Newsletter May 2013
Popular destinations in Spain

Typical Spanish

The rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona

As Spain’s premier league soccer season draws to a close this month, we can’t avoid talking about one of Spanish soccer’s greatest rivalries: that of Real Madrid Club de Fútbol and Fútbol Club Barcelona (Barça). Even if you don’t live in Spain, you’ve probably at least heard of it, as passions always run high whenever the two teams match up. Spaniards refer to these matches by the simple yet effective name of "el Clásico".

The long standing sporting feud doesn’t only involve the teams; fans have also spent a lifetime locked in opposition. Few however have delved into history in search of the origin of this "dispute".

As with many traditions, some theories take on the form of popular legend. One of these takes us back to an age when Felipe II was establishing the Kingdom of Madrid, ignoring the opinion of advisers who believed the royal court should be moved to Barcelona. The disappointment of the Catalans, answered by the pride of the madrileños (residents of Madrid) mixed into a powder keg of emotions that would end up exploding on and around the soccer field, the closest thing to a battle in times peace.


Other theories date the rivalry back to the Spanish civil war. Just after war erupted, Franquistas executed the president of Barça Josep Sunyol while Real Madrid’s most emblematic president Santiago Bernabéu fought in the war on the side of Franco sympathizers. Barnabéu had nothing to do with Sunyol’s execution... but it’s clear... the two Spains will always be present.

Another one of Spain’s great passions, politics, makes an appearance in a different theory: in 1918, Barça apparently supported a campaign favoring Catalan independence from the rest of Spain, a move that seems to have ruffled the royal court in Madrid. The name of the Madrid team includes the word "real" (Spanish for "royal"), and it’s based in the country’s capital city, factors that may have attracted supporters of the monarchy and a unified Spain to join the team’s fan base as a way of expressing their political views. The problem with this theory lies in the fact that the team name adopted the word real in the 1920’s.

Still others believe that the rivalry is a more recent phenomenon with a more sports-related explanation. In 1953, an Argentine player named Alfredo Di Stéfano was on the payroll of two different teams: Argentina’s River Plate and Bogota, Colombia’s Millonarios. Alfredo had immigrated to Colombia during a soccer strike and could remain on both team rosters. It seems that Barça negotiated to draft the player from River, while Madrid entered negotiations with the Millonarios. In a diplomatic decision made by the Spanish Soccer Federation, it was decided that Di Stéfano would play with a different team each year. Barça however would not accept the proposed arrangement and gave up on negotiations. Real Madrid kept the player, who would go on to become a Madrid sporting legend. The Catalan team would never forget the missed opportunity.

barcelona madrid
Di Stefano

The battle to be Spain’s best team likely began in 1916. During an "el clásico" match of the Copa de España tournament (today’s Copa del rey, Spanish for King’s cup), Barcelona beat Madrid in the first leg and Madrid beat Barcelona in the return leg. In those days, wins were counted but not points, so the team that would advance had to be decided in another game after overtime still left the two in a draw. Another match was played, during which Barça players complained that a Madrid goal was invalid as it was scored from an off-sides position. An outraged Barça abandoned the field 7 minutes before game’s end with Madrid winning. From this point on, the match up would always stir up controversy and legends.

This may be why Madrid-Barça inspires so much passion: the rivalry encompasses sports, politics, social issues and even history. More than just a game, it’s a matter of honor.

Featured City

Madrid: Book fair

One of the most fundamental events concerning cultural life in Spain’s capital is La Feria del Libro (the book fair), held each year in the natural setting of Retiro Park. Many madrileños get out and take spring time walks around the famous park to find a little literary culture, while others go look at books to take walks around the park.


But it wasn’t always like this. On the first year of the fair (1933), it took place on the Paseo de Recoletos (where today’s Old Book Fair is held), and not in May but in April. After the Civil War, in 1944, it started being held in May by the name of Feria Nacional del Libro (National Book Fair), when it started taking place in different parts of Spain. It wasn’t until 1967 that the fair would be permanently established in Madrid, and in Retiro Park. In 1982, it took its current name: Feria del Libro de Madrid.

Few things have changed since: the fair sits on the so-called paseo de coches, a large walkway flanked on either side by booths. The location gives visitors the chance to comfortably reach the Puerta de la Reina Mercedes (Queen Mercedes’ Gate), close to the Ibiza metro station. From here, you don’t have to go through the length of the park to get to the event. We do recommend however, that once you’ve made your purchases, you explore the park and take in all its green splendor. Although it’s true (why try to fool ourselves) that a visit to the Feria del Libro can easily fill an entire afternoon.

Book fair

The event features over three hundred book booths representing publishing houses and book shops. There are also tents under which exhibits, presentations and even lectures are offered and terraces for those wanting to relax and enjoy a refreshment. Here’s a secret: if you want to give your feet break without having to pay for a drink, you can slip through and take a seat on one of the benches hidden behind the booths. One more tip: bring a bottle of water and a little chocolate with you from home, the vending machines are pretty spendy.

We understand that it’s not always so easy to make it, but the best times to go are Monday through Friday (from 11 am to 2 pm and from 6 pm to 9:30 pm). It gets crowded on weekends, but if it’s the only time you can go, it’s best to arrive early in the morning or in the afternoon (on weekends, hours are extended from 11 am to 3 pm and from 5 pm to 9:30 pm).

Madrid Book fair
Book fair Madrid

The fair’s most important events are undoubtedly the book signings. The lines of people waiting in front of booths for their favorite books to be signed by famous authors can seem unending, but if you want an autographed edition of a book, you’re going to have to stick it out. We do recommend that before jumping in line, you find out first which booth your favorite author will be in (you can consult the fair’s web page).

And one more thing! Be careful, many visitors have confused an author with the booth’s book seller. It doesn’t bother the writers, but you never know what character you could end up inspiring for future novels, or which chapter of a book of memoires you may end up appearing in.

Famous Person

Santiago Bernabéu y Joan Gamper

The two soccer clubs whose legendary rivalry provided this month’s newsletter topic have had their share of charismatic and problematic presidents, but the two most memorable are without a doubt Joan Gamper for Barça fans, and Santiago Bernabéu for Madrid fans.

We’ll begin by order of birth: Joan Gamper entered the world on November 22, 1877 in Wintenthur. Yes, Barça’s most emblematic president and team founder was born in Switzerland.

Hans’ family (the name Joan used before moving to Spain) settled in Zurich when he was a boy, and it was in this city that he discovered his love of sports. He began his athletic career as a cyclist, which he had to give up for job reasons, and later as a soccer player, a sport in which he excelled, even becoming one of Switzerland’s best players. Most notable is his contribution to F.C. Basel. He even founded one Switzerland’s most famous teams FC Zurich.

Stadium Joan

In 1897, he moved to Lyon, where he tried his hand at rugby. Although he proved himself quite capable in the sport, soccer was still his game, which he clearly demonstrated when he moved to Barcelona and encouraged the city’s Swiss community to play the sport. Here he began to formulate the idea of creating a club that would represent the Catalan capital all over Spain.

In 1899 he decided to go for it, joining 12 friends to found F.C. Barcelona in a gym. He decided to make Barça’s colors the same as Basel’s, blue and red, possibly due to the coincidence that the two teams also shared the same initials.

Of course Gamper would be one of the team’s first players, playing from 1901 to 1903, during which time he helped clinch Barça’s first title, the Copa Macaya (today’s Copa Cataluña), and played in the finals of the first Copa del rey tournament.

We don’t know much more about his life until 1908, the year in which he took on the presidency of Barça for the first time (he would later serve as team pres. in 1910, 1917, 1921 and 1924). His leadership garnered 11 Catalan championships, 6 Copas del rey and 4 Copa de los Pirineos.

Nou camp

His life of triumphs was sadly cut short in 1925. As a fervent Catalan nationalist, he was exiled when Miguel Primo de Rivera rose to power in Spain as dictator. Gamper later returned to the city of Barcelona under the condition that he would have no relationship with the club that he helped found. Depression caused by the situation, along with illness that brought about his physical deterioration, lead to his suicide in 1930. After a heavily attended service, the player would become a legend, not only for his team, but also for the sport of soccer around the world.

Moving on to the greatest president of the rival squad, Santiago Bernabéu was born in Montealegre del Castillo (Albacete) in 1895. At age 5, his family moved to Madrid and placed him in the school Colegio de los Agustinos, in the town of Escorial. Winters in Madrid can be harsh, so the young Santiago stayed warm on the playground by playing soccer.

He quickly discovered that he was pretty good at this new sport imported from England. His favorite position was goal keeper, but his brother Antonio saw a great future for him as a forward. While Santiago was still in high school, Antonio offered him a spot on the modest team he’d founded with a few friends called Madrid C.F. ("Real Madrid" beginning in 1920).

Bernabéu continued playing and studying after high school pursuing a degree in law. Around this time, he realized his true calling as an athlete. His style was tough and effective, and during 14 years of play, he helped his team win the 1917 Copa del rey. He earned a spot on the Spanish national team against Portugal, but unfortunately remained on the bench the entire game.

Santiago Bernabéu

He officially retired from competition in 1927, but continued on with the team as an assistant to the coach. In 1929, he became the secretary of the club’s board of directors, a post he held until 1935, the year in which he opposed the naming of the republican politician Rafael Sánchez Guerra as president of the Madrid soccer team (the word "Real was removed from the name during the time of the second Republic").

During the Civil War, given his sympathy for the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights (a conservative leaning political party), he enrolled in the Francoist army where reached the rank of corporal.

After the war, he left a Real Madrid in poor shape, without players, a social center, nor a stadium. Santiago had to juggle his duties on the board of directors with a job as a state worker with the department of revenue. As they say in Spain "no hay mal que por bien no venga" (roughly equivalent to "April showers bring May flowers"), the experience he gained with the department helped him straighten out the team’s financial issues. In 1943, he was named president.

He made outfitting the team with a new and modern stadium one of the goals of his presidency (the old one was left destroyed after the war). The new Chamartín Stadium was completed in 1947, although it was progressively amplified. In 1955, an assembly decided to name the field after the president that had made its construction possible. Today, the "Santiago Bernabéu" is one of the most famous playing pitches in the world.

Santiago Stadium
Stadium Santiago Bernabéu

Bernabéu continued on as president throughout the rest of his life. In fact, he still occupied the post when died of cancer in 1978. He may have left us, but he left a club behind that has become a part of history.

Spanish Recipe

Calamari sandwich vs. Catalan sausage sandwich

Each of these food specialties, one from Madrid and the other Catalonia, prove that fast food can also be quality food, as anyone that has tried both can attest to. Curiously, it’s one of the only things fans can all agree on. A madrileño would have no problem enjoying a bocadillo de butifarra and a barcelonés would be more than happy to have a bocadillo de calamares.

We’ll start with the latter. You may be wondering how something whose main ingredient is a sea animal could be traditional to a city with no sea. To find the answer, one must look back to an age when fish and other sea products began to be sent to inland areas, most likely to maragatos. Upon arriving to its destination, in Madrid for example, it was fried or breaded so it would last longer. The same was done for squid which was served during lent, a time of the year when eating meat was not allowed.

Catalan sausage

In the beginning, the fried calamari was served in rolled up newspaper until somebody (we don’t know who) thought to put it on bread. The reasons? This way, consumers wouldn’t have to worry about picking out the bones, they wouldn’t have to get their fingers sticky from the oil, and the bread would fill them up and satisfy their appetites better. Needless to say, the invention was a success, and ever since, Madrid’s bars have all offered the juicy sandwich. But consider this: you can also make it at home. You just have to take a few rings or strips of squid, dip them in egg mixed with milk, fry them, let them sit for a minute on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, and proceed to place them in the bread. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

As for the bocadillo de butifarra, let’s just say that it’s an institution not only in Barcelona but in all of Catalonia. Made up of pork, salt and spices, Butifarra is Catalonia’s most representative type of sausage.

It’s much more than just a simple sandwich. First off, because you’ve got to select the right butifarra: it must be white, a type that’s already cooked, which lets you eat it without having to cook it. Secondly, the bread has to be properly treated. You’ll have to cut it open and rub the inside with a ripe tomato, then you add a little salt and oil. This last part is something of an art, because you can’t leave the bread too dry but you don’t want to get it too wet either, it should be a bit salty, but not so much so that it drowns out the rest of the ingredients, and the oil should add a smooth texture without becoming a sticky mess. Not everyone can put together a sandwich like this.

Madrileño - sandwich

The good thing about these two classics is that you can prepare them in practically any size: from the megabocadillo to be shared among various eaters, to the mini "tapa" size variety. These sandwiches are the perfect snack to enjoy while watching a Madrid-Barça game.

Dicho popular

"That’s how soccer is"

This expression is quite modern, it hasn’t even been around for more than 30 years, but it’s used extensively around Spain. Spanish soccer lovers and even indifferent observers from Spain, use it to express the notion that sometimes fans must accept game outcomes and be patient with destiny.

Considering that we’re in the information age, and that any publicly made statement is picked up by the media, archived and even interpreted, you could say that the origin of the expression must be recorded in some way. We don’t know however who said "el fútbol es así" for the first time, or which game that person was talking about.

Soccer game
child Soccer game

Some accredit the popular adage to Luís Aragonés during his many years as coach of Atlético de Madrid. Known as "the wise man of Hortaleza" (even though many from that Madrid district say that the real wise man is one of his brothers) and famous for his sharp and critical statements, it’s logical to think that Aragonés could have effortlessly uttered "el fútbol es así" after a soccer defeat. But we haven’t found any evidence, and if it exists, it must be pretty well hidden.

We have found that many soccer players have used the phrase as a response to an uncomfortable question after losing to a weaker team that they should have beat. It’s easy and direct, but it ended up turning into a cliché (the author of this article remembers watching a comedy show on TV that presented a montage of all the players, coaches and club presidents that had publicly used the expression throughout the week).

The expression has in fact become a maxim used by everybody – half jokingly and at the same time half seriously – to suggest that something has not turned out the way they’d hoped but that they’re being good sports about accepting the outcome.

In summary: an expression with uncertain origins brought to us by what’s clearly the most followed sport. This is our explanation, but if you find a better one that’s more documented, we’ll accept it. "El fútbol es así".


Spanish soccer terms

As we organized this list, we ran into a question: should we offer terms that can be used by international soccer fanatics, or should we provide more everyday use soccer terms? We ended up settling on a fair mix of both. We hope you don’t call foul on our move. Game on!

