Linda Löfling

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Food & Travel My Madrid

MY MADRID : MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL

I have had my shared part of visitors since I moved to Madrid and I brought them all to this place: Mercado de San Miguel in the center of Madrid.

This is not a simple market. In fact, it is a beautiful building where you can enjoy both gastronomy and architecture at once! It’s characteristical architectural design is very beautiful with it’s iron, pane and natural light. Apart from being an axtravagant market, there is a possibility to visit exhibitions and concerts inside and you can also buy souvenirs, flowers and cosmetics inside the market if you want to by something more than food.

Here you have the opportunity to buy typical Spanish products and you can also try a variety of traditional Spanish dishes in the many stands around: gazpacho, tapas, sausages, fish, seafood and the mandatory: jamón and paella. There are also other alternatives in this market if you fancy something else, sushi, fruit stands with smoothies and much more. Thirsty visitors can find several stands with beverages to accompany your food, champagne, sangria, beer, wine…everything you can ask for.

I can warmly recommend you to pass by here if you are in Madrid. Each time I brought someone here, they have been very happy with the experience – and surely left with full stomachs. The market is located very central and nearby many tourist attractions, so make sure you stop by here for brunch/lunch/a glass of sangria before continuing your touristing!

 

Today’s little travel tips! Now there is a grey and rainy Paris waiting for me outside, have a happy weekend people! <3

 

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Expat Life Inspiration My Paris

A MORNING IN PARIS

Bonjour ma Belle!

You just woke up from your beautysleep and the sunrays are shining softly in your face to promise you a good day ahead. You take a shower, put on your best clothes and as you pass the hall before leaving your apartment, you see a glimpse of yourself in the mirror: you look a million dollar. Sunglasses on and phone, keys and handbag with you as you step out on the Parisian street. You stop to arrange your scarf as it is still a bit chilly in the mornings and while standing there, you observe the Parisians as they look for fresh baguettes at their local boulangerie, take a walk with their dogs and come back from a run in the nearest park. You see their gesturing as they speak with eachother, you hear their typical Parisian complaints about everything from politics to the quality of their croissant this morning and you smile at how all the classic prejudgements you heard about Parisians before you came here, seem to be true.

You start walking down the streets towards your favourite brasserie. Luckily your place, a window seat in a corner is still free and the waiter is someone who recognize you. He smiles at you when you sit down and he proposes you what you always ask for when you come there; un petit déjeuner continental – meaning a breakfast all inclusive, extra everything. You have your coffee, juice, yoghurt, croissant, pain au chocolat, tartine with Nutella, butter, jam, everything you can ask for when you are a hungry girl on an early morning. You get your food, you take up your phone and see that you have recieved a message from a dear friend who wants to meet you later, you can’t help but smiling from ear to ear as you answer with one word “OUI!”. You take up a book you just bought, and before you start to dig in to the “to die for” breakfast in front of you, you gaze outside the window and you see a bunch of tourists crossing the street, their faces turned towards the skyline, pointing. You can see their excited calls to eachother and you understand why as you lift your eyes and you see the Eiffel Tower there in the far distance. One of the tourists spots you as you observe them, she smiles at you and you realize that for her you must look like one of the locals. Just one of the lucky 2,2 million Parisian inhabitants sitting here on your favourite spot in this particular neighbourhood enjoying your breakfast and making plans with friends and you smile back to her as you think about how surrealistic it is that she got that impression completely right.

Greeting and the very best tuesday wibes from Paris <3

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Food & Travel Motherhood My Paris

LES FERMES DE GALLY : TIPS FOR A FAMILY TRIP OUTSIDE PARIS

Something all children love to do is to go to a farm! See and touch animals, maybe be able to feed and pet them, sit in a tractor, see how the farmer take care of the yard….it is exciting even for me who grew up on a farm. I am proud of the job farmers do and I would definitely like to see that this profession raised in status from what it sometimes is nowadays. When I was younger, it was geeky being a farmer, something ugly you said about people who weren’t cool enough. In fact, the farmer’s job takes sometimes five years of education at a university, and you need a lot of knowledge to run a farm and take care of it properly in order to make money of the job. All this to say that I really like to bring children to the farm and teach them (and myself)  about agriculture, plants and animals. I think it is a very important job that is performed on a farm and I’d like to educate my son to know and to respect the nature, animals and understand how food is produced. How Scandinavian of me to get all head over heels when talking about the respect for the environment huh? 🙂

