y tomate

Total = 5.40 euros ~ RM23.22

Example 2

Purchase of groceries at Cosmo Cash & Carry (a Filipino store) in Madrid.

2.35  - Basmati rice (Arroz) 1 kg
1.55  - Soy sauce 1 liter
1.90  - 2 packets of coconut milk (Leche coco) - 250ml per packet
2.30  - 2 packets of Bombay Briyani spice
2.50  - Chilli powder 400gm
2.99  - Lajawab dried lemon grass

Total = 13.59 euros ~ RM58.40

Example 3

A snack at Acosta Reyes, Córdoba

3.00 - Tuna Bocadillo
3.50 - Patatas Bravas Bocadillo
1.30 - Cafe' con leche
2.50 - Orange juice

Total = 10.30 euros ~ RM44.29

Example 4



Purchase of groceries at El Corte Inglés (is the biggest department store group in Europe and ranks fourth worldwide. - from Wikipedia)

0.38 - 1.5 liter of mineral water
1.50 - Gazpacho (Spanish juice)
2.81 - Yayitas Choco biscuit
1.40 - Coctel Frutos (raisins and nuts)
0.72 - 2 apples (manzanas)
0.68 - 2 yellow peaches (melocoton)

Total = 7.49 euros ~ RM32.20

Example 5



Lunch at Turkish pizza for 2 pax in Madrid

6.90 - Tuna pizza
3.90 - Salad
1.50 - Coca cola 250ml

Total = 12.30 euros  ~ RM52.89

Example 6



Lunch at Taberna El Potro in Córdoba

12.00 - Menu del Dia consists of salad, main course of fried fish and calamari, bread and a cup of ice-cream
1.50 - mineral water (agua sin gas)
1.50 - sparkling water (agua con gas)
1.00 - 10% IVA tax

Total = 16.50 euros ~ RM70.95



Official website: Barajas Airport.

"Madrid-Barajas Airport (SpanishAeropuerto Internacional de Madrid-Barajasis the main international airport serving Madrid in Spain. 

In 2010, over 49.8 million passengers used Madrid-Barajas making it the country's largest and busiest airport, and in 2009 it was the world's 11th busiest airport and Europe's fourth busiest airport

It opened in 1928, and has grown to be one of the most important aviation centres of Europe. Located within the city limits of Madrid, just 9 km (5.6 mi) from the city's financial district and 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of the Puerta del Sol, Madrid's historic centre. 

The airport name derives from the adjacent district of Barajas, which has its own metro station on the same rail line serving the airport." Source: Wikipedia.

Note: Barajas is pronounced as 'Barakhas'. If you has learned Arabic or learned to read the Al-Quran, you should be familiar with this letter as the image below:



Source: Wikipedia




Source: Airport MAD Map.

There are 4 terminals in Barajas Airport.
  • Terminal 1 - for inter-continental and selected Europe flights.

  • Terminal 2 - mostly European flights and some inter-continental. You can take the Metro Line 8 to Madrid from here. I arrived at Terminal 2 when I took the KLM flight from Amsterdam as in here.

  • Terminal 3 - flights between Madrid and Barcelona.

  • Terminal 4 and Terminal 4S(satellite) - flights for Iberia Airline, Air Nostrum and OneWorld partner airlines. The terminal is separated from T1,T2 and T3.  You can also take the Metro Line 8 to Madrid from here.
Shuttle bus from T1,T2,T3 to T4

Free shuttle buses serve all four terminals. 
  • 6:30am-11:30pm every 5 mins

  • 11:30pm-1:50am every 20 mins 

  • 1:50am-6:30am every 40 mins  
Buses stop at level 1 of T1, T2 & T4, and on the ground level of T4 & T2.

How To Go To Madrid From Barajas Airport?

First you need to be sure which terminal your flight will be arriving into. 
Sadly as of now, Malaysia Airlines does not service direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Madrid. T_T
For Example: 
If you ride KLM Royal Dutch - you will arrive at Terminal 2
If you ride EgyptAir - you will arrive at Terminal 1
If you ride Emirates - you will arrive at Terminal 4
Check here for other airlines and their corresponding terminal at Barajas Airport.

You can either choose the following transportation mode:

  1. Private transfer - from airport to hotel is the most convenient but the most expensive. Unless your trip is fully sponsored by the company or you don't mind the the extra luxury then I will rule this out for a budget traveler like myself. ^^

  2. Taxi - costs about 20~25 Euros.

  3. City bus - Bus route 200 runs from the Avenida de América Transport Hub for 1.50 euro to terminals T1, T2, T3 and T4. Route 101 runs from the Canillejas Transport Hub  for 1.50 euro to terminals T1, T2, T3. More info on city buses here.

  4. Line'a Express - the express bus runs from Atocha-RENFE transport hub in Madrid city centre (very near the well-known Paseo del Arte and the main museums: the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza), about 40 minutes and costs 5 euros. Buy ticket on board (CASH ONLY).

  5. Metro (the subway or underground)  - From all terminals you can ride Metro Line 8 to Nuevos Ministerios station will take about 12 ~ 15 minutes and to central Madrid about 45 minutes. Costs 1.50 euro.

  6. Train - A modern suburban train line connects Terminal T4 with several key locations in Madrid: Chamartin, Nuevos Ministerios, Atocha and Principe Pío. About 11 minutes from Chamartin. Costs 2.40 euros.
More info on public transportation to and fro Barajas Airport is here and here.

NOTE:

The cheapest is to get the tourist pass but you need to plan your itinerary well or else the pass will just be a waste of your money. More info on tourist pass here.

