Nueve meses de invierno y tres meses de infierno
Nine months of winter and three months of hell. That is the saying that is linked to Madrid. Now, as someone who was brought up in Scotland, I can tell you quite honestly that the 9 months of winter part of this saying is the largest exaggeration known to man and it really never got that cold during my time in Madrid. However, the three months of hell part? That certainly has more than a grain of truth to it. Madrid is one of the highest European capitals sitting at 600m above sea level. This means that the weather can shoot from quite cold to very, very, hot. As in 45-degree-hot in midsummer. It is in this 45-degree heat that my pale Scottish temperament struggles somewhat and thus here is my guide on how to survive the burning Madrileño summer.
Wherever you head to, it is never a bad idea to carry around a little fan - it is very useful with the added bonus of looking rather cool
Get out of town
If it is at all an option for you, do as the Spanish do, and leave town. Don’t be fooled into thinking the Madrileños enjoy this extreme heat either. In the summer months, you will find restaurants and shops closed all over town because people have fled the city in favour of the beach or the mountains. If you are an English teacher and your contract ends before the summer, don’t even think twice about leaving for a couple of months and only returning when the heat is less comparable to being set on fire.
I was never able to go away for the whole summer (all the sad-faced emojis here) because of my job but there were ways of getting around that too. Madrid is smack bang in the middle of Spain which means it is pretty close to everything. You can get to the beach in Valencia quickly for example (advice on budget ways to do so can be found here.) However, if you only have a day off to play with, you could head to the natural parks in the Communidad de Madrid. There are walking groups that use handy websites such as this one Meetup to find other people who want to head to the mountains around Madrid to hike, explore, meet new people and most of all, escape the city heat- Remember it is a lot cooler in the countryside where you are high up and the breeze hits your sweaty face for a delightful moment of relief. If you can't be bothered meeting other people and the idea of doing any sort of exercise whatsoever in these extreme conditions, gives you pains of anguish, then fear not! There is another way. There are also natural lakes you can spend the day chillaxing at, in and around the Madrid region. These lakes can be reached by public bus (hard), car share (easier) or alternatively rent a car which doesn't have to be too dear if you investigate a little.
Outdoor Swimming pools
The days that I could not get out the city, I would basically live at the Piscina de Lago, the outdoor swimming pool in Casa del Campo. Lago is one of many outdoor municipal swimming pools in Madrid that opens over the summer months. The fun thing to do in summer is to visit a different public pool every week, trialling and sampling everything on offer. As much as there are other really nice pools which are perhaps less crowded with kids (Here is a list I found rather useful), the reason I keep on coming back to Lago time and time again is because it is really easy to get to (line 10, Lago) and is also in a really pleasant area. It is situated right next to the real life lake in Casa del Campo, which is lovely to walk around but a total no-go for swimming, unless you feel like contracting Cholera. So what you can do is mix and match between dipping tranquilly in the open air pool, going for a stroll around the lake, sipping gin and tonic in the bars around the lake and then, back to the pool to bob about in the pool again (just make sure you don't lose your entrance pass) Entrance to Lago is about 5 euros for the day and it is usually open until around 8.30pm (Opening time here).
Whichever outdoor pool you choose, remember they will close by Septemeber regardless of whether the sun is still blazing or not, so make the most of them while you still can
Take advice from this little rascal- "Keep calm and go to the Outdoor Pool"
Get a good night sleep.
Easier said than done but not being able to sleep in the heat, is the hardest thing about the summers in my opinion. I spent hours writhing around waiting for sleep to come in the summer, only to realise it was just easier to go out and pretend sleep is not that important. It is true that the nightlife in Madrid, during the summer, is particularly mad. Everyone is out all the time and at all hours of the morning/night. It is just too hot to sleep so people party instead. This is amazing and is one of the reasons I tolerate Madrid in the summer. However, everyone eventually reaches a point, where they too will need to knock back a couple of Zs to stay semi-sane. There are ways of making your bedtime slightly less frustrating but you have to spend a little money. I am not talking about buying air conditioning, which of course would be ideal but also highly unrealistic as no one seems to have it, but definitely, buy a fan. Go to your local Chino, buy a little fan and point it at your feet when you are asleep.
Top Tip: Try not to point fans at your face when you sleep (however tempting it may be) as it will dry out your throat but also it is believed by some that your feet regulate your body temperature. So cold feet equals cooler body, which equals happy dreams.
Top Tip 2: Get a two-litre bottle of water and freeze it. Once frozen, this can be used as a reverse hot water bottle in your bed. Wrap the frozen bottle of water in a towel and keep it in bed with you (preferably at your feet..) and this will keep your sheets cool at all time. Plus the next day the ice had begun to melt creating a nice, cool morning beverage. Genius.