Located some 30km from the center of Paris, you find les fermes de Gally that is a relatively big farm with loads of activities for children. Except the animals and the regular farm attractions, there is also a possibility to pick fruits and vegetables when the season allows it, there are ateliers where children can bake their own bread, produce honey to mention some things, there is a café with very tasty brunches available, and a gift shop as well as a market with loads of exclusive and rare brands, here you can find all sorts of food, fresh as well as conserved.

I was there around christmas 2018 and it was a good day to come as there were not so many people there, now when the weather is more inspiring, I guess the place will be more and more filled with curious children who wants to discover the newborn animals when they arrive. The small goats are always popular as they are so kind and tolerant to small children’s hands coming to pet and maybe even lift them. Cuties.

It was a good trip, enough to do in a day when you may feel too absorbed by the city and you would like to get a touch of fresh air (and let the children run off their energy). After you’ve been at the farm, you can prolongate the exercution by taking a short drive to Versailles as it is not so far located from les Fermes de Gally. Versailles is a really nice city, not only for it’s extravagant castle, but for the splendid buildings and the pretty streets around – but that is another blog post!

 

Have a lovely saturday, sunny greetings from Paris! <3

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Expat Life My City Tips

IS IT EXPENSIVE LIVING IN SPAIN?

Many people dream about moving ot Spain and live a happy life in the sun, so did I! Now when I am here, I get many questions about how much it costs to live here, so I thought that we could go through the economical situation here a little:

The cost of living is relatively low here compared to other European countries, which for me means that I can enjoy a high quality of life without having to break a bank.

First of all, the cost of living dependa a lot on which city in Spain you live in. The following cities are the most expensive ones to live in Spain:

  1. San Sebastian
  2. Madrid
  3. Barcelona
  4. Tarragona
  5. Bilbao

Spain is a very popular destination for expats, it’s relaxed culture, never ending shining sun, and cheap living costs have an appeal that is difficult to resist! The country had to suffer turmoil during the financial crash, but from 2015 the economy started to show signs of recovery. Today, the standard of living is balancing out in accordance with salaries, though the average salaries as well as the minimum wage, remain low compared to the rest of Europe.

Now since I live in the capital, this blog post will be focused on Madrid. To begin with, we can have a look at Madrid’s cost of living in comparison to other main cities, taking into account the costs of food, housing, clothes, transportation, entertainment and personal care. IT is not for free to live here, but it is way cheaper than for example London (and the weather is better too).

  • 42% less expensive than New York
  • 39% less expensive than London
  • 33% less expensive than Los Angeles
  • 14% less expensive than Munich
  • 4% less expensive than Brussels

Where to live and how much to pay for it?

Finding a place to live is not that tricky, but prices of housing vary a lot and for the central areas where I looked for apartments, prices are the same as what I paid for renting in Oslo, Norway! Between 1000-1800 eur a month for an apartment suitable for a family does not seem as chocking, at least not while I was looking for a rental apartment. Of course you can always find alternatives, renting a room and share costs with flatmates, live a bit outside of the city center, there are many options if you are a bit flexible. I think that the whole central part of Madrid is a safe and nice place to live, when coming as a tourist or if you want to profit of the city life. For me who has a little one, I prefer to stay a bit more outside the center, and closer to Retiro and the more calm part of the city. Retiro/Goya/Salamanca/Pacífico are all calm areas nearby Madrid’s central park: Retiro, I love living here and I can warmly recommend the are for everybody coming to Madrid with children. However, if you are Scandinavian, maybe you want to stay around la Moraleja, also known as the Scandinavian part of Madrid. I thought that was way too far away form the city center, and despite the pretty surroundings, that area did not appeal to me much.

