Madrid I: bricks and mortar

When Florian announced he had the chance to go to Madrid for work, “mini-break” bells rang in my head. So, two weeks ago, after safely depositing our boy with my parents, I flew over for 48 hours of sunshine, strong coffee, and tapas. We stayed in Sol, close to Madrid’s main square (Plaza Mayor, part of which pictured directly below). As I wasn’t going to be there long, and with Florian working for some of the time, we didn’t bother with the main tourist sights, the Museo Reina Sophia being the exception. Instead, we simply walked and talked, and ate and drank wherever our fancy took us. Florian reminisced and showed me a few of his old haunts from his previous life in the city, and I spent a lot of time looking up, admiring the buildings, their pretty windows and balconies. Here’s our Madrid part I, the bricks and mortar…

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Balconies… as you can see, I just couldn’t get enough of them. Plain ones, fancy ones, semi-fancy ones, glass encased ones. I also fell in love with yellow facades. Strange, as I detest yellow inside a home as a rule, which I put down to having lived in too many badly decorated rentals. I particularly hate that awful ‘Birds’ custard shade of yellow (less so Waitrose’s Seriously Creamy Madagascan Vanilla Custard which I can easily trick myself into thinking is white). But it seems I like a bit of yellow masonry paint.

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And how’s this for a bit of ‘nature on the home’. This green wall, designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc, is at CaixaForum Madrid, I’m sure they grew grass up the side of the London Southbank Centre once but I can’t find any trace of it on the internet, so I guess I was imagining it… this would be cool if you lived in an end terrace.

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And finally, the old and new at the Reina Sofia. The main part of the museum is housed in an 18th century hospital with massive wings of beautiful colonnades looking out to a central courtyard garden. The new bit involves lots of glass and steel. Part of the lofty extension, pictured below, houses the library and the cafe/restaurant, which is a spacious meeting place full of communal seating areas. Sadly, it was quite empty and hence very quiet, a far call from what I suspect the designers envisaged would be a hub of creative discussions, business meetings and the like when it was built in the early 2000s. It may have been the timing (a Thursday, before lunch, in April) but it was hard not to make a connection with the country’s financial crisis. Actually, the general emptiness of Madrid’s bars and cafes (very touristy places aside) was quite profound.

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