This year is flying by, and I’m sure we are all ready for a vacation. With the winter holidays creeping up around the corner it’s time to start thinking of what you want to do with the time off.
I’m sure there many of you who will be going home to be with loved ones. But for those of you that don’t celebrate the holidays, or just prefer to stick around, then here are some alternatives!
Check out one of the many Christmas markets
There are so many wonderful and unique Christmas markets throughout Europe during the month of December. If you don’t want to/can’t fly off to nearby country, then fret not! In Madrid alone you can find a plethora of markets scattered around the city. If you have been to the city center this month, then you must have already seen the markets in Plaza Mayor and Plaza de España. If you find it to be too crowded with tourists, and that isn’t your style, then Alcala de Henares has one practically in our backyard! Alcala becomes The City of Christmas for 52 days and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Stroll around the city and gaze at the Christmas lights
It’s a long-standing tradition in my family to drive around the neighborhoods looking at the brightly lit houses. In Madrid, you don’t even need a car to see lights because they are everywhere! Instead of houses, it’s the whole city up in lights.
If you want to see the lights around Madrid, but don’t want to walk because you don’t have much time, then there are bus companies that can drive you around on a short tour. You can buy tickets for 3-9 Euro and reserve a seat through Naviluz or Navibus. I’d recommend reserving a timeslot soon because it’s starting to fill up quickly!
Skiing, Snowboarding, and Skating
If you’re looking for some adventure, then get out of the city and go skiing or snowboarding! Just 60 km from Madrid is the ski resort of Puerto de Navacerrada. If you’re really into winter sports, then you can always take a short flight to Switzerland, Austria, or any other European country known for their world-class Ski resorts.
For something a bit more romantic, like ice skating, head over to the Plaza de Colón outdoor ice skating rink. If that not big enough, then Alcalá de Henares has the largest outdoor ice skating rink in all of Spain in el recinto feriál. Even if you’re terrible at ice skating and lack the coordination to do fancy twirls, it’s still a fun activity to do with your friends.
Potluck with friends for the holiday
For those of you that want to get into the holiday spirit, but don’t want to be alone, call up some friends and have a potluck! Setting up a Secret Santa gift exchange with your friends and coworkers is also a great way to put smiles on everyone’s faces. Tis’ the season for giving afterall.
If you’re the only one sticking around for the holidays, then check out the Facebook groups and see who else will be around. It’s never a bad time to make new friends.
Take advantage of the time off Travel!
Whether you’re a Grinch like me, or you simply prefer to take this time off to go see something new, then book a train/plane/bus/blablacar out of Madrid! There are so many countries that are easily accessible from Spain, that’s one of the perks of living in Europe. Oh, and you don’t even need to get a visa for any country in the Schengen area so why not? And if you’re worried about money there are still ways to travel around Europe, or Spain, on a budget.
Natasha Isabel Koller , MA in International Education 2017-2018