Many Spaniards live smaller than Scandinavians are used to, and the standard of the apartments are not at all in comparaison with what we have in the North. Large apartments are always available if you want them…but with Spain’s warm climate and outdoor lifestyle, you may find yourself spending much of your time out, sitting at cafés with friends, enjoying the beach (not in Madrid though but in other cities!), or exploring the city, so maybe not that much need for that enormous flat neither, one has to make compromises, right?

Conclusion is that housing in Madrid, is much more expensive than I thought and I honestly do not know how people do to get around here, since an average salary is around 1600eur brut per month! Maybe all Spaniards are lucky to be born with rich grandparents? 🙂

Eating outside everyday? Yep, absolutely!

For the best value, there are good deals around lunchtime, called “menú del día” (the menu of the day, or lunch special). Lunch is the big meal of the day, a sit-down affair of at least an hour, and it’s filling and well-balanced. In most places, the menú del día usually costs between 12 to 20eur. For that price, you get a first course (generally a salad, soup, paella, or vegetable dish), a main course (usually meat or fish, though vegetarian options are increasingly common), a beverage (which can be beer or wine), bread, and often either dessert or coffee.

Though individual grocery bills can be hard to estimate, 100eur per couple per week is ample. In fact, if you like to eat out (and many people do), your in-home grocery budget will likely be below this amount. We eat out often and the grocery bill has so far not gone over 100eur per week.

How about getting around the city?

Madrid is designed for walking, with most shopping centers easily accessible on foot and most attractions easily accessible by public transport. For longer distances (or bigger shopping trips), public transportation is readily available too. Excellent bus and train service gets you quickly around town or around the country. 10 metro/bus rides cost around 12eur and I do not use the public transport often at all, I feel I can get myself to wherever I need, in 20-30 minutes by foot. Madrid is not that big 🙂

Healthcare and such?

Spanish healthcare consists of both private and public healthcare, with some hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offering both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública). You don’t need to have private health insurance to get medical treatment, but it usually allows you to get faster treatment for non-emergency procedures, diagnosis tests, and specialist consultancies.

The Spanish healthcare system is ranked among the best in the world and from what I’ve seen, luckily not that much, it is fast, professional, and affordable. I have had good help from the times I have been at the doctor here, both for myself and for my son, and the prices have been as expected.

 

If I should draw a little conclusion about how I feel life is here in Madrid, then I must say that I really appreciate the possibility and habit of eating and meeting people outside instead of inside. I feel that I have a higher quality of life when I have more activities to choose from, thanks to the weather, which is also something that makes that life itself feels easier. I do not spend that much money on clothes or interior things as I did when living in Scandinavia, as I do not really care that much about my home anymore, I live most of my life outdoors – and shorts are cheaper than jackets. Briefly, less money (salary) in my pocket if I want to stay and work here, but way much more life lived!

This is not a fully accomplished list of what you need to know about the cost of life in Spain versus other places in the world, but many people have asked me questions around this topic so I thought that a small introduction could be at it’s place. If you would have any further questions about life in Madrid, then please give me a shout and I will try to answer as good as I can!

 

Besitos! <3

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Expat Life Food & Travel Inspiration My City Tips

MY MADRID : GOOD CO-WORKING AT STARBUCKS ARGÜELLES

I am not a big fan of chains, and least of all Starbucks, but this spot is actually a really nice one to sit and work so I must recommend it for that reason! Food and drinks are as expected, but the location and the ambiance is really nice. I have not seen it very crowded ever and I normally arrive around 10am or so, so it is not super early and yet many of the good spots left to choose between.

There are tables upstairs too, so you can choose a calmer place if you feel like it becomes too noisy downstairs.

Maybe not the fanciest café tips for tourists travelling to Madrid, but a good tips for the ones who seek a place to sit and work!

Today I am in Aranjuez working, one has to travel while one can! Soon enough I’ll be sitting tied to a desk somewhere, being employed and not able to enjoy my freedom as I do today! God I really love to be able to work from everywhere in the world, so much more worth than a big, fat payslip! Freedom!

Carpe Diem etc, right? <3

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