25.05.23 — Journal

San Isidro

After a couple of weekends spent in England in order to celebrate my birthday week, the proceeding weekend was then about as local as you can get: it was time to celebrate San Isidro, Madrid’s huge annual party dedicated to the patron saint of the city.

I’d not properly celebrated the event since back in 2019, when me and Bogar took to the pradera (the park where the main celebrations are held) to drink beer, eat kebabs, and enjoy the live music. This year, and with Bogar now living up in Gijón, it was time for something a little different!

Me, Sara, and Rocío met up in Malasaña for some brunch in order to kick off the weekend, where we spent a good few hours eating some delicious food and having a hoot of a time as we laughed about all sorts of stuff. From there, we headed down to Las Vistillas, a park where they were showcasing the chotis, Madrid’s famous dance. I learned that “chotis” (roughly pronounced cho-tees) actually comes from the word “Scottish”, as it’s origins lie in some kind of Celtic dance originating there: I didn’t catch the full story, but it was interesting!

As you can see, we were all donning our traditional clavel (carnation) thanks to a trip I made to the shop to grab some drinks and during which I found these clip-on flowers to celebrate San Isidro in style. One year I’ll don the whole attire, complete with suit and beret, and be a true chulapo!

After admiring the dancing and signing along to ¡Viva Madrid! (“Long live Madrid!”) for a good while, we went for a wander down to the south of the city. This took us past a lovely spot with views over the south of the city, where we stopped to take in the sun and the flowers, before landing on a terrace at one of our favourite spots for a drink and a bite to eat.

Once we’d had some food, Rocío had to head off, but me and Sara carried on our evening as we crossed the Puente de Toledo, one of the city’s oldest bridges. We watched the sun set, danced to some music by one of the street artists, and watched the world go by.

From there we headed down to the Matadero, a cultural centre near my house which was hosting a series of free concerts to celebrate San Isidro. We had a good dance around for a while whilst a band from London were playing their set, but then grew tired and so headed up to my trusty local bar for one last drink and a chat before the night ended.

It was an absolutely wonderful day and the perfect way to celebrate San Isidro. Madrid can be big and overwhelming and way too warm, but the spring weather, people having fun in the street, and endless love songs dedicated to this great city made me fall in love with the capital all over again.

¡Viva Madrid!