I’m known in my circle of friends for my lack of planning, much preferring a dash of spontaneity than committing weeks ahead. This last-minuteness even drills down to my travels; so much so that late last month I messaged my bud N who lives in Madrid on the Tuesday if she would be around if I swung by on the weekend for five days (the perks of freelancing). Thankfully her response was ‘sie’.
I’m not sure where my inability to commit to any future plans has come from because I don’t think I used to suffer from this. So given my last-minute escape, even as the weekend approached, I was still arranging the hotels I’d be laying my head at and plotting adventures for in the Spanish capital.
I’ve previously sang loudly about my love for Madrid (and what to do in the city), which I’ve now lapped up three times. I much prefer it to Barcelona, which tends to hog the limelight, but that might be because not only was I there for work but I managed to be gripped by a severe bout of food poisoning for two days, and was constantly harassed with phone calls by the PR who’d organised for me to be there (and when you’ve not slept during the night, I just wanted the throttle this bloody woman).
Retiro Park: where I cycled, jogged, walked and devoured an ice-cream
I’m scribing a piece for Elle’s travel section on what to do in this super cool city, which is graced with enough galleries, museums, plazas, parks and tapas joints that you’ll be wishing that your boss called you on the Sunday and said ‘don’t come in on Monday’, so you could extend your two-day city break, because Madrid deserves so much more of your time.
This being my third visit to Madrid, I didn’t need to stomp the museums (as glorious as they are); I could pace myself and live as a local. For me that included a cycle, jog and walk around wonderful Retiro Park, and a return visit to the extraordinary blissful candle-lit, steamy Hammam Alandalus Madrid (Calle de Atocha, 14, 28012; 34 914 29 90 20). These Arab baths transport you away from the bustling city and underground into an oasis where the only noise you hear is running water.
And damn I bloody loved a visit to the magical Opera House for the premiere of El Publico, which attracted well-heeled Madrileños (think an entire fox around their shoulders), and perching up at tapas bars and getting rather tipsy at the most authentic sherry bar with K.
Shopping at a flea market
One evening I stayed in Madrid’s luxury quarter Salamanca, also home to fashion’s crème of the crème (think Manolo Blahnik and Miu Miu), but I shooed these in favour of browsing Zadig and Voltaire, cool trainer brand Ash, and Comptoir des Cononniers. I also stumbled across such a beautifully designed & Another Stories; so vast was it that I managed to get lost. On a one-level shop.
The jaunt made me hungry for another European city break. Maybe I’ll need to get booking that trip to The Hague pronto, K?
Still, it ain’t so far till June when C and I dance will be dancing away at Primarvera festival in Porto and then succumbing to relaxation for two days at the city’s super stylish spa and wine hotel, The Yeatman Hotel.
As soon as that article is live on Elle, I’ll swing up another blog post.
Me and Niki perched at yet another tavern