The traffic, the bustle, the sophisticated and beautiful people — tanned and rejuvenated after August in Cádiz or Valencia or Almería — marching and swaying, giggling arm in arm, drawn towards the dizzying lights of the Madrid night. A care-free, giddy human chain of mischievous excitement. Monday morning a million miles away.

While lugging two bulging and wobbly-wheeled suitcases up Gran Via on that stifling Saturday night in September 2016, I had that giddy feeling you get in Times Square for the first time. By then, I had crammed all the classic books on Spain — the likes of Giles…


Netflix has reached a place that 99.99% of companies can only dream of: it has firmly embedded itself in our daily lives, and it has done so right in front of our eyes.

Below you will see an extract from the Irish Times. It is essentially a TV guide for the month ahead. It assumes that everyone has Netflix, we all assume everyone has Netflix.

For a subscription-based platform, this is the holy grail — going beyond that wall where you are no longer a consumer decision. People don’t want to be the only ones without something. …


Healing through fiction: Spain’s long-awaited step towards closure.

Title: Patria (Homeland)

Author: Fernando Aramburu

Published: 2016

Language: Spanish — translated to all major languages.

The best-selling book in Spain in 2017 and 2018, Patria is already considered a contemporary classic.

For a country which has for so long struggled to process and move on from its troubled past, Patria is a literary work that will mark another step towards closure after the disbandment of ETA in 2018.

Story: Set in a small town within the Guipúzcoa province in the Basque Country, Patria tells the story of a local businessman murdered…


20 curiosities of Spanish life I have finally come to terms with

Beautiful Valencia.

The promised land for any expat is finding that sweet spot, where you can be your true self while enjoying the best that a new culture has to offer.

Some never get there; the challenge of letting go of old habits combined with the thoughts of embracing radical changes proves too much.

Five years ago the idea of ordering coffee in a glass in my local bar and having dinner at home while watching Masterchef Spain at 22:30 would have seemed unfathomable at best. But here we are.


Noisy neighbours; rubbish collection trucks crashing about at 1am; the incessant TV and radio debates; littering; the make-you-want-to-jump-off-a-bridge bureaucracy; backward views on race; the political battles between left and right; regional nationalism in its extreme form.

There are many infuriating things about living in Spain, but what it lacks in political maturity, it makes up for with culture, art, gastronomy, sport, sunsets, and stunningly diverse lands.

So here is my Top 50 list of things — many of which are rudimentary — in no particular order that make Spain such a bloody wonderful place to live.


Brendy Boyle’s La Liga Season in Review 2019/20

THAT moment Photo by Oskar M. Bernal

It was a season where the best moment was the first moment. That Aritz Aduriz moment. His first touch of his final season.

Real Madrid confirmed themselves as the least worst team in Spain. They rarely convinced but, more often than not, they found a way. ‘Vencer sin convencer,’ as they say here.

They didn’t have Messi, but they had a team. …


Plaza Mayor, Madrid (Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash).

In the blink of an eye everything changed: waiting in line outside supermarkets suddenly felt normal; being a dog owner became the ultimate symbol of freedom; and we monitored the outside world from our living rooms, analysing each masked and gloved passer-by as they hurried along barren streets, patrolling police cars adding to the dystopian feel of it all.

Spain has begun a six-week transition to what prime minister Pedro Sánchez has termed “the new normal” and with that we are stepping gingerly out into a new Spain, unsure of what to expect.

Whereas, six months ago barely a handful…


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Spain’s digital divide leaving impoverished youth behind

At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, we were told about how the virus would not discriminate. We indeed saw several high-profile names here in Spain, from Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to professional football players, test positive for the virus. However, it quickly became apparent that it would be those at the lower rungs of the social ladder who would be hit hardest by the pandemic.

Not just in Spain, this has been the case across the globe. With little to zero job security, many have been…


A letting agency in Madrid where prices have soared in recent years. (Photo fromEFE)

With the death toll well over 22,000 and the economy ground to a halt, the impact of COVID-19 on Spain has many fearing the worst. With less than one in five adults under the age of 30 having the means to move out of home, it’s likely that Spain’s young adults will ultimately once again be the ones to bear the brunt of what’s to come.

Right now, as Spain throws everything at its most serious humanitarian crisis since the 1936 Civil War, it feels a little bit trivial to talk economics, but it cannot be ignored.

It appears that…


Medical professionals from Hospital de La Paz, Madrid during COVID-19. Photo by Kiko Huesca (EFE), featured in Cadena Ser

Despite being lauded in recent years for its high-quality and inclusive healthcare system, Spain’s current healthcare professionals have been ill-equipped to tackle COVID-19, the biggest humanitarian crisis facing the country since the 1936 Civil War.

Unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the Spanish healthcare system as I tongue-tied my way through daily interactions in broken Spanish back in 2016, I nodded and smiled, presuming that the receptionist in the medical centre in Alcalá de Henares was telling me that my bill would arrive shortly in the post: it never did.

Quality care for all

Living in a society where…

Brendan Boyle

Irish - living in Madrid. Write about Spain, its cities and culture; real people and places; current affairs. Supporter of real journalism.

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