December in Madrid – A Photo Diary

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Nooooooooo! My short-lived blogging streak! Not a single post in two weeks. I did my best but things are busy this time of year, you know? Lots of work and lots of moving around. I’m also a Master Procrastinator. At least I’m always snap happy with my phone, taking pictures of almost anything to the point where half of it loses meaning. I left the battery to my digital camera (I could also use a new one of those, an Olympus Pen, Santa?!) in Dublin so I had to do without for a while, but we’re finally reunited! For now, here are small snapshots of my trip to Madrid last week, condensed and collaged.

Well, some of the trip. We spent time with a lot of people, being social and that. We spent time with Iñaki’s friends and his family, my friend Vega and her boyfriend. None of this was photographed for obvious reasons…I forgot! Too busy chatting and keeping the phone in my bag. I also feel my brain has to concentrate harder when listening to the wonderful Argentinian accent. The only regret I have is not taking pictures of the amazing meal Iñaki’s Mam made for us all. It was dazzling! Cheeses, meats, milanesa, potatoes, Argentinean desserts, champagne, all the good stuff. Maybe next time, as the world needs to see her awesome cooking. I still have plenty of Granada to share too (with recommendations, of course) but that’s another job for another day.

“Another job for another day!” Definitely sounds like something the Master Procrastinator would say. I need a cape!

Meh. I’ll get one tomorrow.

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Top left, clockwise:
1. A welcome drink after Iñaki picked me up from the bus station. We did not eat the potatoes, we were saving ourselves for dinner! 2. The bar at Gambrinus, Cuzco. 3. Steak on the very rare side (needed) with foie and port sauce at La Tagliatella, Cuzco. Ravioli in rustic sauce at the back for him. 4. La Tagliatella, Cuzco. Complete with palm trees. I feel like this franchise owes me shares by now. I’d gladly be their spokesperson for free steak and pizza. Call me! 

The Granada to Madrid trip was painless; enjoyable actually. I went by Alsa Premium instead of flying. A luxury bus service with food, drink, movies, WIFI, newspapers, good coffee, comfortable seats, a clean toilet, earphones, the works. I chose this over flying domestically as the bus station is a lot closer and I wouldn’t have to bother myself with checking in an hour before, etc. Definitely a worthwhile service if you’re travelling within Spain on a long journey.

This journey was four hours and I felt none of it. Go ALSA. They have other bus service types too, depending on preference & budget. I used their Supra Economy service to Malaga Airport last week, for example. Still as comfortable but not with as many bells and whistles, which you really don’t need for a 1.5 hour bus journey.

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Top left, clockwise:
1., 2., 4.  La Central bookstore, Callao. I didn’t know it was so big. I’ve been before but never went to the very top. It’s got a store with cool stuff, a cafe where they serve brunch, lunch, breakfast, coffee, etc. (it’s all very hipstery, of course!) and has floors and floors of delicious smelling books. We went to try and start some Christmas shopping. I whispered the whole way through. Anyone else whisper in bookstores?! It’s a habit I can’t shake. 3. Cheerful red cups, because why not. After a few hours of work on Friday it was time to shut down the laptop and head for the hills! We grabbed some fudge hot chocolates from Starbucks for our walk into Madrid centre. I’m not a major Starbucks fan. Their normal standard coffees are beyond awful, but their holiday drinks are nostalgic, and a tradition held dear by my best friend and I. We’ve been getting them together for 10 years, which makes me feel old!
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Top left, clockwise:
1. Nachos (among other things not pictured) from my favourite Madrid Mexican, La Mordida. 2. Cosy with Mexican food and cava for The Late Late Toy Show. It streamed perfectly! I felt he flew through the toys and it was all very rushed but we enjoyed it anyway. It was nice to watch it with someone who had no idea what to expect. Apart from toys, obviously. 3. Churros of all delicious kinds to eat during El Clásico at Iñaki’s brother’s house. The chocolate dipped ones at the back and the dulce de leche ones were the best! 4. The orange blossom tree at Rituals. It’s obviously fake but no less fabulous! My Rituals obsession is growing by the day, and my apartment is littered with their swoony stuff. 

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Top left, clockwise:
Mercado de San Miguel. One of three food markets in Madrid and probably my 
favourite of the three. 2. A beer at Mercado de San Miguel. I can’t remember what it was. It was super malty and not very nice. We decided to go to San Miguel before meeting my friend Vega as our time as the Christmas markets wasn’t long at all. Intentionally! However, our time enjoying the Christmas lights and taking neat pics was longer and better spent. 3. The square lit up with Christmas lights. 4. Nativity bits and pieces at one of the Christmas market stalls in the square. Easily the worst Christmas market ever, and everything in the stalls was the same, figurines or hats. Don’t go! Wow, I sound really awful in the last few comments. Just being honest you guys…I have to write about the good with the bad. 

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Top left, clockwise:
1. More pointless Christmas market crap. 2. Los Gatos bar, where we had breakfast before the Reina Sofia museum on Sunday. I had an empanada! 3. Even though they had nothing of use inside, the stalls looked pretty cute. Red and lit up and shiny. 4. An amazing gift from Vega, orange gin with my name on it! EMMA is a recently launched gin company with a few different flavours and I’m looking forward to trying this. I love the hashtag too; #yosoyEmma. That’s ME! 

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Top left, clockwise:
1. The pretty Christmas tree at Sol. It’s huge. People were queuing to get inside the tree and take pictures. 2. A bar we stopped in after our afternoon at the Reina Sofia to continue our croqueta tradition. 3. The hallways of Reina Sofia. 4. Alfajor leftovers from the dinner at Iñaki’s parents house. A huge helping of dulce de leche sandwiched between two biscuits and covered in icing sugar. An absolute sugar overload. I think my eyelid twitched for 10 minutes after and I had more energy than I knew what to do with. Legal crack, basically. 

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All of the above images are from Reina Sofia. We went on Sunday and admission happened to be free! It was a super rainy day so our plan to go to a museum worked out well. I was excited to see real Picasso and Dalí paintings in the flesh and they delivered. The Guernica was incredible and delightfully weird and HUGE! I wasn’t expecting it to be so massive. I also saw Dalí’s Girl at the Window and Ángeles Santos Torroella’s Un Mundo, both amazing and surreal. Reina Sofia is such a fantastic museum. I think in comparison to Prado, for me, it wins by a hair.

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Top left, clockwise:
1. Weird…peach flavoured Fanta at Nigiri. I bought it purely out of curiosity. It wasn’t bad at all! 2. Morcilla and chorizo at Parrilla El Gaucho. It’s a delight for carnivores, with so many kinds of meat piled high on a giant grill. We had a quick lunch there with their special – 1 drink, salad, starter, main course and dessert for €13.50 each. 3. A very Zebra looking coffee at McCafe. I needed a quick pre-museum fix. 4. Our main course at El Gaucho, we both ordered the same. Cuadril (rump steak) Eaten with lots of chimichurri of course. 

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All the above images are of Granada, what I saw when I arrived home after another pleasant ALSA trip. I watched Como Conocí a Vuestra Madre (How I Met Your Mother) the whole way and the hours passed in no time at all. The Granada Christmas lights must have gone up some time while I was away. The place looks extra pretty, don’t you think? All in all, another fun trip. It’s great to have the best of both cities.

♥ ♥ ♥

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