19.03.19 —  Journal

Summer Begins & Em Visits

After updating you all with what my flat looks like in my last blog post, I figured I should explore a bit of what’s been occurring outside of said flat in this one! I must warn you though, a lot of it has involved sitting outside, drinking beer, and enjoying the rising temperatures…

The Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid by night

A couple of weeks back I had Napo over for a catch up, and we eventually left my flat to head for the river in order to make the most of the suitably sunny Sunday. Just 10 minutes walk from my place sits Madrid Río, an elongated park constructed along the Manzanares River which runs through the city. After strolling through families and dog walkers – and dodging our way through a few close calls with people on roller skates – we sat ourselves down for a drink on one of the terraces.

Trees against a blue sky.
I look to the left.

After wandering back to my flat, during which the sky treated us to a gorgeous pink and purple sunset, said weekend ended and the working week began. It turned out to be a bit of a chilly and damp week, but that didn’t bother me too much, and it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of all those who turned out for the International Women’s Day march through the centre!

A baroque building lit by the orange sun is reflected in a puddle on a grey pavement.
A blue sky above a graffiti-covered stairwell lit by the setting sun.

The women’s march, I was happy to see, was a huge success – it warmed my heart to see people of all ages and walks of life take to the streets in union against inequality. I would have loved to have joined them, but I was instead held up for much longer than expected when returning a duvet to IKEA – typical. The only bit I managed to catch was the chaotically busy scenes in the main train station, Atocha, as I tried to drag my new duvet back home – needless to say I ended up walking it!

A train station full of people.

The proceeding weekend saw me wandering down to the river once again, only this time to check out the stalls and music of the Matadero Design Market. There, I met up with Bogar, Filip, and Napo, and we all caught up over some food truck grub and a couple of beers.

Another working week then passed, and the Friday I had been waiting for for weeks finally came around: the day of Em’s visit! After her early flight from London landed, I had her head to the centre, and we were soon reunited after (what I have just calculated by looking back over my blog posts) 10 months! The last time we saw each other now was when I visited London back in May last year. How time flies!

Anyway, we met in the Plaza de España before heading down to the Erretres office to have a snoop around, meet the team, and for Em to leave her bag. As I soon set back to work, she headed off to explore the royal palace and the surrounding area, but we were quickly reunited as I handily finish work at 3pm on Fridays.

After a slap-up menú del día lunch near the office, we hopped on a train to my flat and suddenly it was time: time to premiere the sofa bed!

As you can see from Sleeping Beauty above, the bed went up easily and wasn’t all too bad, but we’d other stuff to check out before it was time to head off for the night!

After checking out the city’s skyline from a rooftop terrace, we set off on a wander around the centre, stopping for churros, a trip to the market, a wander through Plaza Mayor, some sherry in a traditional bar, and eventually a delicious Venezuelan dinner at one of my favourite restaurants. Once back home, we sat chatting for even longer with a drink in hand – the amount we had to catch up on was pretty impressive – and eventually headed to bed.

The following morning began with a trip down to the Matadero to check out the design exhibition space and wander by the river. After working up an appetite during our walk along its banks (stopping for a beer along the way, naturally) we headed northwards and to Casa Dani, one of my favourite spots for a proper Spanish menú del día.

This pink neon crown was one of my favourite finds. I want one.

Once we’d dined on a delicious array of proper Madrid grub, we meandered southwards once more and through the various pretty streets of Chueca and Malasaña. As the sun reached its height in mid-afternoon, we were sure to stop for a cheeky vermouth and sangría on the rooftop terrace of Mercado de San Antón, making the most of the opportunity to take our coats off!

After some retail therapy and further drinks along the way, we wound up down at the Temple of Debod to watch the sun set over the west of the city. We then headed to a favourite taco spot of mine, but that turned out to be absolutely rammed, and so we made spontaneous alternative plans, heading through Lavapiés and eventually grabbing some sharing dishes in a little restaurant along the way.

The next morning all too quickly hailed Em’s last day in the city, but I had some relaxing Sunday plans to keep us moving. After a relaxed breakfast, we headed off on the bus to pick up a bike, and spent what remained of the morning cycling around the picturesque Parque del Retiro – much like what I dragged Ellie & Johanne and my dad into doing when they visited!

I must be getting good at this – I took this photo without falling off my bike!

We followed this with some lovely bao at one of my favourite spots – a firm favourite of our friend Luisa when she visited – and a cheeky ice cream for dessert. Wandering back down to Atocha and its curious indoor tropical gardens, we found ourselves heading back to my flat to pick up Em’s stuff.

We made it back up to the airport in good time – and it was a good job we did, as the check-in process Em had to complete when we got there didn’t make much sense to either of us! Once the hassle was over, I hugged Em off as she headed off through security, and I headed back to my flat alone once more.

Needless to say that I had a blast whilst I had Em with me in the city, and the past few weeks of improving weather have put a further spring in my step. I have to say it – I am really happy to be back here in Madrid once again!

That’s it for updates for now – I shall be back very soon with more from the streets of this dusty old city just as soon as I have the time!