24.06.18 — Journal

We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We Had Premieres in the Sun

My last post about the sun arriving in Madrid ended with the prediction that the city was soon to become one big oven, and I can report that, to my utmost despair, I was correct. This week we’ve been suffering through temperatures of up to 32°, but I think the worst thing is that the temperature drops only slightly during the nighttime, as I have to try and fall asleep at 1am when it’s still 28°.

Anyway, enough complaining, as just a week ago I was actually still wandering around with my coat on. Me and Heidi started one of the cooler weekends when we went to watch the final match in our friend Loredana’s football league, and to celebrate I brought along some gin and tonic, which went down quite well…

We also had the upmost honour of being graced by the presence of Stuart, one of the player’s dogs, who was a very good boy – even if he did commit the odd pitch invasion…

In the end I have no idea who won, as Stuart kept me rather distracted from the gameplay, but a good time was had by all, so who really cares? Afterwards me and Heidi headed out for some ramen, after I’d been harbouring a craving for quite a while by that point, and once we found somewhere which was open, we were not disappointed!

The Heidi & Ollie food tour didn’t stop there through, as the next day we were once again back in the city, this time in search of a cute little bar for some lunch in Lavapiés. Once we’d found a spot, we tucked into some delicious homemade dishes like croquetas (croquettes, duh), empanadas (a bit like pasties) and I had some delicious albóndigas (meatballs).

In one of our recent installations of our Taco Wednesday (trademark pending) tradition, I decided to make the most of the sunny yet relatively cool weather, and strolled up to the city centre through Lavapiés instead of getting the metro. It turned out to be a lovely wander, and I stumbled across plenty of streets and bars which I’ll have to revisit in the future. For now, here’s a few photos I took during my favourite time of day: when the sun is low in the sky.

The day after, I had arranged to meet Sofia, who worked at Erretres until she left just a couple of months ago. She took me to an amazing little Ecuadorean spot for lunch which was hidden away in one of the markets near work, where we had a delicious lunch and I tried ceviche (a dish made with fish which has been cooked by soaking it in lime juice) for the first time – it was delicious!

After lunch we headed down to a lovely little spot in the west of the city, “La Rosalia del Parque del Oeste”, or “The Rose Garden of the Western Park”. The place really lives up to its name – you can smell the roses before you even arrive! I visited back in winter when it was all completely dead, but when we ventured inside I saw that it had been transformed, as almost every plant was in full bloom.

Whilst we spent even more time chatting and wandering amongst the roses, we noticed the cable cars were back up and running overhead, but I commented on how I wouldn’t go on it as I am deathly claustrophobic. So, what happened next? Why, of course, as we were leaving Sofia suggested we give it a twirl and so we soon found ourselves clambering into an unnervingly swaying cabin…

I wasn’t keen on the idea of being suspended in a box, but here we go…

Once we’d been what felt like pretty much launched out of the station, we were soon flying over the rose garden we’d just been in at quite the speed. I’d never really realised how long the cable car’s route actually is until we were up there and on the thing, but thankfully someone had warned me in advance back in 2016 that the other station is in the middle of nowhere, and so we’d been sure to grab return tickets.

Once we’d reached the other side we asked the operator what was to be found near to the second station, and sure as hell he responded that “aquí hay campo”, meaning “here there’s countryside”. Goes without saying that we didn’t stick around for too long, taking just a few pictures before making the return journey back into the city.

Last weekend it was also time for Spain to play Portugal in the World Cup, and so I allowed myself to be talked into going along to watch the game at a bar in the north of the city – the key word here being dragged, please don’t be fooled into thinking that I am interested in professional football in any way. It actually turned out to be a really fun night, even though I didn’t drink anything (mainly because I’m poor), and it was nice to have a snoop around the more built-up northern district that I don’t often get chance to visit.

That same weekend, Heidi’s brother and his girlfriend came to visit the city, and so I met up with them all in Retiro Park for some sunbathing. Once we’d spent enough time lounging in the sun, which by this point was getting rather hot, we headed back to Lavapiés once more for some tapas for lunch – hell, if I hadn’t found my Westlife reference so funny, I would have named this blog post something related to Lavapiés. I’ll get back to why this blog post is called “We had joy, we had fun, we had premieres in the sun” after the photo break…

Cycling through Retiro

So now to the title: why did we have “premieres in the sun”? Well, as you definitely won’t know because I am sworn to secrecy at work, we’ve been working on the design for a new TV series over the past few months. The series, “El Día de Mañana” (which they’ve translated as “What the Future Holds”), is a new historical drama by Movistar+, who are owned by Telefonica – quite an impressive client!

The identity we designed was launched on Tuesday night, when we all convened at the Capitol theatre on Gran Vía. As it’s a very famous theatre, serving as the location for all the famous television and movie premieres, I put my glad rags on and rocked up to see what we’d been working on all up in lights!

Once we’d seen some of the stars arrive (including Brays Efe, the star of my favourite TV series Paquita Salas – if you speak Spanish you should absolutely see it), we headed inside, took our seats and waited for the screening to get underway.

Before sitting in the theatre and watching the first two episodes, I hadn’t actually had chance to watch the previews that they had sent us months before, and so I had next to no idea what they’d be like. An hour and a half later though, I was dying to watch more, and I’d definitely recommend anyone with access to the series give it a watch – the story is very fast paced and the visuals are stunning – and I’m not just saying that because we worked on the graphics!

The best part of the premiere evening though has to have been the after party, as we found some people from Movistar that we knew, and they invited us to join them on a fancy hotel terrace for a few drinks!

The terrace was a gorgeous setting for drinks, with views out over the city by night, but I didn’t take a photo as I didn’t want to be that out-of-place guest that is just really excited to be here – even if in reality that’s exactly what I was.

Needless to say that with free snacks aplenty I totally forgot about my diet, and that with free drinks all round I quickly wound up quite tipsy, but I didn’t think that arriving home at 2:30am is all too bad – even if I had a bit of a fuzzy head at work the morning after…

So now to the present, a Friday evening (at least at the time of writing), and I’m actually typing up this blog post whilst sat on a train on my way up to cloudy Asturias! Once again I’m going to spend the weekend in Oviedo and it’s surrounding area with Kevin, in what promises to be if nothing else a welcome bit or respite from the sauna that the capital has become.

As usual I’ve not really been told much of what Kevin’s got planned for us, but I do know that we’ll be having some cheeky beverages and visiting the coast tomorrow at some point – after just a week of Madrid summer weather I am 100% ready to just throw myself into the sea!

As I pass now through the mountains which separate Asturias from the rest of Spain, and as the landscape turns from clear skies and scorched earth to scattered showers and lush greenery, it’s time for me to sign off from this monstrously large blog post. I’ll try to keep the next one a bit shorter, but knowing what my weekends in the north are always like, I’m sure I’ll be returning with plenty of photos and stories to share.

Until then, enjoy this terrible cover by Westlife from my childhood, or if you’re a traditionalist, a more original version. I’ll be back soon, and probably a good few pounds heavier…