The life of a fashion, music and food fanatic on her Year Abroad in Madrid.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Madrid Heavies

During the 80's, Madrid gave birth to a counter cultural movement called La Movida Madrileña. After Franco died in 1975, the Spanish economy was resurrected and a new Spanish identity was born. La Movida was characterised by freedom of expression, hedonistic behaviour, the use of recreational drugs, but most importantly, a complete rebellion against the fascist Franco regime.

Malasaña was the hub of all 'Movida' activity in the 80's, and if you walk through the neighbourhood today, you can still see signs of this. I know I talk about Malasaña a lot, but I really do love this area. It homes such an eclectic mix of people, and as you walk around, you really feel like you have travelled back in time.

The Heavy Metal scene really exploded in Madrid during La Movida, and it is still very much alive today. During the first few months in Madrid, I would occasionally spot two grey haired fellas, dressed in extremely tight, heavy rock inspired clothing, walking aimlessly through the city. It wasn't until recently that we asked them for a photo outside Bershka, Gran Via, and this sparked a wee bit of an obsession with them.

The twins are called 'Los Hermanos Alcázar' and are somewhat an icon in Madrid. They hang out outside Bershka every single day from 5 until 8pm, and have been for many many years. This exact spot was the home of Madrid Rock, a famous record store for rock fanatics, which closed down a few years ago. Madrid Rock sold records, held record signings and gigs, which the Brother's always went to. Despite being replaced by a retail store, the brothers still claim this area as their own. In a recent interview they said "we were reluctant to see Gran Via converted into pure consumerism."

In another interview, the Brothers explain that in the 80's, they lost 40 close friends to drug and alcohol abuse. This really affected them, and they have been teetotal now for 20 years. The brothers don't have jobs, and retrieve food from bins outside Lidl. This is completely their own choice, as they have had jobs in the past, but didn't like being tied down.

When we chatted to the Brothers, they were surprisingly so friendly! If you see them in Madrid, don't be scared to go have a chat with them! They love all the attention, especially off women! 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What Is/Is Not Socially Acceptable In Madrid?

What Is Socially Acceptable in Madrid?

1. Wearing sunglasses indoors, especially on the metro. The Spanish are all about creating that mysterious, too cool for school look... I just do it when I'm looking rough. 

2. Staring, especially on the Metro. Cast your eyes on someone on the Metro, look at them up and down, check out what they are wearing, stare into their eyes, and don't worry if they spot you… keep looking and don't get scared. 

3. Being late. In Madrid you should never be on time for anything. Being on time is just not cool here. 

4. Kissing twice on the cheek when you greet someone. This is the cause of many awkward moments when someone only goes for one kiss, and you are left hovering in their personal space with your lips pursed ready for another one. 

5. Being slow. Everyone in Madrid, whether young or old, walks at the pace of a tortoise. In England everyone always seems to be in a rush, but in Spain, the pace of life is extremely slow. I have places to be, people to see, and I just want to kick them up the hiney and tell them to move out of the way!

What is NOT Socially Acceptable in Madrid?

1. Non-Spanish Clothing. Women, don't wear anything else but jeans and parka coats, no matter what time of year it is. Even in the blistering heat, it's just not socially acceptable to get your pins/cleavage out. If you dare try, I promise you will spend your whole day trying to cover up your skin as you receive disapproving looks off old women, and unwanted attention from men. Unless you like that greasy, slimey, tracksuit wearing fella who is desperately trying to chat you up. 

2. Being polite. Spanish people are not polite, and they don't do queues. Every man is out for themselves. Since moving here I've realised that English people are incredibly polite, and I love that. The English are forever saying sorry, queueing patiently and giving up their seat on public transport. The Spanish on the other hand, are quite the opposite. 

3. Going out early. You shouldn't be going to a club in Madrid until at least 3am. PRO - The Metro will be open when you leave the club. CON - You will have been drinking from 11pm until 7am, and by this time, you probably won't even know what a Metro is...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Alternative Walking Tour Of Madrid

My beautiful friend Laura came to visit Madrid for a few days last week. I had such a lovely time with her, and I hope she did aswell! I decided that instead of showing her the typical spots in Madrid, like the Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real and Retiro, that I would do an 'alternative walking tour' of my favourite spots in Madrid. 

Here is a list of the places I showed her... and in case you wanted to know, YES, they are all in Malasaña! 

- Calle Espíritu Santo - Lolina Vintage Cafe, Happy Day Bakery, Alino, Templo de Susu, Miss Vintage, Banzai Sushi

- Plaza Juan Pujol

- Calle San Vicente Ferrer  - Taboó

- Plaza del Dos de Mayo - aka Plaza de Doggy Dogg. (Our Pet name for the square cus it's full of dogs...) 

- Calle Velarde - All the vintage shops 

- Calle Hortaleza - Tommy Mels 

Replay Sunset Parties

Last Sunday we hopped on a bus to the outskirts of Madrid where Replay Sunset Parties was holding an event. The venue was unreal! 25 degree heat, sun shining, drinks were flowing and everyone was loving life! 

Jamie Jones, The Martinez Brothers and Afrobeat were just a few of the names that played. Jamie obviously didn't disappoint. His high energy and cheeky smile throughout the whole set kept us all happy as Larry as we danced all day until the sun went down. 

The next event is at the end of June which is a huge shame as I go home at the beginning of June. There may be plans to come back to Madrid over summer though... fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Picoteo Devicio

 Taggliatelle with prawns
Vegetable Tempura
Mini Hamburger
Parmesan, pesto and pine-nut foam. 
Chocolate cake with strawberry ice-cream
 Apple tart with dulce de leche ice-cream

"Platos exquisitos y muy elaborados a precios económicos..."

