20.05.18 — Journal

Manzanares El Real & Royal Wedding Shenanigans

So what’s been going on since I got back to Spain from my trip back to the UK I hear you all ask, and so I shall reveal the two most interesting things that have occurred since I got back. I’d make a big fanfare to reveal what these two things were, but I already gave the whole thing away in the title of the blog post, so let’s just get straight down to it…

First up was Tuesday’s trip to Manzanares El Real, a small town in the province of Madrid, but way outside of the city limits. As it was a bank holiday (which rather awkwardly happen here on Tuesdays), we jumped on a bus and headed out to see what I thought would just be a castle and adjoining lake.

Arriving in the little town
A nice sign

As we hopped off the bus, we were greeted by a cute little castle, but as we got closer we soon realised that it wasn’t yet open for visits. I’d quite liked the idea of having a snoop around the castle, but all was not lost as our friend Loredana said we could grab a free bus up to some natural pools to dip our toes in the water.

Once this little free “bus” rocked up, however, we soon realised that the four of us weren’t going to fit in it, and with the next one not scheduled for another hour we resigned to the fact that we were going to have to walk the 40 minute journey. We set off in good spirits, although I had declared that I wasn’t going to walk for more than 45 minutes as I was wearing jeans and lugging around a tote bag – not exactly the kind of gear one wants to go hiking in!

The winding road up to the pools

Once we’d started off a little game to keep us all occupied during the walk, I soon realised that I had been deceived – the walk was looking more like 90 minutes than the mere 40 I’d been told! We had a break for refuelling in the form of some teddy-shaped biscuits Megan had brought along, and then I reluctantly returned to the uphill climb towards this promised land.

The four of us on our wander
The valley comes into view

Thankfully though we soon crested the hill we’d been walking up, and it was then that the views and our destination came into view – and what a view it was! I took a few photos, but I was more concerned about picking up some speed on the downhill section, as me and Megan had an inkling that there might be some kind of bar down in the valley – and that meant a well deserved beer might be up for grabs.

Loredana faffing around
Smiling on the outside, dying on the inside
Descending further towards our destination

And lo and behold, look what we found! As we returned back to civilisation, we made a beeline for a bar and grabbed a beer to sit on the terrace and recover, taking in the surroundings and discussing where we were going to head to next. After chatting to one of the guys working there, we discovered that if we headed down to the river which ran alongside the bar and followed it downstream, we’d eventually be spat back out into the town of Manzanares El Real where we’d began our long walk.

This measly caña might have been the best beer I’ve ever had in my life.

A welcome refreshment break

Once we’d polished off our beers, we had another spot of relaxing down by the riverbank, taking time to do a spot of sunbathing, singing and even a few minutes of yoga. Slapping a bit of suncream on when some of us began turning a touch pink in the midday sun, we soon began our trek back downstream and into a series of stunning views.

Traversing the valley
Another compulsory selfie stop
More views along our hike

Before too long, and after another refreshment stop at a cool little bar in the forest along the way, we found ourselves back on tarmac roads and heading back to where the whole hike had started – I call it a hike now as what had started as a 40 minute walk did eventually turn out to be an hours-long trek up and back down the valleys which cradle the river Manzanares.

Hey look, it's the castle!

I can’t say I didn’t complain at all during the actual trip, but as we finished off I realised that it had been a great day spent out of the hectic city centre, and it was nice to be up on my feet doing something when I spend most of my days sat behind a computer screen.

I’d definitely recommend anyone who is visiting Madrid for a few days and wants to see a bit of nature pay the place a visit – just be sure to dress more appropriately for the journey than I did! You can catch a bus from within the city for just 1.70€ each way, so it really is an absolute steal of a day out!

And now, keeping on the theme of castles and royal locations (Manzanares El Real literally means “Manzanares the Royal”), as someone rather indifferent to football, Saturday could only mean one thing for me – it was time for the royal wedding! Love it or hate it, I saw it as a chance to host a get together and have a few cheeky drinks over a selection of British food, and so I invited my friends over to mine to watch the live stream and wave flags around a bit for a couple of hours.

The spread is laid
Me and Megan get all patriotic

We had a great time critiquing people’s outfits, singing along to the songs that we knew, and tucking into tuna mayo and egg and cress sandwiches (with the cress sneakily substituted for some chopped spinach as it seems like cress doesn’t exist here). The excitement was all over way too soon, but before everyone left, it was time to sample a British party staple – the humble scotch egg. Those don’t exist here either, so I took up the challenge of making them myself from scratch, and although they weren’t perfect I’m pretty proud of how they came out.

Scotch eggs by yours truly

With the shenanigans all over and with it being a Sunday evening, there’s only one thing I should be doing right now, and it’s not sitting here writing this blog post. I shall then be leaving it here, putting on a face mask, and spending the next hour relaxing in the bath!