Madrid: ideal for bookworms and party animals alike!

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is rather cool. There are huge museums, majestic streets, beautiful well-read people, and the nightlife is unlike anything you’ve seen before. People are NICE, you can make friends in a blink of an eye. The neighbourhood of Malasaña is well known for its busy nightlife.

Check out the top ten nightclubs in the city, which includes the Nasti and the Joy Eslava: http://www.spainted.com/madrid/best-nightclubs-discos-in-madrid/

Barça-Madrid: politics and balls

Did you know that there is a political reading to Spain’s most famous rival equipos de fútbol (football teams) Real Madrid and Barça?


Caption: Real Madrid is always blanco (white), and Barça is sometimes referred to as  azul-grana (blue and scarlet). And that’s a balón amarillo (yellow ball) they’re after.

On the one hand, the Real Madrid symbolizes the right wing and Spanish nationalism, and on the other hand, Barça is viewed as representing the left wing and Catalanism, which fights for the independence of the region called Cataluña, the capital of which is our dear old Barcelona.

There’s even a Spanish word for a Barça-Madrid partido (match), it’s called ‘un clásico’ (a classic). Apparently, other than the Liga de Campeones de la UEFA (UEFA Champions League), el clásico is the most followed football match in the world, watched by millions of people.

FYI: When there is un clásico going on, people everywhere go pretty WILD, so my advice is to avoid driving or using public transport in general.

Caption: The Ramblas de Barcelona after a clásico.

Check out this very interesting article about Spanish football and politics: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/may/04/barcelona-real-madrid-spain-pain

Yes, the Spanish word fútbol, comes from English ‘football’, that’s a no-brainer. It’s spelt as it is pronounced, there’s a bit of Spanish logic for you. Fair play, though, don’t you think?

Modern football was introduced to Spain in the late 19th century by a combination of mostly British immigrant workers, visiting sailors and Spanish students coming back from Britain.

(Spanish also has the word balompié to refer to football, but for some reason nobody seems to use it much. Balompié is a literal translation of  ball + foot: pie + balón: balompié.

The ‘n’ turns into an ‘m’ because it obeys a gramar rule: never use an ‘n’ before the letter ‘p’, instead use an ‘m’. The accent on the e indicates the stress is at the end of the word).

The word of the day is invierno (winter), from Latin hibernum. Winters can be pretty mild in Spain, compared to other countries in Europe. It can be really warm until December, that’s why they have the saying Hasta el día de Navidad no es invierno de verdad (Winter doesn’t really come until Christmas day).

Today’s word is el otoño, from Latin autumnus, autumn, or the fall. The word contains the famous letter ñ, called eñe in Spanish (pronounced as the gn in “cognac”). FYI: La eñe has its own place in the Spanish alphabet, after N. It is therefore not treated as a mere n with an accent on top— it’s alphabetical independence is similar to the English W (historically, W and Ñ come from a doubled V and a doubled N respectively). Funny how language is alive and evolves into different letters and words, isn’t it?

Sitges is a lovely little coastal town about 35 kilometres southwest of Barcelona, Spain. It’s famous for its beaches, carnival festivals, wild nightlife, and for being home to many gay pride festivals. Sitges has a street called la Calle del Pecado, “the street of sin”. It’s not just for gays though, everyone’s mixed. That is SO cool.

The word balón (ball, especially a large one used in sports) comes from the augmentative of bala, the Spanish for bullet. Etymologists say it comes from French balle, and German ball, which may possibly stem from Proto-Indoeuropean bhel- “to blow, inflate, swell”. Swell!

Today’s word is la primavera, from Latin prima (first) vera (spring), the spring.

The popular Spanish saying La primavera, la sangre altera means that the spring stirs your blood. You know,  flowers bloom, animals mate, and girls start flashing their goods about.

Today’s word is campeón, which comes from late Latin campionem (nominative campio) “gladiator, fighter, combatant in the field,” from Latin campus “field (of combat). This is the exact same root as the English equivalent ‘champion’!

Are you a culé?

Did you know that if you’re a supporter of the Barcelona football team you’re called a culé? It comes from Catalan culer, which has nothing to do with being ‘cooler’ and everything to do with ass. But… WHY?, you’ll probably wonder, and you’ll realize you only need to keep reading to find out.

From 1910 to 1922 Barcelona football team, aka Barça, usually played at the stadium on calle Industria in Barcelona. Barça matches would be so packed with followers that people even sat on the outside wall surrounding the football field, with their backs to the street. Hence, people walking down the street would only see a row of buttocks at the top of a wall. Barça football fans were thus called culers (from cul, Catalan for ‘ass’). Spanish adopted the word and modified spelling to culé (pl. culés).

Can you believe this cute word actually means the ‘top scorer’ in fútbol (football)? I mean, try to utter the word pichichi and you’ll feel like you’re rather sweet-talking to a baby Care Bear or something. You wouldn’t in a million years presume you’re referring to some Spice Girl’s wet dream.

Would you?

Anyway, it turns out that pichichi was how people referred to Rafael Moreno Aranzadi (alias Pichichi), a very famous Spanish footballer who, sadly for him, played for Athletic Bilbao seven decades before any Spice Girl could even walk straight. Truth be told, though, he was not much of a cutie, was he? What do the ladies say?

La liga means league as in la liga de fútbol (football league), also used for political leagues, but a more interesting meaning is ‘garter’, that elastic band or suspenders women used to hold up their stockings…

Indeed, liga comes from the verb ligar, which in turn derives from Latin ligō, ligāre (to tie, to unite).

You’ve probably heard of Messi, aka el Dios del Fútbol (the God of Football), the Argentine footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga Club FC Barcelona (the league) and is also the captain of Argentina’s national team. He’s won shit loads of football awards! Forbes magazine says Messi’s one of the world’s top-10 highest-paid athletes.

He’s also a bit of a pottymouth!

In 2010, after winning La Liga (the league), the top professional football division of the Spanish football league system, he said:

“Viva el Barça, viva Catalunya y aguante Argentina, la concha de su madre”.

The literal translation would be:

“Hurray for Barça, hurray for Catalonia, long live Argentina, your mother’s seashell (cunt)”, but we would say something along the lines of “Hurray for Barça, hurray for Catalonia, long live Argentina, for fuck’s sake”.

Being Argentine, Messi is prone to say “la concha de tu madre” a very common colloquialism in Argentina.

Controversially, he has also recently been done for tax fraud together with his dad. Over USD 5 million. This type of tax fraud could result in one to six years in prison for the guilty parties, and a penalty of up to six times the amount evaded. Ouchies.

Read all about Messi’s tax case here:


Here’s an interview with English subtitles: