Spanish Idioms With Spanish Cities (II)

¡Hola a todos!

Today I’m writing about the second part of Spanish idioms using Spanish locations. You can read the first part here if you didn’t!

  • Estar a la luna de Valencia / Quedarse a la luna de Valencia

Literally, it is “to be under Valencia’s moon”. And you may think: “but the moon is the same everywhere in the world”. Yes, but this idiom’s origin is about Valencia. Long time ago, Valencia was surrounded by a wall whose gates were shut all night long. People who didn’t reach the gates before they were closed, had to stay out of the city during the night, under the moonlight.

About its use, you may guess. Somebody who left behind or, according to our dictionary (RAE), to talk about the failed hopes (like sleeping in your bed instead of the ground out of the walls).




  • Barcelona es buena si la bolsa suena

This is not an idiom itself, but it can work too. If we translate it into English, would be something like “Barcelona is good if your bag sounds”. Sounds like what? Well, we’re talking about money. Currently, it makes reference to the high prices you can find in Barcelona (although we all know there both are expensive and cheap deals everywhere).

It is said that, originally, this expression was about the businesses in Barcelona, where Italian people went trying to make big deals and said that it was a good place if you made it, that is, if you got the money in your bag.


  • De Madrid al cielo

This is also not an idiom, but a very popular expression that describes Madrid: “From Madrid to the sky”. But its origin is very confusing.

Some people say its due to the remodeling plan that Carlos III carried out in the city. Other people say there is a house in Garabitas’ Hill where souls of deceased people born in Madrid gather and ascend to the sky.

But the most reliable is the one related to Luis Quiñones de Benavente, a writer from the Spanish Golden Age. He wrote the following words in one of his dramas:

“Pues el inverno y el verano,

En Madrid solo son buenos,

Desde la cuna a Madrid,

Y desde Madrid al cielo.”




  • Tomar las de Villadiego

Villadiego is a town located in Burgos, west of Spain. We say “to take the Villadiego ones” when running away from something.

Its origin is as follows. When Jewish were persecuted in Spain, Fernando III ordered that no Jewish in Villadiego could be caught. Then, when they felt threatened, they went to Villadiego seeking protection. Once there, they had to wear yellow tights as a sign of the King’s protection.

  • Salir de Málaga y meterse en Malagón

“Leave Málaga and get into Malagón”. Its literally meaning makes sense if you’re going for a trip from the Southern city to the town located in Ciudad Real, middle area of Spain. As an idiom, it has a different meaning: escaping from a bad situation and get into a worse one.

About its origin, I’m afraid to say that there are no kings involved here, it’s just a pun. As you may know, “mala” means “bad” (female form), hence using Málaga. The second part is about the augmentative suffix. We add “-ón” to some words to make them look bigger, for example: cabeza – cabezón (head – big head). So if we put this suffix into Málaga, it turns Malagón (I’m not saying this is the origin of the town’s name!), and we can make reference to the small problem (Málaga) and the bigger one (Malagón).




  • Son como los amantes de Teruel, tonta ella, tonto él

“They are like the Teruel lovers, she’s a fool, he’s a fool”. This is used to people who match really good because… well, they’re just silly. We use it due to the rhyme, but there is a story behind it.

To sum up, it’s a typical tragedy (but you can read the whole story here): a man loves a woman, the woman loves the man, but her dad doesn’t want her to marry him, so he married her to a wealthy man. Once, the man asked her to kiss him, but she didn’t want, as she was married. Suddenly, he died of pity, and so she did. Finally, they were buried together.


  • Poner pies en Polvorosa

“To put the foot in Polvorosa”. It is an expression that we use when somebody runs away (literally or not) from a problem. The popular origin of the idiom is about the dust (“polvo”) that raises when we run on a dirt road.

But there is also a historic theory. When Alfonso III noticed the danger about the Moorish people conquering his Kingdom, he took the troops to Polvorosa (in Palencia) to settle the battle. Once there, they obtained the victory because the Moorish run away completely terrified… due to a moon eclipse that frightened them.



  • Pa’lante como los de Alicante

This is only about the rhyme. Alicante is a Southern city in Spain, a coast one, and the whole sentence means “Forward like those from Alicante”. It is used when you have to go straight or go ahead with a plan.

It is a very colloquial sentence, and we can see that on the contraction. The correct way should be “para adelante”, but we cut it and say “pa’lante”. This is a very common linguistic resource in Southern Spain: shorter words in order to speak faster.


That’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed reading these idioms as much as I enjoyed putting them together on this post. If you liked it, please let me know, and if you want more, I could write about more idioms with cities… from other parts of the world!

If you have any question about this, don’t hesitate to ask me. Remember that you can study Spanish online with me, you can ask for a 30 minutes free trial lesson, where we will get to know each other and start your Spanish adventure!