  • Alevín: the word originally meant a small baby fish, but in soccer it’s used to refer to the players of children’s leagues.
  • Banquillo: the bench, where players sit while not playing in the game. The word is also used as a metaphor to refer to the place where workers go when they’re still on a company’s payroll but they’re not working on any project
  • Caño: this usually means a tube that water passes through, but in the fast action world of soccer, it’s used to describe a play in which a player kicks the ball through an opponent’s legs to complete what’s called in Spanish an autopase (pass to oneself).
  • Chilena: here, this doesn’t mean "woman from Chile". It refers to a spectacular type of kick, which a player makes by flipping nearly upside down and practically hanging in the air to shoot the ball in the opposite direction.
  • Chutar: in the world of soccer, this means to kick the ball hard toward the goal to try and score. It also has a darker meaning: to inject oneself with drugs.
  • Driblar: synonymous with "regatear" (to dribble the ball to avoid having an opponent steal it). In fact it comes from the English word "dribble". In other contexts, it’s used to express that, before achieving a goal, one has had to overcome a series of obstacles.
  • Esférico: what’s the most used piece of equipment in soccer and is shaped like a sphere? Some may say that esférico is a fancy way of saying balón (ball). It’s used often, along with the word comodín, by commentators on sports programs to avoid repeating words like balón or pelota (ball).
  • Fuera de juego: Off sides, the name of the complicated rule according to which a goal is not valid if the player that scored it is closer to the opposite end line than is a penultimate opponent. We also refer to the rule when we find ourselves in a situation that is impossible to explain our way out of, as in "when my boss caught me on the beach after saying in the office that I was sick, I was left fuera de juego.
  • Gol: this word, used to call a goal in soccer, clearly comes from the English "goal". In the old days, it was also maliciously used when a couple got married because of an unplanned pregnancy.
  • fuera-de-juego
  • Moviola: sports commentators use this word to refer to replays shown on TV. Before television was computerized, it was recorded on a tape called a moviola, an interesting example of a technique taking its name from the device used to carry it out.
  • Pelota: another way of saying balón or esférico, this is the most traditional and generic form, as pelota is also used for basketball, tennis and even rugby. Pelota is also what we call the annoying employee who likes to flatter the boss in some way to earn his or her favor.
  • Penalti: a direct penalty kick in Spanish was also used to call those hurried weddings that took place as the consequence of an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Peña: Groups of fans that support the same club. Two examples: the Almogávers, a peña of Barça fans that takes its name from a historic group of warriors aligned with the kingdom of Aragón, and La tenación blanca (the white temptation), a peña of female admirers of Real Madrid.
  • Regatear: dribbling with the ball to avoid having it stolen by an opponent, also used to describe when a vender barters with a client over the price of a product.
  • Ultra: a word sadly used to refer to those fans that take a violent attitude at games, organizing fights instead of watching the on-pitch action. It’s also used to describe, in the political arena, a person with extreme views.
  • regate
  • Utillero: this word is supposed to refer to a person that handles the needs of the players (pass them towels, take care of their shoes… that kind of stuff). The problem is that the term is incorrectly used, the correct word is utilero, with one l.
  • Vaselina: a smooth, long kick that shoots the ball in a curve over the players heads and drops it between the goal posts. This type of shot at the goal takes its name from the grease derived from paraffin, used to treat skin irritations.

These are just a few commonly used soccer terms, but there are many more. The list keeps getting longer every year, and most of these words end up being used also for everyday activities or situations. It couldn’t be any other way in a country where soccer is the national sport.


We don’t usually talk about a word that’s not recognized by the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (The Royal Spanish Academy), but did you know that many times, a term enters the mainstream even though the academy hasn’t accepted it? The word orsay, orsái or orsai, is interesting in that it’s only used by a group of specialists.

To be clear, orsai is used by sports commentators and soccer specialists to mean - see our vocabulary section-, or "off sides" in English (see our vocabulary section). In fact, orsai is an English loan word that comes from the term "off sides".

Why don’t journalists and experts just use the more direct Spanish term? Firstly, because according to an old rule of thumb for journalists, it’s better to use synonyms for a word than repeat it over and over again in the same paragraph. Secondly, because on field action happens so fast that commentators prefer to use one word to describe plays instead of three, even if it is a deformation of an English term.

Yes, it is a little confusing, which is probably why this term hasn’t been picked up yet by most fans, who find the more straight forward fuera de juego more clear and even more audibly pleasing. A difficult to understand rule certainly doesn’t need a name that sounds bad too.

So we’re going to put this one in our list of words that you should know, but that you may not want to use. Don’t, for example, shout out in a bar full of soccer fans, "orsay!" You could end up looking like the class know-it-all.

Enfocamp web page is updated

Camp season is right around the corner. There’s just one month left until camp gates swing open, but we’re already celebrating something new; the Enfocamp web page has been remodeled.

Enfocamp web
Summer Camps

The goal of renewing the page was to be clearer and offer our content faster and more efficiently. Our new, more accessible design, maintains our philosophy: to offer our students the best courses and an unforgettable experience, no matter which camp destination they sign up for.

While making changes, we kept all of our users in mind: from students that hope to find out all about the different activities put on at each camp, to parents that want to quickly learn what each destination offers during a short break at work… and still have time to calmly enjoy their coffee!

In just a few clicks, you can access complete and detailed information from any section. You can also download our catalog (pdf) for free, and you can even fill out our registration form online and email it without having to print it out.

The qualities of our new design perfectly match those of our camps: straight forward places that offer great service and the chance to feel at ease.

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