20.10.23 — Journal

Rediscovering Madrid

It’s been a good few years since I first visited Madrid and then moved back here permanently at the beginning of 2019, but I’m always still surprised by the amount of stuff going on in the city. I’m always even more shocked by the amount of stuff I haven’t done yet, so this summer I set out to right this wrong and check a few more things off my list.

After a series of visits and parties, I was back to making plans with my friends from here or simply by myself. The city’s series of free summer activities called Veranos de la Villa was in full swing, so I first visited a series of free art exhibitions. These ranged from the work of photographer Marivi Ibarrola, who documented the crazy 80s in Madrid, to an exhibition exploring chicano art, where “chicano” referring to residents of the USA with Mexican ancestry.

Inspired by a visit to the Reina Sofía Museum with Luisa and Sol, I decided to take advantage of the free evening entry to the huge Prado Museum and took myself down for a wander around. After queuing up for a good while in the evening heat, I had just enough time to visit my favourite artworks before heading back outside for an evening stroll around the city.

I also discovered something I should have investigated years ago: the city’s municipal pools. These outdoor spaces are just the ticket for a hot summer afternoon in Madrid, so I spent plenty an evening and weekend filling in my sudoku book in between quick dips in the pool to cool off. Bliss!

With Sara, Julia, and other friends sticking around in the city for the summer (which usually gets pretty empty as everyone flees the heat), I also had the chance to visit some great places with them. These ranged from evening picnics watching the vibrant colours of the sunset to afternoons spent relaxing by the lake (and the nearby pool, of course).

Of course I also spent plenty of time in my pretty little neighbourhood.

One of the highlights of this time period has to have been a huge celebration down by the river in order to welcome back the Spain Women’s National Football Team after their victory over England in the World Cup. I’d watched the match at home with Álvaro and had celebrated my host country’s victory over the motherland, mainly because I knew there’d be a fabulous buzz around the place – and there sure was!

After watching the team arrive back in Madrid from Sydney and parade through the streets on an open-top bus, I cycled down to what I thought would be a small event down by the river. Boy, was I wrong!

As I arrived it looked like half of Spain had shown up, and there was no way I was finding anywhere to return my city rental bike. I soon got caught up in it all, and so left the thing resting against a tree and in doing so incurred a 6€ fine for having it on me for too long. It was all worth it though, with the hype reaching a fever pitch as the bus rolled up and the players took to the stage.

I did eventually have to return the bike, a task which took me all the way back up into the city proper in the difficult search for a station with a free spot to return the thing. My initial idea was to return back to the river and the festivities, but having come so far I decided to grab another bike and head back home. It was a nice trip though, with the streets empty and looking very pretty.

The streets of La Latina are some of the oldest in the city.

The next day I then had even more reason to celebrate, as my new passport finally arrived after the whole fiasco that happened when my previous one broke in Tokyo. This meant that I was all set for another two weeks of travel, but more on that when I get round to it.

For now, I was packing my backpack not to travel abroad, but to travel up to the north – this time with some very special guests joining me. More on that in my next post!