01.07.19 — Journal

The Briggs Siblings in Madrid

After Danni & Abi headed back to England, there was still one person left to visit before the end of my back-to-back weekends of hosting – my sister! She arrived for what would be here second visit, as she’s already visited last year when she was accompanied by her partner Johann.

This time we were both in the mood for taking things a little easier, and so I didn’t pack the schedule nearly half as full with plans as last time, and hence the Friday of her arrival was spent eating at a local bar and then wandering around the city centre for a while.

With the beginning of the weekend, the two of us decided to head out and check out a few areas of the city that Ellie hadn’t been to during her last visit, beginning with a trip to pick up some Manolitos, little sweet croissants which I maintain are the best in the entire world. After arriving to find the shop empty, we resolved to come back the next day, and I took Ellie to try the city’s best palmera (heart-shaped glazed pastry) from La Duquesita.

After snacking on this as we weaved out of some of the kooky shops around Chueca and Malasaña, we wound up back near the city centre, and headed up to the roof terrace of El Corte Inglés. There we checked out the views over the roofs of the city, enjoyed some of the best pizza going, and held a little photo shoot – even if the sun was adamant we should have terrible lighting.

A beer whilst looking over the city is always a good plan.

Ellie stands on the terrace of El Corte Inglés, the buildings of Gran Vía in the background.

From there we headed on to the Teleférico, repeating what I’d done with Danni & Abi just one week before. This time, as it wasn’t an evening, we weren’t in such a rush to return, and so we took a good while sitting on the grass at the other end, chatting about life and other shenanigans whilst sharing a packet of crisps.

The views of a Madrid neighbourhood from the cable car.
The mountains surrounding Madrid seen from the cable car over the Casa de Campo.
Ellie, with the skyline of Madrid in the background.

The rest of the afternoon was then spent hopping from one area of the city to another, in each spot stopping to relax on a bench or enjoy a cold glass of beer with lemon mixed in – the perfect summer drink.

Ellie with a drink sat in a plaza in Madrid.

For tea (see: dinner), we headed back to a place that has proven a hit with everyone who’s ever visited (especially Luisa) – Buns and Bones. Here we munched down on some of the tastiest Vietnamese bao going, and then headed to the southern neighbourhood of Vallecas to watch the sunset from one of the best vantage points going.

Ellie in Vallecas, Madrid, with the city skyline in the background as the sun sets.

It was here where we finally got round to taking the only photo of the two of us from the whole trip, but we soon found ourselves very distracted by the arrival of two dogs, who came along and sat with their humans to watch the sun set with us. We were truly blessed!

A selfie on me and Ellie as we watch the sun set, bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun.
Two dogs sit with two women and watch the sun set over Madrid.

A lot of my time was spent watching these two dogs rather than the sunset in the background.

A panorama of a Madrid sunset.

Sunday began with a lovely brunch at Ojalá, another spot which never fails to delight – and which always takes me back to my parents’ first visit or when Izzy came along and stayed with me whilst I lived nearby. With the cute deco and the picturesque and tasty plates, it was a struggle not to spent the whole time searching for the perfect Instagram shot!

Ellie in Ojalá.
The brunch at Ojalá.

After our lovely meal in Malasaña, we caught the metro back down to my neighbourhood, Arganzuela, and paid a visit to the city’s massive greenhouse. I’ve walked past this place a few times, but I’d never really paid much attention to what was inside the big glass building – an oxymoronic statement, I know. Also, as Ellie is all set to study a master’s in biology starting in September, and with the place being open for free to all during certain hours every weekend, it would have been lunacy not to take her!

We spent a good time inside exploring the four different climate-controlled areas, with specimens ranging from desert cacti to tropical rainforest vines. The humidity and heat inside the place, however, soon got to us, especially with the outside temperature in Madrid rapidly climbing, and so we soon found ourselves sat at a terrace with a cool beer in hand.

Ellie in the Madrid City Greenhouse.

Once we’d recovered, we headed down to the lake in Casa de Campo, taking with us a picnic bag and a box full of Manolitos (the mini croissants) that we’d eventually managed to get hold of!

We then spent a decent amount of time lounging and half napping on the banks of the lake, before heading back up to one of Ellie’s favourite spots, the Debod Temple. There we watched the sun set behind the mountains in the distance, and then headed back to my flat to prepare for Ellie’s departure the following morning.

Another Madrid sun set, this time seen from the Debod Temple.

I had a lovely time having Ellie over with me in Madrid, and I think we set the perfect pace such that the weekend felt much more like an exercise in relaxing in different spots rather than a rushed tourist tour. Also, when you’ve lived for around 20 years with someone in the same house, having them crash in your flat for a few nights feels like second nature!

I know Ellie had a lovely time, and I hope to have her back soon, but for now I must rush on with writing the next post! You may be pleased to know that this post marks the end of my many visits, and that the next one involves me taking a trip to Barcelona and features plenty of free pizza. All shall be revealed…