Elegant city without pretention or ostentation
Madrid is artistic. Its elegant, stylish and colourful. Sometimes it verges on the tacky. It lacks the pretentiousness of Paris and the ostentatiousness of London.
The beautiful tiling of Madrid’s bars and cafes
You can see Madrid’s colourful artistic side in the beautiful tiling of its bars and cafes.
That bright light
What is always stunning about Madrid is the light. The light is bright and white and creates iridescent colours. Perhaps this is why Madrid is so colourful. How could you not want to be.
In this way, the most mundane looking objects can be viewed as works of art.
The colourful fireworks of Madrid’s locksmiths
Madrid’s locksmiths have a neat way of making themselves known. All over the city you can find these little flocks of stickers advertising their services, always in different colours.
Sexy, cool, fashionable and street
Like any capital city Madrid’s centre has a flavour, which combines penthouse with pavement.
Food and wine in Madrid
Its not bad.
They have alot of impressive fish markets.
The Spanish tend to only eat Spanish, though they’ll hate you for saying that. They have their own dishes. Alot of them are simple and focus on quality. However some of them are peculiar and well worth trying.
And there’s nothing as enticing as the illuminated window of a Spanish delicatessen.
One of my favourite things to do in Madrid is to walk along Madrid Rio. About ten years ago the mayor of Madrid decided to put this dirty big dual carriageway, which ran either side of the city’s river, underground. On top of the road he built a pedestrianised pathway, with lots of parks, sculptures and play areas. Marvellous.
At a certain point you can cut off into a park called Huerta de la Partida and get a view of the royal palace of Madrid.
If you walk along the length of Madrid Rio, towards the South you will also find a variety of very funky modern looking bridges, which have been built across the river. Many of them are real spectacles. They’ve been making the tourist guides – I remember a Norwegian man once approaching me with his reluctant looking family, trying to work out which way one of the bridges was.
There’s a very old fashioned restaurant not too far away on the northern stretch of the Madrid Rio. The interior is fantastic and the waiters are all old boys. The food is OK, roast chicken, which if the truth be told I always find a bit dry, cider, salad and cheese.
You can park on Calle Aniceto Marinas, where if you’re lucky you’ll see the Alsatian dog, who is immortalised in street art, on the doors of the garage Talleres Ribercar. From there you can walk along Madrid Rio, then come back for a bite at Casa Mingo.
El Cemetario de Almudena
Another fairly offbeat place I like is the Almudena Cemetery. Its a fairly austere place, but bewildering in size.
The buildings are ugly. I’m not sure when they were built, but to me they reek of fascism.
When I visited in 2019, some squatters had taken one of the big buildings outside.
El Parque del Gran Retiro
El Retiro is Madrid’s greatest cultivated park.
You’re probably not into late nineteenth century Spanish literature, but one of its greatest figures Pio Baroja, has a great statue of his own, at one of the entrances.
The bear is Madrid’s animal and El Madroño is its tree. Madrileños tell me you wont find El Madroño anywhere else.
There’s a neat looking souvenir shop, that tries to do everything a little differently, which has a couple of decent t-shirts, spinning off the bear theme.
The old Madrileñan street plates
I love coming across these metallic street plates in Madrid. I think they’re awarded to shops that have been open for a certain length of time.
The old Madrileñas have style
Older women in Spain do not go out without a fight. Many of them comport themselves, hold themselves and have haircuts befitting of a Queen.
The white taxi cabs
The white taxi cabs with a red stripe look like a South American football shirt on wheels.
Madrid is a pleasant blend of classical architectural styles and modernism. The way in which things are blended in and proportioned is effortless.
These three buildings, which are all north-west of the centre of Madrid, all share a certain ugliness. They are at the same time modernist, highly fashionable and desperately ugly. They are perhaps inspired by the brutalist architectural style, which was fashionable in western Europe at the time. I imagine that they were all built in the 1960s or 70s.
Close to the centre of Madrid there is a suburb full of these rather charming little detached homesteads. They are almost like the kind of houses Roger Hargreaves fashioned for his Mr Men characters. They are elegant, though simple and basic in form. They have the sense of being perfectly proportioned and adapted to man’s need for personal space.
There’s not a lot to say about Ignatius other than he’s a sight to see. He’s a comedian, I suppose, though I find him more cerebral than funny, and if anything a little bit sad, too. I just can’t get this poster out of my mind.
David Beckham and Gareth Bale
They both made it to Madrid, as you might know.
Madrid from a Distance