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.