The cheapest way to travel on the Madrid metro

There are two options for travelling more cheaply on the metro. The first is the Metrobús 10 journey ticket. This gives you 10 journeys on any metro line in zone A, and on buses from all EMT (bus) stations, except the Plaza de Colón to Airport line.

The second option is to buy a Tourist Travel Pass (Abono Turístico) which is valid for either 1,2,3,5 or 7 consecutive days. This pass permits unlimited travel on all forms of public transport within Madrid and its surrounding autonomous region.


Right after I arrived at Terminal 2, Barajas Airport.

Terminal 2 seems kinda old.

Alhamdulillah...I finally arrived at Madrid -Barajas Airport at about 0900 hours (local time) on 9th of October 2013. I took the KLM flight (Netherlands) from Kuala Lumpur and the transit was for an hour at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

The feeling? I felt like my first time going to overseas alone..ie: Japan, May 2007. Unpredictable.

This was my first time going to Europe because my husband is living in Madrid and I am going there to meet him.

Prior to this, I have no intention to visit other Europe countries except Italy. Oh Italy...Italy.

Anywayyyy....I am not familiar with the immigration process over the Europe continent so I was quite surprised that I was initially asked by the immigration in Amsterdam.

My initial thought: due to the transit in Amsterdam;  there would be two check ups by both Amsterdam and Madrid's immigration and custom but that wasn't the case.

I was kinda anxious if there would be any crazy immigration officer who would interview me for my trip but Alhamdulillah everything was a breeze.

Check out my dialogue with the handsome immigration guy at Schiphol Airport:

Man: How long will you stay?
Me: About 90 days
Man: Why are you coming here?
Me: To meet my husband in Madrid
Man: Your husband works in Madrid?
Me: Yes
Man: What is his job?
Me: C*******
Man: I see..ok..you may go (not before he dropped my passport and passing it to me while laughing...hahaha)

When I arrived at Terminal 2, Madrid-Barajas Airport....there was no immigration and custom so I was kinda surprised. (Note: This is part of the Schengen Area agreement where you can read more here. In summary, once you have entered your first country in Europe and pass the immigration, you won't pass another immigration under the Schengen Area until your last departure of the Schengen countries.)

Walking towards 'Cinta'!

Heheh..Cinta in Malay language means love

but 'Cinta' pronounced as 'tsinta' in Spanish

means belt (conveyor belt)




Once I reached the conveyor belt number 8 for KLM flight, I was super disappointed to know that I had to pay 1 euro for the luggage trolley. %%&%^&*&^(&@$#@ It was FREE in KLIA Malaysia or Incheon airport, Korea. I was extremely mad sort of.

Luggage trolley is pretty much a decent service for the airport's customer no?

This is the receipt as a proof and look at the ridiculous tax! 21%....T_T Since I had no small Euro notes, I had to use my precious HSBC credit card.


After meeting up my husband, we took the airport's Metro for about 20 minutes to our house near Villaverde Bajo Station. Just follow the 'Metro' sign if you intend to take the Metro towards the city center.
Personally, I would avoid summer and winter at all cost.........or maybe just summer. (Note: After living close to four years (now is 2018) here in Madrid, I prefer to avoid the summer and rather think that the winter in Madrid is not that harsh. Just a bit sad that there is hardly snow fall here during the winter season in Madrid but above all, the weather in Madrid is excellent!)

Just because Malaysia is a tropical country with terrible humidity all year long.

I am tanned enough so no..muchas gracias *pronounced as 'Muchas grathias' means 'Thank you very much'*.

According to my research so far..I have been warned that July and August is to be avoided..a BIG NO NO!!


Why summer is not the best time to visit Spain? Anytime is the best time to visit Spain!!

  1. The heat of course! - It can reach up to 40 degree celcius or 104 fahrenheit. (Note: I have experienced 42 degree celcius in Granada! Burnt...)

  2. Everyone..almost every Spaniards.. flee to the northern Spain or outside of the country during summer holidays. I pretty enjoy strolling Madrid during summer because the city is quite tranquil with lesser Madrileños around.

  3. The big cities ie Madrid are empty because of reason number 2

  4. Peak season - so many people around to get a good tan. Spain is quite famous for its beaches. (Note: Madrid can be pretty crowded any given season of the year. Spain is now the second most visited country in the world after France in 2017!!) 

You might not agree if you are from 4-season-countries but for an Asian, more so a South-East-Asian..I would prefer other seasons compared to summer.

Let's just get our climate straight here..^__^



Spain is next to France, Portugal and Morocco.


Let's make a climate comparison between Bilbao - northern Spain, Madrid - central Spain and Malaga - southern Spain.



Bilbao's highest average temperature in summer,

particulary in August is 26 degree celcius.





Madrid's highest average temperature in summer,

particulary in August is 31 degree celcius.





Malaga's highest average temperature in summer,

particulary in August is 30 degree celcius.

The best thing that I like about winter in Spain is..on average it doesn't get to below 0 degree. I had it at -30 degree celcius in South Korea hence I think I'm gonna love Spain's winter better. Although it's just numbers and we can't predict mother nature but at least I know where the climate stands yeah?

Climate comparison is from Wikipedia.


There you go, the question why even Spaniards flee to Bilbao in summer is finally answered. Bilbao is much cooler than the rest of the districts in Spain.


Let's compare with Malaysia's climate.



Data from Wikipedia.


Subang Jaya is about 8 km from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's city centre and highest average temperature from January to December is 37 degree celcius. Yikes! But I still love Malaysia nonetheless. ^^