Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Excited to move to Malasaña, Madrid

I’ve done it, having picked up my keys last Monday, today I moved to Madrid.

I found a man with a van – Colin –originally from just outside of Edinburgh and did the 5-hour van ride to Madrid.

We’re bang in the centre of Madrid, just above a Gay bar and witnessed ladies of the night, or day I guess, fighting over their turf on our doorstep as we unloaded.

I’m excited to unpack, bamboozled as to how we’ve accumulated so much stuff in just 18 months, but happy to have a place for my collection of cocktail glasses, a booze cabinet and so many bookshelves to fill.

A few months ago, I was regretting having committed to this move – city living had lost its lustre as the pandemic was devastating urban communities. The reason I chose Madrid was to have a base from which to work and travel. Being 20 minutes from a major international airport was a massive plus, as I was travelling once a week, and for a cocktail lover having world class bars on my doorstep was also a big part of the appeal, I wanted to once again be an active part of a vibrant drinks scene. My husband needed somewhere to play live, making music at home and teaching is all very well but as a musician you crave that live experience and Madrid had opportunities for him to jam or play almost every night of the week.

But a few months of island life and all of a sudden proximity to the beach and sea and the ability to jump in a pool after work started to feel more important than an airport, I may not have cause to use again for a while. And being close to bars is great but what if they don’t or can’t reopen?

Will Madrid still be the city we fell in love with after being so devastated by COVID?

My first few days in Madrid give me cause for optimism. We’ve sat outside neighbourhood bars and enjoyed a drink in the sun. I’ve heard that sexy sound of the hard shake from a basement cocktail bar minutes from home, that is open but a lot quieter than I remember. And one of the best cocktail bars in Madrid is literally a 7-minute walk from our front door, and is open.

Craft beer from Madrid at a bar in Ojala in Malasana

I didn’t think I’d be comfortable taking a shared office in this city, but it took me less than 24 hours to realise us both working from home would not work. I found a place 3 minutes from home, with a private office – not open-plan – and a big terrace with great views. I’m all about the views now.

We’ve yet to see if music venues can reopen in the way they did before but have seen plenty of promos showcasing Madrid as a music capital which gives us hope that there is a plan to do so.

I’m still not sure what life looks like work wise for the foreseeable and if I’ll need to travel for work anytime soon (aside from Slovenia). But being based in Madrid still gives me that central base of operations from which to explore, perhaps more for fun than for work for this year at least.

Madrid has great international connections (normally!), I am pretty much 2 hours from anywhere I’d want to be in Europe. With a major airport and rail network on my doorstep, I hope to take some cheeky weekend breaks to visit wine regions across Spain and Portugal. As travel becomes easier again and when the pandemic is under better control, I’ll venture a little further afield like Georgia, Chile and Argentina.

When work is less busy, we may take a break in Cadiz and see if that is somewhere, we may wish to explore living in the future. In an ideal world, we’d have a summer/weekend retreat by the sea to escape the heat of the city in summer (currently 37 degrees/98 degrees) and a city crash pad to keep connected. But right now, it’s a choice and we’ve chosen city living.

Madrid is one of the few capitals, perhaps Lisbon is another, where people, normal people, can actually live right in the thick of the action.

I’m a city girl at heart and while I love the outdoors, I also love the rush of a bustling city.

For pretty much the same as what we paid in London for a one bed place with no outdoor space, 40 minutes out of town, in a very grown up neighbourhood that made me feel slightly too childless and chavvy to live there – we have a central 2 bed flat with a terrace.

We’re just a street away from Gran Via (kinda like Oxford Street I guess) in Malasaña and are in the heart of a scene. I’d never be able to afford to live in London’s equivalent which I imagine would be Soho but for much the same as I paid to live in the burbs of London, I’m in the centre of the action. I’m excited to explore and make friends.

If the dream goes to plan, Lee will be playing live several nights a week, I’ll run in the Retiro park before work and be able to enjoy exquisite cocktails at weekends and explore all manner of galleries, exhibitions and cultural happenings a capital affords or decide to jump on a plane or train and visit somewhere fun.

So, did I mention, we have a spare room and are 20 minutes from the airport? When the world calms down and travel is recommended again, come pay us a visit, you are all welcome!


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