21.11.21 — Journal

Danni Swings By

As I mentioned, my sister’s visit wasn’t the last in my run of visits, and a couple of weeks ago I welcomed one of my oldest friends, Danni, to the cool streets of the big city!

The adventures began a Friday after work, when I haded off to El Toril with some colleagues to celebrate one of their birthdays. There, we ordered some of their delicious burgers, and Danni arrived to join in the fun and have lunch with all of us!

The lunch ended with a lovely little surprise courtesy of Inés’ partner, who surprised her with some homemade dessert accompanied with a rowdy rendition of “Cumpleaños feliz” (the Spanish version of “Happy Birthday to You”). We washed our slice of cake down with a shot of crema de orujo, a cream liquor, and then grabbed a taxi back to my flat so that Danni could unpack what little stuff she’d brought with her.

Before heading out for an evening drink, Danni handed me a little gift she’d brought over with her: bonfire lollies! The Friday she’d arrived was the 5th of November – Bonfire Night in the UK – and so naturally we’d to have a bonfire lolly whilst I mounted a questionably safe mini bonfire in an old frying pan…

Ah yes, my indoor bonfire fuelled by gin and paper was very safe.

With the mini bonfire thoroughly extinguished, we headed up to a place that I’d been wanting to visit, but decided to wait to go with Danni as it’s right up her street: the rooftop terrace of the Hard Rock Hotel. Having booked in advance, we arrived only to be told that the terrace was closed due to rain and heavy winds; something which didn’t come as much of a surprise as we’d suffered the horrible weather the entire journey to the hotel!

All wasn’t lost, however, as we were given the option of having a fancy cocktail in the hotel’s restaurant or some drinks in the lobby bar. We opted for the latter so that we could enjoy the live music courtesy of a local band, and so spent a good few hours nattering and soaking up the Hard Rock atmosphere.

We begun the next day with a bit of culture, heading up to a free exhibition in the Fundación Telefonica titled Color. El conocimiento de lo invisible (“Colour: The Knowledge of the Invisible”). This included a lot of installations visualising the hidden workings of colour and light, and so it was right up my street.

After the exhibition, we went for a wander around the city centre, meandering our way down to Lavapiés to have a delicious pizza lunch at the same place I took my parents and my sister. For dessert, we sought out some frozen yoghurt, which we devoured before making a trip to Mercadona to grab some snacks for the rest of Danni’s holiday with me.

The homemade bread and aubergine, cheese, and tomato starter never fails.

That evening took us out back to Lavapiés, where we met up with Luis and some of his friends for drinks. We had a great laugh and a couple of very strong gin and tonics, all before winding up in the new Vurger King (a new vegetarian Burger King that’s opened here) where we stove off a hangover the next day with a burger and a huge Gold Oreo flavoured milkshake.

Keeping the hangover at bay was very important, as the next day we’d a day trip planned to Parque Warner, the Warner Bros. theme park that I’ve been meaning to visit after checking out the other park, Parque de Atracciones, a few months ago. The day begun with a bus journey down to one of Madrid’s main interchanges, where we picked up the theme park tickets and grabbed the bus down to the park.

After queuing up for a while, we were finally in the park, where we immediately set about visiting all of the biggest rides. The two of us are pretty geeky when it comes to roller coasters and theme parks, as evidenced by our frequent trips to our local park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, from many years ago!

One of our favourite rides was “Superman: Ride of Steel”, a lovely B&M standup coaster.

With the biggest rides ridden, we headed for Correcaminos Bip Bip, a coaster whose name had us giggling as it literally means “Roadrunner Beep Beep”. As the day wore on, the sky began to turn and it began to get cold, but we decided to head into a show called “Loca Academia de Policía” (“Crazy Police Academy”) after we came across a huge queue to get in.

The show turned out to be a big motorbike and supercar stunt show, involving general silliness between some pretty impressive stunts, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since my last visit to Florida a good few years back. The show was a blast, but when we left the arena, it was completely dark and getting pretty cold. We decided to get one last ride in on a boomerang coaster that we’d enjoyed, all before accidentally running into a nighttime parade, during which we had a little dance on the street as the parade floats passed by.

With half an hour to kill before the bus came to pick us up and take us back to the city, we grabbed a festive flavoured hot chocolate and headed out to wait for the bus, arriving home with a kebab in hand to settle down for a relaxed evening after such a long day.

The next day already signalled Danni’s last full day in Madrid, and so we headed out for breakfast at a local bar before heading down to the river to begin our day around the city. After grabbing a bike and having a little cycle around, we headed up to the city centre and carried on our cycling around Retiro, after which we headed to a local restaurant for a tapas-style lunch.

I think this is the most sport I’ve done for a while: a zip line and then a bike ride in the same day…

After lunch, we went for a coffee, dessert and a spot of shopping around Chueca, after which we mounted ourselves back on a bike and went for some sightseeing around the palace area of the city, stopping to watch the sunset from the hillside gardens next to a big church. After this, we headed back home, where we had a relaxed evening with a drink and a takeaway.

The next day, we heeded out for breakfast in the form of churros with chocolate at San Ginés, Madrid’s oldest churrería and a place Danni was keen to head back to. I hadn’t been since before the beginning of the pandemic, so it was lovely to head back and enjoy some delicious churros and porras (like a thicker version of a churro).

From there, we’d then to head to the nearby train station and grab the Cercanías up to the airport, where I waved goodbye to Danni after a fabulous few days spent with her around Madrid. It was great to see her again after almost a whole year, and I’m super excited to see her again when I’m back over in England for the Christmas holidays – which won’t be too long now!