18.04.23 — Journal

Semana Santa with Amber

Some surprisingly (and worryingly) early heat here in Spain allowed me to go for some wanders around the city, which I outlined in my last post. It also meant that it was the perfect time to welcome Amber to the city, who was headed back for the first time since she last visited nearly six years ago! How time flies…

To receive her in style, I hopped on an early train up to the airport and caught her just as she was looking for me in the arrival hall. The two of us then grabbed the train back, installed Amber in my flat, and spent the rest of the day wandering, eating, and relaxing around the city.

In the evening, we headed up into the city centre as I was keen for Amber to catch one of the Easter processions. Easter here is called Samana Santa (literally “Holy Week”) and I had my first experience with it whilst here as an intern back in the day all those years ago. Many streets are closed off for processions to pass through, which involve church members carrying intricately fabricated statues of various catholic figures through the city.

After some drama looking for a bar in which to await the procession’s arrival, we had a coffee and then made our way down to the procession route. There, things were very tense. The procession was late, the sun was beating down, and we saw our fair share of people pass out with the intensity of the whole affair. Quite the introduction for Amber!

The procession finally arrived, with horsemen, the cloaked figures (called nazarenos) seen every Semana Santa, and finally the two images: firstly of Jesus (below), then of Mary. As ever, it was an intense sensorial experience, with the beating drums, the loud brass band, the smell of incense, and the visual spectacle unfolding on the street.

The next day we opted for a much less intense approach, hopping from terrace to terrace to have drinks, eat snacks, and bask in the sun. We stopped by the greenhouse near my flat, watched the sunset from the park that Ellie always loves to go to, and wound up having some delicious food in the city entre before heading back home for an cheeky spa evening at home.

The greenhouse is a spot I always forget to visit until people come to see me.

The day after was suddenly Amber’s last day in Madrid, so she packed her bag in the morning before we hit the streets out for one last outing. Hopping on the bus, we wound up in Retiro, where we had a wander around and had another drink on yet another terrace. I wasn’t complaining, it’s not often I manage to sit still and sunbathe!

After some lunch near home and then a quick drink whilst we waited for the train, I waved Amber off as she headed back to the airport for her flight back home to the UK. It was lovely to have her over and obviously sad to see her go, but before she did so we’d made plans to reunite when I’m back in the UK in the near future.

Until then, Bam!