Hello – apologies for the radio silence, it has been a huge few weeks over here after very sad news about one of Blake’s best friends and someone who was also very dear to my heart who recently passed away. It has been hard few weeks, grieving for our dear friend and dealing with such a loss from so far away. We have been trying to share our best and funniest stories and memories of Brett, praying for him and his family and keeping him and his spirit in our thoughts as always. He was a good man and his passing is certainly being felt amongst his friends and family. I’ve got a post planned to talk about the wonderful, genuine man that he was, as well as a little bit of information about the illness that he suffered from that needs to be spoken about more, but I need a few weeks to work on that one…
So for now, I’ll keep things lighter and share Part One of a recent last-minute adventure we took to Madrid for the August long-weekend, because basically we are the luckiest humans on the planet!!!! Landing in Madrid was yet another reminder of what a brilliant idea it was to move over here. London to Madrid in 2 hours? Yes please!
One of our beloved family-friends from Australia is currently in Madrid rehearsing the cast and band of the Spanish production of ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’. We were planning to pop over and visit him at some stage whilst he was there but weren’t sure when we would be able to make it happen. To our great surprise and excitement, our friends very generously offered to fly us over as an engagement present (again, are we not the luckiest people on the planet?!) and we got to spend the weekend chatting and laughing, exploring Madrid and catching up.
Considering I have spent many an hour in the classroom learning Spanish, I was also pretty pumped to spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country, although I was a little scared I had lost a lot of vocab after a couple of years of no longer studying it… I brushed up the days leading up to our departure and thankfully although I was a little rusty at first I got back into it pretty quickly and managed to more or less freely converse with everyone we came into contact with across the three days.
Our first stop after landing was at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalá, to meet our friend and watch his Priscilla rehearsals for a couple of hours. It was bizarre walking into a rehearsal room with everyone speaking and singing in Spanish, with huge kookaburra props being wheleed in and out, references to Darwin and Uluru… Spain and Australia juxtaposed in a pretty crazy way! After rehearsal Blake and I waited for a little while in an empty room with a piano and a score… I was in heaven. Sadly my piano skills have not stood the test of time, but I clunked my way through a couple of songs before we departed for the afternoon.
After a bit of a grocery shop (did you know it is really hard to find cordial in Madrid? Fun fact.), we headed to his apartment and hung out there catching up on our respective lives and hearing about his take on Spain so far. After a little while Blake and I walked across to the National Library of Spain to have a wander and get a feel for the city.
We came across a series of incredible series of sculptures and monuments. The sun was blazing hot, 31+ degrees, and there wasn’t much escape from the heat out here so we flitted around and took some photos before seeking refuge in the nearby library.
Our immediate impressions of Madrid were that it felt like a cross between Rome and London, with the best bits of both and without the worst bits! The streets are wide and ornately decorated but they feel safe, free of clutter and chaos. It is well-kept and space is nicely manicured, yet it doesn’t feel clinical or boring at all. There is interesting architecture between beautiful old Spanish buildings, lots of greenery and trees and it feels old and important. It’s quite a majestic city, but not in your face at all… We felt entirely comfortable walking around without a map and not really sure of where we were most of the time.
We were pretty tired from a 5am departure and a big day so spent the evening chatting and catching up with family, dining from the local sushi place…. mmmmm good sushi… A strange London thing we’ve noticed is that it’s quite hard to find delicious sushi. Who knew, Madrid trumps London for sushi.
The next morning Blake and I headed out early into central Madrid in search of authentic churros before jumping on a train out to the edge of the city to visit a royal palace. The metro system in Madrid is almost exactly the same as the tube, and we were amazed at the lack of people and ability to get a seat. Another plus for Madrid!
Beautiful alleyways are plentiful in Madrid, often with second hand book stalls, little old ladies selling knick knacks and people taking photos. Blake navigated us towards the famous Chocolatería San Ginés where we enjoyed incredible churros, chocolate and coffee. And Blake bought a postcard (?!).
I bring you poor quality iPhone photos of aforementioned churros…
After churros-ing to our hearts content we headed out to the fantastic Aranjuez, but that’s a story for the next blog post…