7 Ways to Stand Out as a Foreigner in Madrid

So you're a foreigner living in Madrid or maybe you're just visiting the city, and for some odd reason you don't want anyone to mistake you for a local. There are many ways you can stand out in this city, but here are a few if you are looking for some annoyed glances from the locals...

1. Block the escalator
The Spanish are generally relaxed people. They eat slowly, enjoy long conversations and move leisurely. Except in the metro. Once descending those stairs into the grim tunnel, the mission is to get in and out as quickly as possible. If you really want to receive some hateful glares and automatically get tagged as a tourist, don't stand on the right with the others, but stand on the left side of the moving escalator blocking any of the walkers from passing.
**Bonus points if it forces them to miss their metro**

2. Eat dinner early
Leave the house and go out for dinner at 6 p.m. It's a modest time, right? Maybe even make a reservation! The Spanish eat no earlier than 1:30 p.m. for lunch, and not before 9 PM for dinner. So go early and order a nice, full meal. If you can even find a restaurant that's open for dinner at that hour, you may be able to enjoy the place to yourself!

3. Don't greet anyone with two kisses
When you meet someone new, greet them with a hello and a small wave. Maybe a nice high-five! But never two kisses - one on each cheek. Three kisses would be fine. Or maybe just one, but never two.
Read Kaley's view on dos besos here.

4. Don't download Whatsapp
It seems that everyone in Europe has downloaded the app Whatsapp to replace SMS. It's free and easy. All you need is a 3G/4G connection or Wifi. SMS texting costs money, so this is a free alternative. If you really don't want to make new Spanish friends, don't download it. You won't be bothered by any messages to go "tomar algo" if you don't have the app.

5. Don't greet or say goodbye to anyone
Elevators. Locker rooms. Waiting areas. These are some of the places that you do not want to say "Hola" if your goal is to be a true tourist. The other patrons will greet you and say "hasta luego" even if you're half-naked stranger in the gym's locker room. Just don't make eye contact and keep your mouth shut as to not appear local (or friendly).

6. Do not weigh and label your food at the grocery store
Put all of your bagged produce into your basket and get into the long line for the register. Ignore the machines with the scales and large keyboards. Assume that the cashier will weigh and price the food for you. When they ask you about the missing stickers, shrug your shoulders in confusion and force the cashier to run back to the produce section to weigh your bananas. **Bonus points if there is a long line of people behind you**

7. Keep your wallet/cell phone in your back pocket
You know how that worn leather wallet perfectly molds to your right butt cheek in your back pocket? Leave it there. Ignore all of the other commuters on the metro who are tightly clutching their zipped bags or the people in the plaza who wear their backpacks over their bellies. This should be no warning sign at all. Just keep taking pictures and speaking in loud English. You should attract no attention at all. But don't be surprised if you're missing something when you go to pay for that churro.

Have you ever done any of these in a European city? Or did I miss anything? Comment below!

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  1. hahaha this is so great. The metro one realllly gets me too! Outta my way tourists. Also - when I went home for the first time since moving to Spain all of my friends kept trying to plan 6:30 and 7:00 dinner dates. We eventually met in the middle and decided on 8:00. ;)

    xx Jen @ foodloveandlifeblog.blogspot.com

    1. Haha but 8:00 is still so early here! Thanks for reading, Jennifer! And I love your blog! Looking forward to meeting up in February :)

  2. Haha very true! I totally hate metro blockers, but honestly I'm still getting used to the two besos!

    1. I honestly hate the dos besos! I mastered the one-cheek kiss while in South America and grew to like it.. but the two kisses just isn't as easy. Accidental noses grazes happen from time to time and that can get a little uncomfortable.. haha

  3. Haha, I loved this post. In addition to metro blockers, I HATE when people walk three or four across, making it impossible to squeeze by. No me gusta!

    1. Yes, I agree! I'm basically always late no matter what i'm doing.. so that will not work for me!

  4. Just ran across your blog and this entry. Thanks so much for linking to my blog. All of these things are so true! I've become much more Spanish in almost all these aspects :) Trying not to stick out like a sore thumb hahaha

    1. Thank YOU, Kaley! I love your blog and especially that dos besos post! Very helpful :)