Due to COVID-19 I moved to Madrid three months later than planned at the end of June, and was only there a month before a three-week trip to the U.K. became 5 months on the road where I ending up riding my luck to avoid lockdowns.
The confinement of the city of Madrid was lifted a few days ago and today after a fairly convoluted route home via Mexico and New York, I’m finally flying home to Madrid, I’m excited to see my husband, to start/restart my new/old life. There have been a fair few adventures along the way but I’ve been too busy working or collecting stories to fully write them up so I will endeavour to fill in the blanks over the coming weeks during the holiday break.
Once I’m finally home, I plan to stay there for a while this time – famous last words I know! After missing almost all of the second COVID-19 wave (and the entire of the home confinement lockdown in Spain from the first wave, my husband will probably remind me), the situation in Madrid seems a lot better and it sounds like it’ll be one of the freer spots to live life.
My barometer as always is bars, which is my life, personally and professionally. Bars in Madrid are open (unlike London now – fuck Tier 3), you can actually sit inside (unlike New York – as of Monday this week outdoor dining only, drinks only with food and a snowstorm is due to hit, I mean FFS bars are not catching a break). Bars in Madrid close earlier than when I left, so out by 11pm (last orders 10pm), which for Madrid – where places normally rock until 5am most nights – is obscenely early. However, after experiencing the 7pm alcohol bans in Mexico City recently, and hearing about Wales banning pubs from even selling alcohol (I mean what is a pub that can’t sell booze! – this is now just prohibition by stealth) – it feels late enough, and during the holidays bars in Madrid will be open until 1:30am.
Tomorrow night, I’m looking forward to being able to grab a drink at Dry Bar 1862, arguable the best bar in Madrid, 5 mins from home, to check out Yeray Montforte’s new spot he’s opened up in Madrid while I’ve been away, Bad Company 1920, which seems to be spitting distance from my place and have a martini night cap at Del Diego, an old school classic cocktail spot – just a few minutes from home in the other direction.
I’m looking forward to exploring my new adopted city, the galleries and museums are open and I want to soak them all up.
I’m craving hearing Spanish every day and determined to improve my Spanish again, 1.5 hours a week of virtual lessons isn’t enough to keep my chops up, México helped but I know I need to work harder, work has just been busy. I’m so keen to get my office back, working remotely is cool and all, but having your private office – with a proper desk where everything is where you need it and reliable fast wifi – heaven! And then to be able to close the door and finish rather than working from a hotel room or living space, it’ll be good to get that separation and balance back.
I’m excited to start filling up the empty bookshelves in my new place. To build the record collection for our new record player, we finally invested in now that we’re staying somewhere for a while. I envisage spending lazy Sundays wandering around record stores in Lavapiés and Malasaña slowly expanding our collection and enjoying a traditional Sunday Vermut.
I might finally get that wine fridge I’ve had half an eye on since last Christmas and start filling it. I have space to build my drinks cabinet back up, I’ve got a few spoils from my last trip to get started and maybe I’ll rescue what’s left of my whisky collection when I can.
Having been in temporary spots since we left London two years ago to put down some roots again and make a place a home will be cool.
I’m keen to keep an eye out for art to fill all the walls of our new place, to learn about some of the historical figures I stumble across on my wanders around my barrio like Manuela Malasaña – the female freedom fighter – that our barrio is named after. I want to learn more about Spanish history, art and literature – I’m especially keen to read more about Mujeres Libres.
I’m desperate to go running in the Retiro again and will find a local yoga class in Spanish to help me chill.
I left in summer and it’ll almost be Christmas by the time I’m home, there’s a Christmas tree up waiting for me! This will be my first Christmas away from family (Fuck COVID-19!) but also our first in Spain – and I do like firsts and experiencing how different cultures celebrate things.
I think we plan to have a very Spanish Christmas eve and a British Christmas Day and then a Spanish New Year, complete with the 12 grapes tradition and a fuck ton of Cava. Sadly, I think the Three Kings Parades will all be cancelled this year, but I’ll look to follow the other Epiphany traditions, like the good little Catholic girl that I am.
I’m excited to embrace Spanish life again, to forget about Brexit for a bit. To make some friends that I’ll actually see in person more than once in a blue moon, some of whom are hopefully Spanish.
When the rest of Spain calms down, I’d love to do a bunch of mini wine adventures around Spain and Portugal, under the guise of wine study naturally! There are so many wine regions within an hour or so of Madrid, we’re in a major transport hub and 15-20 minutes from the main station and airport.
And when international travel is easier again to have friends and family come and stay, and show them around all the best local spots in our new city with pride.
I’m excited to be headed home, it’s been a long time!