15.10.23 — Journal

Visits & Street Parties

Now back in Madrid after a two-week galavant around Japan, I was suffering pretty badly with jet lag after a 14 hour flight from China to Spain. This had me awake at 6am the day after, so I decided to make the most of my early-morning energy and went to see the sun rise over the river near my flat.

It’s been a while since I posted a selfie so here’s one in the morning sun.

The municipal hall looked even prettier than usual in the warm light.

After this little daybreak stroll which took me through my favourite local park, I headed home just to then immediately fall ill. All the adrenaline that had kept me going through the jet lag, heat, and long days in Japan had finally gotten to me, so I spent a few days resting and recovering back at home.

Before I’d fully recovered I’d to get back up and out of bed, however, as I received an unexpected phone call from Abi. She was up in Bilbao as part of a tour around Spain with her friend Niamh and the two of them were suffering the notoriously unpredictable northern weather. Wanting a bit of sun, they asked if they could come down for a couple of days, a proposition I was more than happy to accept.

Their visit coincided with the Fiestas de San Cayetano, a series of street parties which see the narrow streets of Lavapiés and Embajadores fill with bars, food stalls, and music to celebrate the summer here in the capital. I was keen to show Abi and Niamh the best of Madrid, so we headed out and grabbed some drinks to boogie our way through the crowds.

We then spent the weekend checking out the best of Madrid, from the tranquility of Retiro Park to the lively evenings in La Latina. We finished our last night in one of the best possible ways: watching the sun set over the west of the city from the Templo de Debod.

The streets of La Latina were also getting ready for their festivals.

With Abi and Niamh leaving in their car back up to the north of Spain, I then only had one day to rest until my next visit. This time, it was Luisa and Sol who were flying in to Madrid after I’d badgered them to come when I visited them in Norwich to see in the new year. No rest for the wicked!

Luisa’s visit coincided with not just some other street parties – this time those of San Lorenzo – but also her birthday. Before we got to work celebrating any of that, though, I did a whistle-stop tour of the city as best as I could in the relentless summer heat.

When things got too hot we scuttled back home and I finished frying up some croquetas that I’d made for their visit. Another day we headed to the Reina Sofía Museum, a famous art gallery containing most notably Picasso’s Guernica. The place is only 20 minutes walk from my house and yet I’d never paid it a visit. Upon arriving I discovered it was free as I have a young person’s card – even more reason to have visited sooner!

These two were the best artwork.

When we got out on to the streets, the parties had moved from the upper end of Lavapiés down to the lower side, which was great as the metro dropped us right into the epicentre of the celebrations. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, we grabbed a chorizo sandwich and some tinto de verano, Madrid’s signature summer drink.

Luisa representing Leeds with her Fred Aldous bag.

Celebrating Lu’s birthday was a little bit more chaotic, as we’d sourced some funky candles with coloured flames but then completely forgot to buy a cake to put them in. Improvising with a mango we’d bought earlier, we threw a little party in my flat before spending the rest of the day chilling around the city.

To end the day I once again took Luisa and Sol to see the the sunset from the Parque del Oeste. I know I keep coming back to that spot, but it’s one of the most underrated areas of Madrid in my humble opinion. It’s the perfect spot for some reading, a picnic, a romantic evening stroll… it never fails!

The rays of sun emanate from behind the mountains.

With Lu and Sol’s departure my run of visits was over – but the party certainly wasn’t! The conclusion of the Fiestas de San Lorenzo saw the beginning of the Fiestas de la Paloma, street parties which move up from Lavapiés and to the La Latina neighbourhood. For those, I met up with Luis, Carmen, and a bunch of other friends to have a beer and a lot of laughs as we explored the area’s cooky bars and streets.

I had a fabulous time with Abi and Niamh, Luis and Sol, and then Luis and friends. The period between my visit to Japan and my next little summer holiday was – as you can see – a very intense one! Despite being full of a cold during most of it, I had a lot of fun and really came to appreciate the city in which I live.

Keep an eye out on my blog as I’ll be trying to pump out a few more posts over the coming days – I’m very far behind and I’ve got loads to document and many cool photos to share! I’m currently recovering from another bout of jet lag, but more on that when I (eventually) get to it…