VORLD / MADRID
Long time no travel posts! The blog has been quiet the past month as I was in the midst of uni deadlines, a new job and preparing for new adventures to come (soon!). I was super glad my friend had convinced me to book a 4 day getaway to Madrid back in winter, a short break that was greatly appreciated.
If you do decide to travel to Madrid any time soon, you should be aware of the fact that the city runs on its own clock. Although, there's just one hour time difference to London, we felt like we were battling an everlasting jet lag, inflicted on us by the very very different time schedule the Spanish live by! Breakfast at 8AM is followed by a morning of work, a lunch break / siesta from 12PM to 4PM in the afternoon, more work until 8PM, followed by pinchos and drinks to unwind from the stressful working day, dinner around 10PM and another round of drinks until 2AM. After 2 failed attempts we finally gave up on the last night, when we had to admit to ourselves that as Northern Europeans (or shall I say 'ex-Europeans'?) we might not have what it takes to live la vida loca. Nevertheless, it was such an invigorating feeling to see the city come alive by night and go absolutely dead in the afternoon, when we felt the most awake.
What follows is a visual diary of our trip, which had me inspired as fu** (excuse the language!) - we were absolutely amazed by the creativity, boldness and sunshine (both literally and metaphorically) of the city and I'm super excited to share some of our discoveries with you!
LA LATINA //
El mercado de San Miguel
La Latina is the oldest area of Madrid with the famous Plaza Mayor in its center and many small alleys with boutiques and restaurants just waiting to be discovered. A great way to start our trip was a visit to Mercado de San Miguel for tapas and Sangría. Make sure to try freshly made croquetas (mashed potato croquettes filled with cheese, spinach or ham) and the coconut macaroons as a sweet treat.
Espadrilles à la carte
LOBO is a Madrid institution and unlike any shoe shop I have ever seen. When we went there the first time, we could barely enter the store as it was completely crowded with Spanish parents, children, grannies and tourists, directing the sales assistants and buying the colourful braided straw shoes in bulk. All shoes are manufactured in Spain and really affordable - I'm talking 20Euro max. per pair!
Spanish pastry heaven at La Mallorquina
For the best Spanish pastries in town (according to my auntie and cousin, whose opinion can be trusted) go to La Mallorquina at la Puerta del Sol, which unites tourists and locals over coffee, gossip and animated conversations.
Moving on, FABRIC STORES. In capitals, because we were simply amazed by the colourful sewing palaces that are found near la Puerta del Sol. The coolest thing about visiting a fabric store in Spain? Every store we entered was super busy and packed with people, young AND old!
Made in China meets antique treasures
Taking place every Sunday, el Rastro must be one of the first recommendations that comes up in any Madrid travel guide. While, the main part of the market is largely filled with cheap counterfeit handbags and band t-shirts from Asia, you can find real treasures when entering the small antique stores in the side streets of the market.
Chueca is definitely the place to come if you want to spend a cliche girls day of boutique shopping, lunch at organic hipster cafés (we went to El Huerto de Lucas) and making up for your shameless celebration of consumer culture by visiting some of the independent art galleries around.
...More epic pastries at la Duquesita
La Duquesita is another café bursting of heritage, which was taken over by Spanish Michelin star chef Oriol Balaguer last year.
When visual merchandising is on fleek, seriously!
Our flat was located in Malasaña, an area of Madrid that I had fallen in love with when I first visited the city three years ago. Malasaña is a crazy and young place, with loads of restaurants, bars and vintage stores. The best thing about this part of town? The people! I received my first love poem by a charming homeless man, who then went on to recite his work of art to us in complete perfection.
El mercado de San Antón
Visit this market hall to get a completely sensual experience of Spanish food and produce. It's a bit touristy, a bit overpriced, but, the roof top bar makes it worth a visit!
When Dover Street Market suddenly seems like French Connection
I don't mean to be rude, but, fashion peeps in Britain can seriously learn from Spanish interior design and visual merchandising! We were completely blown away by the wealth of new, innovative concept stores and boutiques in Madrid like Amen in Malasaña - the best thing about them? You can tell that the Spanish haven't lost their enthusiasm, fun and vibrancy when it comes to fashion, something that I feel is disappearing in a sea of minimalist, wannabe Scandinavian London retail concepts.
Triángulo del Arte de Madrid
Upon the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Reina Sofía museum is one of my favourites as it shows a wealth of surrealist artists' works, as well as Pablo Picasso's celebrated Guernica painting and my personal favourite, Dalí's 'figura en una finestra' oil painting of his sister Anna Maria looking out of the window. The courtyard at the center of the museum is absolutely beautiful and the perfect place to take a break from the heat and buzz of the city.
...And then there's street art
The whole city is covered in a mixture of graffiti and street art which forms a brilliant contrast to its clean and immaculate art museums. My favourite type of art? One that's not actually meant to be art in the first place! It reveals the different layers, old and new, that create a one of a kind image of the city and make you fantasise about its history and future.
Caixa Forum is an art museum meets cultural center meets conference venue in the heart of the city. We were mesmerised by the architecture of the building which was built from the remains of an old power station and created by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron (who also designed the new Tate Modern museum!). The vertical forest plant wall forms the perfect contrast to the industrial feel of the main building, a reference to the botanic garden which is just around the corner.
Malasaña nights and dinner at la Pescadería
We returned to our beloved Malasaña yet again for drinks and seafood at la Pescadería. We ordered their pan fried chipriones (baby squid) and sea bream ceviche, which were absolutely delicious!
Have you fallen in love with Madrid yet? I have, completely, utterly, head over heels! The city offers everything you could wish for for a city trip, great food, amazing art and fashion, friendly people and an atmosphere that makes you love and appreciate living... in the moment!
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