24.04.18 — Journal

Kevin in Madrid

After I was up in the north (again) with Kevin just a couple of weeks ago, a mere four days later he found himself on a coach down to the capital, where we had a busy weekend of chilling in the city planned! Once he’d met me at the Erretres office on the Friday, we had a quick tour of the studio and then headed into the rather grey looking city centre.

A rather sad looking sky

Once we’d had some tacos at my favourite Mexican spot in the city, we headed through the centre and past the palace and cathedral, where we stopped for a while to sit down and take in the ambience of the evening. After listening to the harp and watching the sun slowly retreat by the royal palace, I whisked Kevin to watch the sun set from the Temple of Debod.

It was whilst wandering back from the temple that the rain suddenly began its attack, and we had to take refuge in a bus stop before braving he downpour and seeking shelter in a bar. A couple of beers later, we admitted that we were tired, and so headed back home for a good night of sleep before a busy Saturday!

Our explorations the next day began with a walk down the river near my flat, before hearing back to the centre and the cathedral, where we headed inside and gawked at the architecture for a good while. Once we were back outside in the rather sunnier weather, we headed to the commercial centre to make the most of the Saturday shopping hours.

Up to the heavens in the Catedral de la Almudena
A Madrid boulevard

Once we’d stocked up on fancy chocolate from Cacao Sampaka and toiletries from Lush, we headed to a spot Kevin had requested after a good experience during a previous visit: El Mercado de San Ildefonso. At this street food bazaar we grabbed some Guinness and a delicious plate of Korean fried chicken, before heading down into the writer’s district, where I knew Kevin would be in his element as a student of all things literary.

Korean chicken and Irish beer

A Korean lunch with an Irish beer: a culture clash we were happy to let happen.

That evening, and after returning home through the indoor tropical gardens in Atocha train station, we headed into the La Latina area of the city for a drink. After putting the world to rights over a cheeky gin and tonic, we headed back home to prepare for a busy Sunday – it may be a day of rest, but I always say that there is no rest for the wicked!

Sunday kicked off in traditional Madrid fashion: with an amble up the huge street market of El Rastro. Once Kevin had picked up some goodies and we’d cleared the hoards of people, we had some lunch in Plaza Mayor before hopping on the metro for a museum which I’d discovered for the first time only when my parents visited a mere few weeks ago.

Our strategically timed visit was to ensure that we got into the Museo Cerralbo for free, and we did – just about! Arriving less than an hour before close, we still managed to tour the entire building, and the place managed to leave Kevin speechless more than once along the way.

A pretty façade

Once we’d had a coffee for some energy, we headed into the district of Malasaña, where there was an event called Pinta Malasaña (literally “paint Malsaña”) and the name says it all. Dozens of artists had taken the streets, each one creating unique pieces on the very walls and shutters of the neighbourhood.

To soak in the buzz, we grabbed some beers and wandered the streets, stopping to watch the artists at work or sit and chat about whatever was on our minds. Once we’d finished our drinks and traversed the neighbourhood, we headed back to my flat for a rest, and I booked a table at one of my favourite places to eat for later in the evening.

After freshening, we headed to the city centre to Heidi and Loredana’s flat, where we were joined also by Kevin and Napo. After all the introductions and all that nonsense, we headed back to the streets and to Goiko Grill for some of the best burgers in the city.

The Goiko Grill Gang

There we had amazing food and even better conversation, and I felt really lucky to be surrounded by a group of such lovely people – it somehow felt like an early birthday treat!

All too soon we were back in my flat, getting ready to head out for Kevin’s final day in the city. As short as the Monday may have been, I had a pretty packed schedule lined up, and so soon I had marched Kevin into the city and up to the roof terrace of Círculo de Bellas Artes. This is my favourite spot for catching 360° over the sprawling city, and we made sure to make the most of the 4€ entry fee by taking in the sun and the views and having yet another of our lengthy chats.

Looking to Madrid's mountains

Once we were back at street level we headed into Retiro park, having a quick wander around some of the most pretty sights, before grabbing some lunch and heading to one of my favourite shopping spots in Madrid: Dealz.

Now, I should preface this by telling you all that me and Kevin met whilst he was studying for a year in Leeds, so he’s no stranger to British culture. We were both equally excited to be visiting Dealz, seeing as it is basically Poundland, complete with the selection of British snacks and sweets which I so fondly miss from time to time. Napo had tagged along too, but as a stranger to life in England, he didn’t seem quite as thrilled as me and Kevin were to be there…

The plaza in Chueca

After this we made one quick last venture into Lavapiés, where we sat on a street terrace and had a round of vermut, all before we had to take Kevin up to the bus station to catch his coach back to Oviedo. Once he was on his way back up north, me and Napo headed into Chueca for a drink in the plaza, making the most of the sun which had finally broken through the weekend’s clouds!

A refreshing pit stop

As much as I enjoy my weekend retreats in the gorgeous lands of Asturias, I have to say it was an absolute pleasure to have Kevin down in the bustling capital for the long weekend. I can only hope that he had as good a time being dragged around Madrid as I did actually doing said dragging!

It goes without saying then that the two of us are already coordinating my next trip to the north, but for now I shall have to leave the post there, as I have plenty more to share but it’ll have to wait for the next update!

Ido apologise for the delays as of recent, but I am currently without WiFi in my flat due to some technical problem. Have no doubt however that I’m trying every crafty technique possible to keep you all updated – I have even had to publish this from my iPad at work. Sneaky!