So we decided that we were going to go to this very good Tapas bar for dinner on the 2nd night in Valencia. Stupidly we didn't ring up and reserve, and instead just sat outside the restaurant for 1 and a half hours, munching on Doritos and dip and playing Uno.. Despite our positive attitude, our hearts were crushed when they said they were fully booked for that night. So we returned on the Saturday,expecting an epic meal, as it was ranked 5th best restaurant in Valencia on Trip Advisor. And that was what we received. 
Very very cheap, excellent quality tapas dishes, with a modern twist. Megan and I decided to have 10 dishes between us, so we could taste a little bit of everything. BAD IDEA. We were stuffed by the 5th dish, but Megan kept on ploughing through. My favourites were the parmesan, pesto and pine nut foam, crunchy battered aubergine covered in honey with humus dip, spicy tomato taggliatelle with huge griddled prawns, pasta nest topped with a fried egg and chorizo cream, and finally the caramelised apple pie with dulce de leche ice cream.

I hugely recommend this place to anyone in Valencia. Make sure you ring up and reserve as they are extremely popular. Tasty, elegantly presented, stupidly cheap food. What could be better?! 


Much to my delight, Madrid's electronic music scene is huge. (I'm so edgy la la la) I've been lucky enough to see some awesome DJs here, including Jamie Jones, Danny Daze, Maya Jane Coles, DJ Zinc, Pachanga Boys, XXXY etc. Solomun and Art Department were also meant to play in Madrid, but never turned up...

In my opinion, Mondo is the best place to go in Madrid if you are into electronic/house music. It's very central, only 5 minutes walk from Puerta del Sol. The programme each month never fails to impress, with some of the biggest DJ's flying into Madrid to showcase their stuff. Next week, on the 16th May, we are going to see Joy Orbison at Mondo which I'm very excited about.

My housemates Greg and Charlie have also massively influenced my taste in music after they took up DJ-ing when they arrived in Madrid. Their career was short-lived, but incredibly exciting. They played at Taboó many times, as well as house parties. One particularly memorable week was the week before they played in the main room in Taboó. They practiced all day, everyday, until I was dying to hear some acoustic music without the housey beat. It all paid off though, the audience absolutely loved them and I was a very proud of my boys! I really hope they continue to DJ in Nottingham next year.

Vintage Shopping Madrid

If you love Vintage clothes and accessories, the only place to go in Madrid is Calle de Velarde in Malasaña. The nearest metro stop is Tribunal. 

I have been lucky enough to live right next door to a collection of the Best Vintage shops in Madrid. 

Here is a list of my favourite shops on this road and the little treasures which I've found in them over the past 6 months.

Mono Checa - dungarees, Grandad jumpers, leotards, sunglasses 

Magpie - vintage floral dresses, jumpsuits, rucksacks, lots of basket ball tops/jackets

Biba Vintage - checked shirts, denim jackets, glittery jumpers

Other vintage shops nearby include:

Retro City - Levi jeans/shorts/shirts/dungarees, colourful leggings

Templo de Susu  - black leather boyfriend style jacket, sunglasses

Miss Sushi

Definitely some of the best Sushi I have had in Spain. The decor and colour scheme of the restaurant is rather odd, with fluffy seats and neon pink lighting... it kinda looks like Paris Hilton's house. We were in a bit of a rush so decided to get it to takeaway and the quality of the food was fantastic. The Gyoza were spot on. I decided to go for 8 pieces of 'Dragon', the chains most popular sushi. Tempura prawn and asparagus wrapped up in rice and avocado, with mayo and a spicy dipping sauce. Caroline's veggie sushi alternative also looked great. 

Apparently they have a Miss Sushi in Madrid, so I will definitely be giving them a cheeky visit when I return next week. 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Beach Party!

Taken at Laydown in Valencia by Caroline Marzano


Feeling a bit worse for wear, we decided to make our way down to the beach, with lots of hangover food, for an afternoon of sunbathing. (living the dream!) We got our tan on for about 2 hours, then got very bored so decided it was time for Megan's ice cream of the day. As we got to the ice-cream van we started to hear some really good tunes, and ended up following the music. 

Somehow we stumbled across an absolute winner. It was a Moet and Chandon champagne bar, all outside, with white beds. Not usually my cup of tea, but I had a whale of a time. Bikini's and maxi skirts were adorned, as well as a rather cringe flat cap that I found on the beach. We hastily got the Gin and Tonics in.. hare of the dog and all that jazz. 4 hours later we were all overcome with this huge urge to pretend we were Shakira, dancing to African Tribal music in front of about 50 people. 
We really did not want to leave this place. With views of the Puerto, huge white boats, bright blue sea and sky, surrounded by palm trees, everything was just perfect.  
We left the bar, slightly disheartened as we had a dinner reservation to rush back for. We just wanted to be there all night. When i returned home I searched for the bar in Google and realised that that day was their opening weekend again for the summer. 

This place really is a MUST SEE in Valencia, if you are looking for a chilled bar, near the beach, with some ridiculous tunes, then this place is everything you could wish for, and more.  


Taken by Caroline Marzano

What an unbelievable bank holiday I have had! The journey started off a bit shakey, turning 
up at the bus station at 7.01am, when our bus was meant to leave at 7. We somehow managed to get down to Valencia without any issues, with lots of hungry tums, and over excited young ladies.  As we bounded off the bus into the sunshine, we soon realised that Caroline had left her £300 glasses on her seat. TRAGIC. We had many other setbacks after that, including Megan's card nearly being swallowed, eating an awful burger by the beach, waiting outside a restaurant for 1 and a half hours until it opened, later to be told that they were fully booked for the evening. Despite a few minor glitches, I have had a very eventful, hilarious, relaxing time. 

My next few posts will be photos from Valencia and reviews on a few restaurants which we visited.