10.10.20 — Journal

The Second Lockdown Hits

With my last post focussing firmly on the inside of my flat, this post looks to my time out in the streets and hidden corners of Madrid. This is something that I’ve had to make the most of seeing as the looming prospect of a second lockdown has since become a reality. This new lockdown is – mercifully – less restrictive than the last, as it mainly concerns travel in and out of Madrid, and doesn’t leave us cooped up in our houses.

Without further ado, however, let’s delve into the past week’s worth of antics, which began with a bike ride which took me from the northernmost point of my local metro line, all the way down the eastern corridor of the city, and then back home. Starting in Moncloa, I sped off downhill through the Parque del Oeste, taking a little diversion which led me to discover a lovely bike trail along a less developed section of the Manzanares River.

I never knew about this hidden little cycling path and lovely patch of greenery.

From there I had to double back on myself before I ended up out too far away from home, and then proceeded to cycle my usual route along the river, past the Matadero, and back up the hill to my apartment. I was a little dubious as to whether I should have been following some of that paths that I did, as I did wonder if they encroached on some of the neighbourhoods of Madrid that have been in selective lockdown for a week or so now, but nobody stopped me so off I went!

Another evening was spent at a colleague’s house, when I headed up to her lovely flat in the centre to pick up some packaging samples for a new project at work. Upon arrival I was delighted to be invited to stay for tea (dinner, in standard English), and soon found myself plied with tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), jamón (cured ham), and a delicious homemade cream of pumpkin and carrot soup, amongst other goodies.

After chatting the evening away with her family, I returned home full of food and tipsy on cider – as every evening should end!

The next evening I headed out with Jhosef to celebrate his job offer at a company here in Madrid, where we headed up to a rooftop terrace for some drinks and pinchos, small dishes of food from the Basque Country. The evening was short but enjoyable, but I didn’t have long to wait for my next reunion, however, as I’d arranged to meet up with Sara who has moved to Madrid from Gijón in my beloved northern region of Asturias!

I last saw Sara two over two years ago now when I was last up in Oviedo just before Kevin left for the US, and so you can imagine my excitement when she messaged me to let me know she was now in Madrid! The two of us arranged to meet bang in the centre of Madrid, at the Puerta del Sol, below the iconic statue of Madrid’s infamous symbol: el oso y el madroño, “the bear and the strawberry tree”.

From there, we walked and chatted away non-stop for a good few hours, passing by the city’s cathedral, which looked absolutely resplendent in the evening sunlight. Along the way, we stopped for a caña (small beer) and some tapas atop an upturned barrel in the street along the way, where we caught up on each other’s news and gossip from the past couple of years.

The area around the palace and cathedral always looks dreamy at this time of day.

I’ve always been a fan of the pink sunsets that Madrid enjoys.

From the centre, we descended through Lavapiés and down to my neighbourhood, where we gorged on two of my favourite plates from my favourite local bar: chopitos (fried squids) and huevos rotos (chips with fried eggs and cured ham). We then stopped off at my flat, where we enjoyed a vermouth to end the night whilst messing around with the coloured lights.

A few days later, I took myself out for a trip through the city, which involved cycling up to the Chueca neighbourhood (the gay centre of the city, where I stayed the very first time I visited this city) and then passing through Malasaña. After passing through the streets of this kooky neighbourhood for a while, I stopped off for a fully loaded pitta at a lovely little spot my friend had recommended.

After this delicious lunch – which reminded me of the many evenings spent in Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds, where we’d often hang out and eat delicious food and sip on ciders as students – I went in search of some of Madrid’s most delicious vegan donuts. I was saddened to learn upon arrival at the shop that they’d all sold out, but I wasn’t particularly mad, as I’d enjoyed a lovely saunter around a neighbourhood of the city that’s not a typical haunt of mine.

To end a busy week of work and escapades in the city centre, I paid a visit to the British shop to pick up some Vimto, which I’ve since got Jhosef hooked on to also. I enjoy these little evenings out to the north of the city, where I take the opportunity to do a spot of reading on the bus, before cycling back through the city centre and back home.

This brings to a close my updates from the last couple of weeks here in Madrid, where we’re back on alert as we’ve been put back into an estado de alarma (state of alarm) due to the rising coronavirus cases. I’ll be heading out to visit some friends over this long weekend, but we’ll be wearing masks and socially distancing and keeping the numbers of people down to a bare minimum – we’ve all to do our bit!

Until the next update, ¡chau!