07.01.24 — Journal

Christmas Lights Aplenty

Once I’d landed back in Madrid from an extended week in the UK, I had only one day to work before being launched into a bank holiday weekend full of plans. I began by spending my Friday off with Félix, a day which started with lunch at a lovely local spot that I’d never been to before.

Our brunch was as tasty as it was aesthetically pleasing.

After some salmon and a fresh fruit smoothie, we hopped on a bus to Retiro, Madrid’s main park. Our walk around the park led us past a cute little book swap spot that I’d never seen before. It was called the “People’s Library” and by the looks of it, it’s been part of Retiro for a good few years. What I thought was a modern concept has clearly been going on for quite a while!

At the book exchange I ran into some maths textbooks which took me right back to my childhood, being the exact same ones that we used when we were studying for our SATs. They were even in English, which was quite a coincidence!

Our walk also took us past the Palacio de Velázquez, an installation space owned by the Reina Sofía, one of Madrid’s main three art museums. In all my time in Madrid I’d never stepped foot in the place, so we headed in to see what was on show.

The exhibition seemed to explore space, colour, and materials with an interesting array of coloured materials draped from the high ceilings. The explanation of the concept behind it all read as a lot of fluff to me, but it was visually intriguing and it’s always nice to explore a new place.

A white ball on a yellow background.

Once out of the park, we headed for the Palacio de Cibeles, a landmark of the city that I’d first seen when I visited in 2015 but which I’d never set foot inside. I’d got wind of a free exhibition there that seemed right up my street, as it brought together two of my passions: lighting and typography.

Titled “No va a quedar nada de todo esto” (“None of all this will be left remaining”), the exhibition presented a series of old shop signage and paraphernalia, with a focus on the old illuminated and neon signs of yesteryear. It was a fabulous experience put together by Paco Graco, a collective dedicated to conserving the graphic heritage of Madrid.

It turns out that Cibeles is as lovely inside as it is out.

As fabulous as the exhibition was, I really didn’t need to go very far at all for a light show, albeit on a much smaller scale. With Christmas and the Spanish celebration of the Three Kings just around the corner, I’d spent a weekend filling up my flat with tinsel, baubles, and plenty of fairy lights. This way I could enjoy sitting in my living room despite the bitter cold that descends on Madrid during these winter months.

It was a bit much, but Christmas is the time for excess.

With my house all set up, two weekends of catching up with friends then followed. I had some lovely breakfasts and walks with Pedro, a delicious burger lunch with Hugo and Sergejs, and then a fun night at a Chinese hotpot with Sara, Rocío, and Irene. It was a lovely way to end the year here in the capital.

With Christmas now just around the corner, I’ll let you know all about that in my next post!