Madrid: Life so far, Part 1

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Last Tuesday marked my second month (and a week!) here in Madrid. And oh, the pangs of guilt I’ve experienced for not writing a thing about it! My own Mother even asked me this week what was going on with my writing, and if that doesn’t push me to do it, nothing will. By the way, Hi MOM! *waves*

Well, it’s not entirely true that I’ve written nada about my time here. I mean, there’s been stuff both here and here, but not *here*. Ya feel? But it has been in the back of my mind since I got here, as I used to write consistently on this blog when I first started a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did. I’m happy to say I’ve got a digital scrapbook of memories, some of which I shamefully would have forgotten about if it wasn’t for a post here – and I’d like to keep it that way. So I need to quit being lazy and become committed. It’s not the days we remember, it’s the moments, right?
I realise it’s no excuse, but when you live right in the centre of a city where there’s always something going on or somebody to meet, my laptop (namely WordPress) is relegated to the back burner when I’m finished a days work.
Thankfully I have an annoying habit of taking pictures of just about anything, so I have all sorts of images from the last two months*. Not of every day of course, but a good chunk of my time here so far. Sure, a lot will be repeated from Instagram, but with a little bit more elaboration. I tend to take pictures of food, buildings…you know yourself; whatever catches the eye. When I’m out with Spanish friends it’s rare I even use my phone, but there may be one or two thrown in there. This post will elaborate a little on the city, my neighbourhood and places I’ve visited and restaurants or bars I’ve eaten in so far, most of which I have really enjoyed.
Ojalá te gusten tanto como a mi! I hope you like them as much as I do!

* this is going to loonnggg, so I’ve made the decision to spread it across two posts (all the food is in post two!) in case your fingers get sore from scrolling. Or you fall asleep. Or you add me to your list of enemies.

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First things first, I love where I live. I live in Malasaña, which I find is the absolute best of both worlds here in Madrid. It’s a neighbourhood with plenty of character, and a prime spot for live music. Honestly, it still makes my head spin – in a good way. Yeah, Malasaña can be hipstery, but there are some real gems here and more than enough to do…and let’s be honest, these kind of neighbourhoods are where the hipsters hide the good coffee! There are bars and restaurants both old and new; wall to wall down each narrow street. I haven’t even scratched the surface of my own neighbourhood, let alone the city, and dare I admit I eat meals out every day, 1-2 daily. Again, HI MOM! *waves* She’s gonna love that line.
When I mentioned having the best of both worlds, I’m referring to how central Malasaña is for such a self contained little hub of Madrid. I’m no more than a five minute walk away from Gran Vía, Tribunal..and about 7 minutes from Sol and the Plaza Mayor. If you come to Madrid, stay in Malasaña for a not so touristy experience, but with access to everything touristy.

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I live here, here’s a tour of my home! Well, I’m only showing you the sitting room, just in case you try stalk me (notions)
Its central and modern and I’m lucky to say quite big as far as some apartments go. Each room has a high ceiling, my favourite part about it all. I hang my clothes out to dry in the interior square in the sunshine and I feel totally foreign. I live with two very lovely Spanish girls who sometimes like to fry octopus for dinner, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the smell. I find the sight of a rubbery purple carcass jumping around in the pan rather soothing. One of them makes a mean sponge cake, or in Spanish, bizcocho. I wish I could take credit for the picture perfect palace we live in, but it was all done by the two girls, and I just waltzed in and joined the party. So, yep. that is my home!


Malasaña

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Here are some shots I took of Malasaña when I first arrived. The neighbourhood always has something going on, music, theatre, art. This is my street and a few others, but there are plenty more I have uncovered since. We have a couple of squares, the main one being Plaza del Dos de Mayo where there’s plenty of entertainment and live music, as I’ve mentioned before. Malasaña is good for that, it really is.

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Clockwise, top left. 1.) Tiles at Steakburger.
2.) McDonalds breakfast after a very boring morning of bank account stuff.
3.) Reading on a viciously rainy day where my street morphed into a river for a whole week, and the thought of going anywhere seemed impossible. Well, totally possible but I didn’t have wellies, or rain gear. I packed for summer.
4.) All the crisps in the world for patrons at a local bar to go perfectly with their vermouth, cañas, and conversation.

