12.09.18 — Journal

Ellie & Johann Visit

As I hinted at in my last post, last weekend saw Ellie and her boyfriend Johann land in Madrid Airport for a four-day visit! Thursday morning kicked off with my trip to pick them up, and after dumping their stuff off at my flat, we got straight to exploring in the city centre.

After a drink and a little slice of pizza on a roof terrace, we set off to explore other areas of the city, but soon wound up surrendering to our exhaustion and headed home for a nap. Once we’d recovered, we headed out for Vietnamese bao and watched the sun set over the west of the city, but along the way I didn’t manage to bag a single photo worth including in the blog – we were too busy stuffing our faces!

Friday began with a wander through the Atocha train station and its indoor gardens, before heading up for lunch at Casa Dani in the north of the city. Once we’d subjected Ellie to her first espresso shot and a rather oily roasted pepper, we headed down to the river in the south of the city and stopped for a drink and more chatting at the Matadero.

Atocha gardens
The station designed by Eiffel

After a trip to Mercadona (a low-cost supermarket and my second home) for supplies for a picnic dinner, we headed to Retiro Park and hired a set of bikes for a relaxing couple of hours riding around the grounds. We indulged in a delicious meal of tomate rallado (basically grated tomato) on bread, with a bit of aioli and basil to add our own flair to the Spanish classic, all before cycling around the huge park.

Ellie and Johann cycle through Retiro

Ellie and Johann particularly enjoyed cycling around Retiro.

Once we’d worn ourselves out and dropped the bikes back off, we headed for a nice spot to see the sun set for the evening – but the Madrid weather had other ideas! As we wandered through a big plaza in the city centre, the heavens suddenly opened and the rain began to relentlessly pound the city with no sign of letting off!

After a while seeking refuge in an archway of the Central Bank of Spain, we decided it was about time to actually try to make something of the wet evening, and ran for the safety of the Metro. During the 30 seconds we were exposed to the elements the rain somehow managed to drench us to the skin, so we headed to a stop which I knew led straight to a shopping centre – no outside walking required!

We arrived to the shopping centre in question, however, to skies which had somehow cleared in the 20 short minutes we’d been underground. Instead of faffing around inside, we headed back up to the Temple of Debod to watch the sunset from there yet again, grabbing a beer for the spectacle.

Heading up to Debod

Saturday morning began with bad news: more rain. Undeterred, we grabbed the Metro to the city centre and managed to dash to a lovely café for some breakfast and coffee before the real downpour began. A trip to the huge Primark shop in the centre then ensued, before we returned to the trendy Malasaña district for lunch at a place my mum had told Ellie about after we stopped there for lunch during her visit: Ojalá.

Me and Ellie in Ojalá
The food arrives

The weather during their visit didn’t cooperate, but we managed.

Puddles in Malasaña

After a few post-lunch drinks in 100 Montaditos, which had by now become Ellie and Johann’s favourite haunt, we headed to the south and the La Latina district, where we wound up at Sala Equis, an abandoned adult film cinema turned trendy hangout spot. After yet more drinks there, we headed to the city centre for a delicious tea of burgers and patatas bravas (one of Ellie’s favourite dishes) at Bacoa.

Heading into Sala Equis
Ellie and Johann at Bacoa

Sunday came around and suddenly it was their last day, but that didn’t mean we had any plans of slowing down! After having adjusted our plans due to the dismal Saturday weather, our plan was to head up to the mountains outside Madrid and pay yet another visit to Manzanares El Real. A Metro journey, a bus ride, and a substantial walk later, we found ourselves up amongst the dramatic rock formations of the sierra.

Walking up the mountains
Posing in one of my favourite spots

After lunch amongst the picturesque scenery, we eventually wore tired and turned around. Back in Madrid there was no rest for the wicked once again, and we eventually made it up to the terrace which we wanted to visit on Friday night before the rain set in. It may just have been that those rains were a blessing in disguise, however, as the sky exploded with colour on the Sunday night and we were treated to some of the best views I’ve ever managed to capture of the city! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

The sky over the east of Madrid
A dramatic colour palette
A look towards Gran Vía
Another look westward

After further drinks and some delicious pizza down in Lavapiés, we had to head back home for an early night, as I was to get back to work again on Monday morning. Before heading off to the office that morning, though, I had the drama of Ellie and Johann nearly missing the airport train in the morning – but we made it just in the nick of time!

I was genuinely upset to wave the two of them off, as it was a pleasure to have them in the city, and I can only hope that they had as much as a good time exploring as I did showing them around! Their departure marks a five-day countdown, however, as I’ll be down in Murcia just this coming weekend, where I’ll be reunited with my parents for another 48 hours – I’m sure I see more of my family here in Spain than when we lived in the same country!

Naturally I’ll be back with updates on my return from the south, but until them I’ll leave you with a beautiful little Spanish song that I’ve been enjoying recently.