Also remember to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, where I publish daily contents.

Thank you! 😊

Spanish idioms with Spanish cities


Today I want to introduce you some Spanish places. Not their history or culture, but some expressions we say using Spanish cities or villages.


El que se fue a Sevilla perdió su silla

If we translate it literally, it means “the one who went to Seville lost his chair”. We use it when you sit on somebody’s seat when he stands up. If that person asks you to stand up because he was sitting there, you just say that he lost it!

El que se fue a León perdió su sillón

This one is very similar to the previous one, and sometimes we use them together. Its translation would be “The one who went to León lost his armchair”.

(These two would get Sheldon Cooper crazy.)

Irse por los cerros de Úbeda

“Go through Úbeda’s hills”. Úbeda is a village located in Jaén, in South Spain. It is often used when, telling a story, instead of going to the point, the teller starts saying many useless details.

It seems that, before an important battle, a High Command of the King Fernando III disappeared and nobody knew where he was. When he finally showed up, he said that he was lost in Úbeda’s hills.

Estar entre Pinto y Valdemoro

This is a very… weird one. Pinto and Valdemoro are two towns located in Madrid, and we use it to express indecision. Why so? Well, there are several theories about its origin, but I’ll explain my favorite one: the drunk.

It is said that, in ancient times, Pinto and Valdemoro were separated by a stream. There was a drunk who liked to jump over the stream saying “now I’m in Pinto, now in Valdemoro, and now back to Pinto!”. Once, he fell into the stream and said “now I’m between Pinto and Valdemoro!”.

Ancha es Castilla

“Castilla is wide”. Castilla is a region in the middle of Spain, and it’s quite big. We use this idiom when we mean to act deliberately. But, why Castilla and not any other region?

In Reconquest era, Castilla was a place where few people lived, so it was the perfect place to start a business you wanted nobody knew about. Of course, we are talking about both legal and illegal businesses.



No, this is not an idiom, but it is a very important part of Spanish jokes. Lepe is a town in Huelva, South Spain, that is often used to make jokes based on puns and stupid people. And no, I’m not saying these people are idiots, it’s just our language! The jokes are similar to the Polish jokes to the people from the USA. Something like:

Why do people from Lepe have a ketchup packet on the ear? To listen salsa.

Estar en Babia

It means “to be in Babia”. But what does it really mean “estar en Babia”? Well, if somebody tells you “estás en Babia”, you need to pay more attention, basically. We use this idiom to express that someone is thinking on a different thing than he should be. Like when you’re in a meeting but you’re not paying attention because you’re thinking about the pizza you’re going to have for dinner.

This expression is also due to our ancient kings. Babia is a Spanish region, located in León, where the kings used to stay for holidays. When somebody would go to the Palace to consult the King during his vocational period, they said: “El rey está en Babia”, so people knew he wouldn’t face his real responsibilities.


No se ganó Zamora en una hora

Why do we say “Zamora wasn’t won in one hour”? Well, its meaning is very easy to guess: you will not get difficult things solved in a short time, but you’ll need long time to get results.

The point about using Zamora here is that, in the year 1072, the city was besieged for seven months by Sancho II de Castilla, who wanted to conquer the city from his own sister. The end? Sancho II was murdered and didn’t get Zamora.

We still have more idioms using Spanish locations, so if you’ve liked it, please go here and read the second part!

Thank you. 😊

Welcome to my blog!


I want my first post to be about me so you can get to know me better.

Before turning 22, I lived in three different cities in Spain: Madrid, Seville and Cordoba. After that, I spent one year in Beijing and I’m currently living in Nairobi.

My first experiences as a teacher were while studying my University Degree, teaching English to teenagers who needed to improve their English skills. I did it just for getting some money, but little by little I realized that I really liked it. I didn’t think about that like “oh, no, it’s time to work”. And I say this because my first intention wasn’t to be a teacher, but a translator.

After getting my degree, I came back to Seville and I started teaching private lessons, and at the same time I worked for a Languages Training School. Then, I decided to specialize in Teaching and I took an Advanced University Course for Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language.

During the 2016’s summer, the destiny wanted me to move to Beijing, where I was teaching Spanish and English to Chinese students for 10 months. Cultural and linguistic differences made an amazing experience from it. I met teachers coming from many countries, taught excited students who wanted to learn Spanish and, of course, discovered  incredible places.

After this experience in China, I moved to Nairobi (Kenya), where I reside now. Because of this change, I decided to start teaching online so I could teach those students willing to follow me around the world while learning Spanish.

I consider myself as a dynamic and patient teacher, and there is nothing I could feel prouder of than seeing how my students improve their Spanish thanks to my lessons and advices; I think that’s one of the best feelings ever.