31.07.20 — Journal

Evenings of Relaxation

July’s always a busy time when working in Spain, because many companies here withhold the excellent custom of shutting down and affording everyone a decent fortnight of summer holidays in August. While great, this does always cause somewhat of a hectic July, with everyone looking to wrap up projects before the summer holidays begin!

This means a lot of long working days, which means that one must make the very most of any free time, no matter how brief it may be. To this end, a couple of weeks ago Hugo, Jhosef, and I headed up to my office to make the most of the pool in the increasingly oppressive summer heat!

The swimming pool of my office with trees in the background.

We were quite at home in the lovely spaces of the office.

Jhosef sits on a chair in my office.

The three of us boarded a bus in the city centre, bags laden with snacks and drinks for the evening, and made our way up to Pozuelo, the neighbourhood of Madrid in which the office sits. After a quick tour of the many different spaces within the office, we slipped into our swimming gear and began a slow-paced evening of munching, swimming, and sharing all kinds of tales and quips.

Even though I was much more interested in the gin and tonics and various snacks on offer, I do enjoy the odd swim in the pool, and so I instructed Hugo to take some photos of me whilst I did so. That ended up with a rather happy accident, as he managed to hit the shutter button just as I was emerging and the surface tension of the water still hadn’t given way. It’s a horrific photo of me, but I find it quite funny and interesting!

Surface tension of the water above my head.
An up-close shot of vegetation.
The sun shines through an ivy covered tree and house.

Once the sun began to set, the evening air became a little too cool, and so we sat out the rest of the evening on the roof terrace. There we enjoyed the last of our beers, watched the sun set, and shared a whole tub of ice cream as we chatted about life in Spain. The three of us are all immigrants from other countries, and so it was interesting to hear other perspectives and compare shared experiences.

Back home, I had another busy week in store for me, with my free hours on an evening dedicated to naps, cooking, and throwing my own little “spa evenings”. These are evenings when I activate my new coloured lighting, pour myself a glass of wine, pop on a face mask, and lie on my sofa listening to a special playlist of relaxing music. It does make me feel like I’ve hit some kind of mid-life crisis, but it’s a little indulgence that serves well to de-stress after a long day!

My house is illuminated in blue.
My house is illuminated in blue.
My house is illuminated in blue.

Outside of my flat, my obsession with the city bikes continues, as I’ve been exploring further along the banks of the riverside park which runs through my neighbourhood and up along the west of the city centre. The other night I headed out at about 10pm, which is about the time the daytime heat has become somewhat bearable, and discovered some lovely nighttime scenes along the way, including the Príncipe Pío train station and some trees which were lit up with coloured lights.

A tree lit in a purple and yellow light.
The arch next to a train station in Madrid lit up at night.

Just last weekend, me and Jhosef arranged to meet up in the city centre, as he was keen on taking some long-exposure photos of the Catedral de la Almudena (Madrid’s Cathedral) and the motorways in the north of the city. As per usual, I cycled up to the cathedral, which lies just next door to the Royal Palace, and took a few casual photos of my own.

A skyscraper is seen illuminated by the evening sun, with the Royal Palace and a line of trees in the foreground.
Madrid's cathedral is seen in the evening light of the sunset.

We were lucky to be greeted by a gorgeous orange sunset over the palace and cathedral.

A panorama of a sunset over the royal palace and cathedral of Madrid.

As the sun set, Jhosef took plenty of lovely photos (check out his Instagram), but I was more wrapped up in taking in the view and munching on a bag of dried seaweed snacks that I’d brought along. We’d taken up position on a hillside street right next to the palace, which offered amazing views (as you can see from the photos) over the cathedral. This all reminded me of the first time I ever visited Madrid, when the cathedral was one of the highlights of my trip. It still amazes me to think that I now live a ten-minute bike ride away from the place.

I look over the sunset by the royal palace.
Madrid Cathedral lit up in the latter stages of a sunset.

Once the sun had properly set, we made our way towards the north of the city, deciding to spontaneously stop off once again at the Peruvian restaurant for a meal which included cow’s heart – which, after my initial doubts, was rather delicious! This happened to fall on the 28th of July, which it turns out is the day of Peru’s National Holiday, so I must say: ¡felices fiestas patrias Perú!

The ensuing trip to the northern business district of Madrid to take long-exposure shots of cars turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib, as we arrived way too late and there were hardly any cars circulating. We made the most of the evening, though, and walked back home after encountering a group of conspiracy theorists on the metro who were waffling on about coronavirus being a big government coverup and refusing to wear their masks. Now look, you can hold your own theories by all means, but for peat’s sake just wear a bloody mask. It’s not that hard.

Waffle on about your coronavirus conspiracy theories if you do so wish, just wear a bloody mask while you do.

With that little rant over, we arrive at this week, my last week before a few days in Tenerife and Murcia! The other night I headed down to the park for a few beers and to say goodbye to my friends for the time being, and of course one beer turned into three, meaning I arrived home rather tipsy and peckish. This led to me toasting some bread in my oven, tipsily admiring the red-hot heating elements in the dark…

The sunset over the park in Madrid.
The red-hot heating elements of my oven in the dark.

As mentioned, it’s now time for me to round up my blog post, close my laptop, and disconnect as much as possible for the next week as I head off to visit my friends Cami and Sam in the south of Tenerife. Naturally I’ll be taking my camera along, and so there’ll be plenty of photos and stories to come from the lovely island. I just hope I survive the heat!

Happy summer everybody!