15.08.21 — Journal

Cami & Kevin in Madrid

I pick things up here where we left off in my last post, when Kevin, Cami, and I were headed for a couple of days in Madrid after our big Asturian reunion in Oviedo! After having such good fun canoeing down the River Sella and eating the delicious food that Asturias has to offer, I was somewhat apprehensive to ensure that Cami and Kevin had a good time in Madrid, but we sure packed plenty in…

After another ridiculously short flight from Oviedo to the capital, the three of us hopped on what was supposed to be a direct train line to my neighbourhood to head out early for some drinks and food at my favourite local bar. As my blatant foreshadowing revealed, however, this was not to be the case, and we wound up changing trains twice in order to get to my house.

Once at base the three of us left our bags, had a quick freshen up, and then headed down to Bar El Ferrocarril to have a few cheeky drinks and enjoy some of the best (according to me) huevos rotos (chips topped with fried eggs and cured ham) in Madrid. Once we were merrily full, I suggested we grab some churros for dessert, and so we headed off towards the river to pick up a fresh bag.

Disaster struck, though, when the churrería that I was hoping to go to turned out to be closed. As an alternative, I remembered that just fifteen minutes down the road there was an Italian ice cream parlour that I’d been meaning to visit, and so we headed down to try out some of the gelato that I’d previously seen people queuing out the door to get their hands on.

We spent a good while down by the river enjoying our ice cream, and then had to traipse back uphill and to my flat to rest before our first day of adventures: I had, of course, created a plan of what we could get up to, and we’d to be at Ojalá early in order to snag a table for brunch!

Alternative text.

At this iconic breakfast spot in Malasaña, the three of us devoured our delicious brunch, complete with all kinds of food, teas, coffees, and juices to keep us hydrated in the Madrid heat. It’s a place I’ve been taking people to since the first time moved to the city all those years ago, and it never disappoints!

We held a little photo shoot in the basement beach bar.

In order to digest a little, we then headed for a wander around the lovely streets of Malasaña, but we soon found ourselves inside a bar and snacking and drinking once again. This time we landed in La Bodega de la Ardosa, an iconic spot for a pincho de tortilla (slice of Spanish omelette) and a vermouth.

The tortilla and a cheeky drink went down splendidly in the vintage interior.

From there, we headed on towards Chueca, Madrid’s gay district, where we managed to grab a table in the central square to enjoy a cocktail – although mine was a mocktail thanks to those pesky antibiotics. We couldn’t stick around for too long, however, as I’d more things planned before lunch!

After paying the bill, the three of us then waltzed down through the city centre, passing through the typical tourist spots such as La Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and past the Royal Palace and Cathedral. This long walk in the midday heat had us ready and rearing for some drinks and a spot of lunch, and I’d booked a table at just the place…

The beach bar at Café del Rey, where I spent many a Thursday afternoon when Erretres was based in Calle Cadarso, was the chosen spot for our meal. We made good and proper use of the menú del día (daily set menu) and had a couple of drinks before heading off to our next spot, the lake, where I’d decided we could take a nap in the shade.

I did manage to get half an hour of shuteye whilst down there, but I then awoke with a heavy head and dry throat thanks to the oppressive heat of the Madrid summer. There was only one way to solve this, we decided, and sauntered down to a lakeside terrace to have yet another drink before heading home for a proper nap.

Once we’d recovered some energy we hopped back on the metro and made our way up to one of the best spots – in my humble opinion – to see the sunset: the Templo de Debod. We arrived just in time to catch the last few moments of daylight, and the sky put on a spectacular show of rays of light marking the sun’s swan song for the night.

Once the light had faded and we were in need of yet another thirst-quenching beverage, we found ourselves a spot of grass and rolled our the picnic blanket, grabbing some beers and opening the snacks we’d brought with us. I then let Sara know that we were around, and she joined us in our picnic for her reunion with Kevin after the same three years!

Our original plan had been to then head down to the Lavapiés district for a final few drinks before tottering home on foot, but we’d completely lost track of time and space, and so decided instead to have a few drinks and a bite to eat at a bar near the temple. We were welcomed in by a lovely bar owner, who allowed us to have some drinks at his bar whilst ordering food from the restaurant across the way.

Once closing time came around, the four of us hopped back on the metro and off home, where I had the idea to hold a little spa evening of pampering to unwind and relax after quite a hectic day out in the city. I dragged out the face masks, body scrubs, and other lotions and potions, and Kevin, Cami, and I settled down with some relaxing music to wind down before bed.

The next day had us back on the move, as Cami and Kevin had mentioned that they fancied a snoop around Uniqlo (where I buy all my clothes, I have simple tastes). After a quick gander, we then headed to Retiro on foot, stopping for a photo opportunity by the Puerta de Alcalá.

The flowers were almost as resplendent as Cami was in the summer sun.

We then grabbed ourselves some of the city bikes for the next adventure of the day. The first leg of our journey took us around Retiro, Madrid’s main park, and past all the many sights it has to offer. The park has just recently been named as Unesco World Heritage Site, and its gorgeous promenades and numerous beauty spots such as the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) make it evident as to why.

This still has to be one of my favourite sights in all of Madrid.

With everyone to be seen having been seen, we then headed onto the city streets on our bikes, whizzing downhill to the river for another stop at the Matadero for a few drinks and another quick snack before lunch. This didn’t go without it’s fair share of hiccups, however, as I had to change my bike as it was wobbling all over the shop and then we managed to get a little lost after crossing one of the iconic bridges over the river.

Never mind, though, as we were soon in a local Italian restaurant and tucking into delicious salads, pastas, and a delicious profiterole dessert. This left us very full and very sleepy, and so Cami and I headed up back to my flat to relax whilst Kevin nipped across the way to get his PCR done to travel back to the US a few days later.

After a nap at home to recover, we were once again back on a bike and headed up to Madrid’s second new Unesco World Heritage site: El Paseo del Prado. This one’s a little more difficult to define, as really it’s the name of a street, but the recognition takes into account the fabulous sites which can be found along the way, from amazing architecture to a selection of grand fountains to the world-renowned Prado Museum.

We headed along the route of the Paseo del Prado, turning around at Cibeles, another one of Madrid’s most beautiful sights. We then left our bikes and headed through the lovely Writer’s Quarter (El Barrio de las Letras) on foot. There we found a terrace and settled down for our last drinks to celebrate Kevin and Cami’s last evening in Madrid.

The streets of the Writer’s Quarter were bathed in the evening sun as we explored.

With our drinks finished, the three of us then headed back home, where we ordered some Chinese food and watched a couple of episodes of Derry Girls before an early night – Kevin and Cami were up in the early hours in order to catch their flights: Kevin back up to Asturias for his last couple of days in Spain, and Cami back home to Tenerife.

The emotional farewell the following morning was made somewhat easier by the state of the three of us – we were way too tired to know exactly what was going on! I saw Kevin and Cami off with a big hug, promising that I’d soon be over to Tenerife and that I’d try to get into the US to see Kevin just as soon as they accept travel from the EU. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

As mentioned in my last post, it was an absolute blast to be reunited with Kevin and Cami once more, and I just hope that the world starts pulling itself together soon so that we don’t have to wait three more years before we’re all back together for some more raucous mischief!