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1.) A building on my street I always stop and look at. I love everything about it, from the windows to the balconies to the detailing. No other house on the street looks like it.
2.) Unfortunately, ‘Burrito’s’ is a very poor place to eat. Do not go there, unless you like your burritos to resemble burritos in no way whatsoever, and you like them to look and taste like a wrap from the deli counter. I had one drunk, and didn’t like it then, so God help the sober.
3.) Bottom left is me dressing appropriately for a heatwave in Madrid (in my defence, both garments are light cotton)
4.) A caña (small beer) and an empanada in Bar Linda on a Sunday afternoon. A small bar on Calle de las Infantas where I got on really well with the owner (Julio from Argentina) and I stop by when I can to say hello.

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1.) ‘Casa Camocho’ in Malasaña. A bar where you can try a famous ‘yayo’. It’s a very inexpensive drink made from gin, vermouth and casera (a brand here in Spain of lemonade, like 7-UP) the bar made the concoction famous many moons ago and it’s a rite of passage to try one. It’s popular with both locals and tourists, and sometimes there’s a queue to get in on the weekends. I find yayos taste like Christmas pudding if Christmas pudding was a drink, but that’s just me. You have to try it for yourself!
2.) Coffee in Caffee Bianchi on Calle de San Joaquín is one of my favourite spots to get coffee. It’s not my number one choice but probably my second or third. Small cute space, really good coffee, friendly barista but be warned – they don’t take cards. Bring cash!
3.) Malasaña is very much ‘a la mode’ with other cities, so naturally, it’s wild about brunch. My best friend came to visit and he went for the brunch menu at Maricastaña. This was his second course from a €20 brunch menu of coffee, juice, freshly baked bread with tomato and olive oil, poached eggs with ham, and this plate of cheeses, pancakes yoghurt and fruit. Others in the area do something similar with a cocktail for a smaller portion for about €10.
4.) Apologies that this image is basically DARKNESS. It’s two pints of Guinness at Bodega de la Ardosa. They are known for ‘the best tortilla’ and it is good, but I have since discovered better which I will share later on in this post. The Guinness here is fine but the taste is a little weak. You’re better off going to Triskel, the Irish bar down the road if you’re on the hunt for good Guinness abroad.

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1.) A beautiful cup of coffee from my favourite cafe in Malasaña, Bico. They looooove making coffee and each one is perfect, and only costs €1.80. My number one stop for coffee in the city. I get them in the morning or on a break from work…on the weekend when I wake up; you get the idea.
2.) Eye catching art by Ricardo Cavolo just off Calle Fuencarral.
3.)  Picking up some morning coffee and freshly baked croissant at La Bicicleta. A great spot with big wooden tables for bringing your laptop and doing some work. Plenty of plugs and space, good coffee and internet. Good cocktails and food in the evening.
4.) The sun sets on Calle Valverde.

The last image is the take away Bico cup. It gets it’s own independent image because Bico is great. Come tell me when you’ve tried it. All hail Bico!

 

Parque del Retiro

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“There’s more than one park in Madrid, Emma.” YES, I am aware. This was said to me by a friend who knows I go to Parque del Retiro an awful lot! I go because I adore it. Not that a reason is necessary. It’s beautiful, it’s surrounded by some of the prettiest neighbourhoods in Madrid (I’m looking at you, Salamanca) it’s overlooked by a beautiful cathedral (Benedicto) there are loads of fountains and statues within the park. One entrance/exit takes you out onto the street and right toward Museo del Prado.Will I go on?
There’s an art gallery, a rose garden and the famous boating lake. In fact, the very last shot to the bottom left, I’m on that very lake. Hire a boat! For 45 minutes, it’ll cost you €6 midweek, €8 on weekends. Not per person, per boat.
Retiro is amazing for a long leisurely walk, a picnic, lying on the grass, going for a run, watching performers, having a drink, discovering something new…I was so excited when I looked closely at the water near the rose gardens and saw turtles swimming all over the lake. It’s honestly something I have never experienced before, and this is one of the reasons why I adore the park. Need I say more? I actually mentioned it briefly in an old post here. How much things have changed since then.

That’s it for now. There’s so much to cover, I need to do it bit by bit, or you’ll be scrolling for eternity. Next post, what to eat and what to drink!

Hasta pronto,

Emma
x

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One thought on “Madrid: Life so far, Part 1

  1. Blankyta says:

    Thank you for writing again!! We missed your posts! 😀 It was a very beautiful article, I liked it a lot. Enjoy in Madrid because you deserve it! Besitos guapa xxx

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