So the rest of the world has a lot more vacation time than Americans. In Spain, most people have the entire month of August off from work. They also have about a week for Semana Santa (Easter) and more time for Christmas and the New Year. They also have lots of one day holidays. Aside from holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, how much time off do Americans get? I don't think it even comes close (except for teachers...but we're unique!).
So what does this mean for tourists? It means that lots of smaller "mom and pop" stores shut down for the entire month of August. Some larger stores even shut down. This can be frustrating for someone who wants to buy presents or eat at their favorite pizzeria. For example, I love eating at this pizzeria called Pizzateca near my apartment. I went to buy a slice of delicious, heavenly pizza the other day - and it was closed with a sign that read, "Closed until the 15th of August." That is actually not too bad - only half of the month.
With my remaining days dwindling in Madrid, I made a mini Bucket List of things that I still had to accomplish. I needed to try a pastry from the famous La Mallorquina pastry shop in the middle of Puerta del Sol - the main plaza in Madrid. I woke up early today, all excited to try some madrileno pastries and a coffee, and I ran to the store. However, the gates were closed and there was a sign that read, "closed for vacations - reopening on September 1st." Once AGAIN - closed!
One more quick story: Madrid is famous for its Violeta caramel candies. They're delicious, unique to Madrid, and something that madrilenos give to other madrilenos for gifts. I, of course, wanted to bring some home to my family and friends. I walked by the tiny shop every single day and thought, 'Well, no rush! I have 7 weeks here.' I walked there the other day to finally purchase some Violetas and it was entirely shut down - until September 5th. I couldn't believe it!
Don't get me wrong - many shops stay open, specifically for tourists, but a lot do shut down for August. Oh yeah - the famous croquette place was also closed before I got to try it! What a shame.
Anyways, keep this in mind if you plan on coming to Spain in the summer! (Oh, also in August it's about 95 degrees every day...no joke!)