23.10.21 — Journal

The Briggs Siblings Reunite

A mere week after my parents visited me, and over two years after she was last able to come over, I was joined once again by my sister here in Madrid! After work one day, I left the office and hurried my way up to the airport on the metro, as I’d agreed to meet her so that we could head back to my flat together and kick off of her week with me here in Spain.

Our first evening together was spent having some drinks: I was in no rush because I’d taken the next day off! We discussed what we might get up to over the coming days, throwing together some quick plans for the next day before heading off to bed.

The next day we headed to a lovely restaurant on Gran Vía that I’d visited with my parents, as my mum had spoke so much about the dessert that I decided it was worth going back. We rocked up and ordered plenty of little plates to share at, and Ellie decided we should share a litre of sangría. Once we’d polished off our crema catalana (basically a crème brûlée) and torrija quemada, we began to realise that the sangría had more of a kick to it than we thought!

There’s nothing more dangerous than a sangría that lures you into a false sense of security…

We then paid up and headed out into the city, having another decidedly non-alcoholic drink on another terrace before heading down to the lake. There, Ellie grabbed herself an ice cream and we relaxed for a while, resting between the racket of the squawking parrots in the trees above. We then walked back towards the city centre, grabbing the train back home.

That evening, we headed out for an evening meal, grabbing some delicious dishes in my favourite local Italian restaurant. As we ordered a huge slice of chocolate cake for dessert, it was getting quite late, and so we finished out last glass of wine and headed back home.

As we awoke the next day we were already in day three of Ellie’s weeklong visit, and so headed out bright and early to make the most of the sunny Saturday. After some breakfast near home, we headed down to the Matadero, having a drink whilst we waited for an exhibition at the design centre there to open.

I was particularly keen to visit the Exposición Madridgrafía, as some of my work at Erretres was included in this exhibition looking at graphic design made in Madrid. It was lovely to see the brands I worked on for Buendía Estudios and Seedtag up there, and I felt honoured to have work included in a place that I’ve been visiting for a good few years!

After taking the obligatory photos alongside my work (which I have omitted here), we headed just down the road and to the city’s public greenhouse, which Ellie always enjoys a wander round being the biologist that she is. It was actually a much more pleasant experience than last time – despite the obligatory face masks – as it wasn’t half as humid and much cooler than last time.

With all the plants seen and all the obligatory aesthetic photos taken, we then headed back home to prepare some food, as we’d a picnic planned in the Retiro park. We last did this when Ellie visited with her boyfriend Johann back in 2018, and it went down a treat, so we’d another lakeside lunch planned.

After we’d tucked into our original creation of bread with alioli, tomato, and basil, we then headed back out of the park to grab some bikes, which we then used to tour all four corners of the huge park. Once we’d tired of the park, we then headed onwards to the Temple of Debod, where we caught a gorgeous sunset to end another long day of exploration.

One of the few selfies of the two of us that we actually got round to taking…

The next day, we made the most of the bikes that we’d taken out, heading down to the river for a cycle around before heading out for lunch. Ellie was keen to head back to NAP Pizza, my favourite pizzeria in Madrid, and it was there that we made the discovery of the trip – a delicious starter made with strips of aubergine with cheese and tomato. It was absolutely delicious!

With lunch done, we ended up back on our bikes again, cycling all the way down to the Anillo Verde (literally the “green ring”) leading out into the north of the city. The trip back took us past the lake again, but we didn’t stick around for long as we’d elsewhere to be…

Once we’d finished our little exploration of Madrid’s cycling routes, it was time to get the metro down to the south of the city to do something that even I haven’t done since the last time Ellie came – watch the sunset from a park down in Vallecas. This great vantage point was the perfect spot for a Sunday evening, and we enjoyed some drinks and snacks as the sun put on a lovely show.

As night fell, we headed back to the centre of the city and began an evening of tapeo – having drinks and eating tapas around the literary quarter. Ellie was back on her favourite, patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), and we even made a visit at the pintxos (small bites of food) bar that had been such a success with my mum and dad. The night ended in La Esperanza, one of my favourite bars for a drink and a quick bite to eat before heading home.

Nothing says Madrid more than a gin and tonic, a vermouth, and a bite to eat.

We began the next day at Ojalá, a spot which never fails for a slap-up breakfast. From there, we headed down to the Parque de Atracciones, Madrid’s theme park that I visited for the first time just a few weeks ago. There we spent the rest of the day, knackering ourselves out on the various attractions before having our evening meal at my local bar.

The day after signalled our last full day in the city together, and we’d arranged to meet Luis for some drinks after we’d stopped by to meet him and some other friends one evening before. This took us down to the Matadero and then back up to the pizza bar that had been such a hit, all before ending up in Citynizer Plaza to have a few drinks after I’d spontaneously bought myself a new iPad.

The Aperol Spritzes may have flowed a bit too easily, as the ice creams we bought after nearly ended up on the floor.

Ending our last full day with some drinks by down the river, it was then time for me to head back to the office – but I wasn’t alone! Ellie joined me for a few hours in the morning to lend me a hand preparing a workshop, before heading out to do a bit of shopping after we’d had lunch together at a little bar near work.

That evening was a chill one at home. We ordered in some arepas and had one last drink as Ellie packed up ready to head back to old Blighty the next morning, which she did as I bundled her into a taxi destined for the airport as I headed off to the office and back to the daily grind…

As with the last two times Ellie has come over to see me here in the big city, the two of us had an absolute blast, and I hope that she can nip over more often now that we’re all vaccinated and things are a bit more under control! It’s been a busy period for family visits, with my parents’ visit just the week before and my auntie and uncle coming the day after – but I’ll save that one for the next blog post!