28.02.21 — Travel

My Mini Madrid Holiday

A couple of weeks ago saw me work just thee of the five days of the working week, as I’d a couple of holiday days left over from 2020 which I’d to use up as soon as possible. I thus turned my weekend into a long four-day mini holiday, and kicked off my time off with a spot of lunch with Napo.

The two of us met up for our meal in Chueca, where Napo took me to a Chinese restaurant that he knew. There we enjoyed a selection of absolutely delicious dishes, including crispy duck, one of my all-time favourites! A bowl of ice cream and couple of beers later, we headed out for a wander around the city, making the most of the winter sun and the quiet Thursday-afternoon calm that had descended on the city.

After discovering a lovely little plaza and church that I’d never seen before, we passed by Delish Vegan Doughnuts, hoping to catch them with some in stock – they’re so popular that they usually fly off the shelves! We were in luck, however, and grabbed ourselves a selection of doughnuts and a coffee to be enjoyed in a nearby square.

There’s no better start to a few days off than a huge cream-filled doughnut.

Once we’d finished our little sweet coffee break, we headed down to the Temple of Debod, where we’d decided that we’d spend the evening watching the sunset and treating ourselves to a beer. The blue skies over the west of the city which are usually on show from this little vantage point were nowhere to be seen, however, as a particularly bad day of Madrid’s unfortunately infamous pollution had tinted the skyline a grim shade of beige…

At least the Royal Palace and Cathedral were still visible amongst the smog.

Once the sun had set and we had grown tired – helped in part by the beer – we headed back down to the train station and off back home. I was keen to get a good night’s sleep in, you see, as I had big plans for the next day. I’d decided that I was going to head off up to Manzanares El Real and trek up to La Pedriza, a rock formation that I’ve visited several times before with Cake Club, my sister, and Em & Lincoln.

I headed off the next morning to the north of the city, where I’d catch my bus up to the small hillside town. I made the trip alone, as I wanted to unwind and completely disconnect, and so took with me a book that I was sent as part of a fun Instagram book swap that I took part in a good while back.

The walk is pretty much all uphill for the first hour, but it does offer some gorgeous scenery.

Hopping off the bus, I started the long slog uphill after stopping to pick up a drink and some snacks to keep me going for the few hours that I’d be wandering through the mountains. I took the same route that I’d taken the first time I ever made this journey, back when I headed out with Cake Club in trainers and with a tote bag without realising how long a day out it would be!

This large circular route would take me about two hours, but I decided to intersperse the walk with plenty of stops to snap some photos, eat some snacks, read some of my book, and just generally take in the views that surrounded me. The first hour or so of the walk was wholly uphill, but I knew that it’d all be made worth my while after cresting the high point of the route, where stunning panoramas over the snow-topped mountains suddenly burst into view.

The downward section which followed these gorgeous views was then naturally a whole lot easier, and I wasted little time in reaching the basin of the valley, and crossing the River Manzanares (which eventually flows through the centre of Madrid and right past my house!) via a little wooden bridge. Once on the other side, I found an empty little hiker’s refuge, which I explored for a while before sitting down on one of the chairs outside to read some more of my book, Los reglones torcidos de Dios.

Once I’d progressed a little further through the novel and with the late-afternoon cold had beginning to descend, I hauled myself through the last stretch of the climb, involving clambering over a series of interesting rock formations. This led me to the most tedious part of the whole hike, a 40-minute walk down an empty and rather uninteresting road which led back to the centre of Manzanares El Real and where I would catch my bus back home into the big city.

Once back in my flat, I naturally headed straight for a nap on the sofa, allowing myself a mere half an hour to recover from the seven-hour round trip up to the mountains and back. This was because I was then to head out for some drinks with Jhosef and Sara, who were keen to make the most of the springtime weather and the new 11pm curfew to enjoy some Friday night drinks out in the city centre.

The three of us kicked of the evening with some gin and tonics in the centre, before heading down to a little bar that me and Jhosef had visited some time before, and where we’d enjoyed a lovely meal out. This night was no different, and the three of us enjoyed a selection of delicious dishes, all accompanied by another round of gin, some live music in the form of a guy and his guitar, and a round of shots on the house!

I began Saturday morning then, as you may have guessed, with a heavy head and very little energy. I was determined, however, to get out of the house again, and so headed down to the river and the nearby supermarket to buy myself a new frying pan and catch up with my family over the phone.

With my light hangover, it was dark by the time I’d summed up the energy to head out.

The next day, Jhosef paid me a visit again in order to engage in an afternoon of what we call co-working – where the two of us sit in my living room working on our own independent tasks. This soon turned into Jhosef whipping up a lovely guisado – a dish very similar to what we’d call a stew. Once we’d had lunch, Jhosef headed off home, and I popped on The Rocky Horror Picture Show as my evening’s entertainment.

Jhosef also made enough rice to feed five thousand…

A busy week at work then proceeded, but I naturally took up the opportunity to speed through the city and down by the river at wild speeds on my bike whenever the weather would permit. I find it a great way of getting home, doing a bit of exercise, and enjoying the natural areas of Madrid all at the same time!

This weekend, although unfortunately not a long one, has been equally as entertaining. Saturday began with breakfast out and an impromptu visit to the British shop to pick up some Cadbury’s chocolate as a little treat, after which I naturally returned on a bike, making the most of the glorious weather that we’re enjoying this weekend.

Just as I was arriving home after my little shopping trip, Jhosef called to say that he and his family were in a nearby Peruvian restaurant and about to have lunch, and if I wanted to join. I couldn’t pass up on the offer to try out a new local restaurant and enjoy some delicious Peruvian food, and so headed up the road to meet everyone. The food was exceptional – I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so the waiter suggested I try a mixed plate, which turned out to be as huge as it was tasty!

After such a huge meal, which was washed down with a tres leches cake and a glass of vermouth on the house, we were all absolutely stuffed and very tired. Not wanting to head home our separate ways for a siesta to sleep off the lunch, however, we decided to head down to the river, where we could all relax on the grass. It turned out to be a great plan, as the sun was hitting just right and there was a musician out providing some lovely ambiance – the perfect way to end an afternoon!

In the evening, I came up with the idea of grabbing some bikes (not like me, I know) and heading for a casual cycle up the northern stretch of the river. Me and Jhosef set off for what I thought would be a quick to-and-fro trip, but which turned into a full 2-hour trip up to the north of Madrid and back home through the centre!

This just about brings us up to the current moment, where I’m sat at home engaging in another afternoon of co-working with Jhosef. We’ve got some classical British 80’s tunes on, he’s working on some emails, and I’m writing my blog – I leave you enjoying a very chilled Sunday afternoon!