Each December the Plaza Mayor is decorated with lights and holiday vendors, a stage is mounted for Christmas music and a carousel is set up in one corner. At night it is spectacular, the smell of roasting chestnuts and chocolate dipped waffles reminds many madrileños and tourists that Christmas is near.

Early this morning I crept outside for a walk in the cold air and I stumbled upon the Plaza, preparing for a day of visitors and merriment. I wanted to share the sights and sounds with you at home and I hope you feel transported. Older gents are trading stamps, street vendors are talking prices and testing their battery powered toys, and madrileños enjoy a typical winter breakfast at a hot chocolate and churro shop.

Close your eyes and enjoy the morning sounds of winter in Madrid.

 

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Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Madrid

Bloggers Unite

I got a Sunshine Bloggers Award Nomination from Ashley at Cómo perderse en España. Thanks a mil Ashley, I’m stoked to have my first nomination for a blog award and absolutely love connecting with other bloggers!

For the nomination I need to answer some questions she sent me so here we go:

1. If you had to choose, which would be your favourite of all the the posts you’ve ever written?

Hands down Boquerones! It was fun to make the gif and especially fun to eat the boquerones while I worked on the post.

2.  What’s your favourite season?

Fall in Madrid is spectacular, cold and crisp and the trees are firey red. In Portland the summers are the best.

3.  What’s one blog that you always read?

Is is bad that I don’t actually read many blogs?? I’m green to blogging and I kind of like it that way. I listen to Majestic Casual on youtube while I write and frequently check out Creative Mornings events for inspiration.

4.  What is the most beautiful place, home or away, you’ve ever visited?

Iguazú Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border. Breathtaking.

5.  Do you have a go-to recipe or meal that you always make?

I eat a lot of pasta; I make a quick sauce with whole canned tomatoes, canned tuna, chili flakes and garlic all mixed together and sautéed in a pan while the pasta water boils. I like rigatoni best but penne works too, then finish with grated granna padano on top. I had this last night for dinner!

6.  What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do, but have never ever gotten around to learning?

To surf, really well. I want to be a surfer chick.

7.  If you could go back in history and relive a time period, when could it be and where?

The Mayan Civilization, to taste the first hot chocolates see the lush tropical forests.

8.  Do you have a favourite thing about your city or town?

My favorite thing about Spain is the people: they are opinionated, extremely passionate about life and endlessly forgiving.

9.  Is there a post that you’ve been meaning to write, but haven’t yet gotten around to writing it? What’s it about?

I’d love to write/post about street-style, there are some really gusty and cool fashionist@s in Madrid and I’d love to show you all what they wear everyday. Stay tuned 😉

10.  If you could visit any place in the world where would it be?

Today I would love a bagel from the Russian deli by my grandmas apartment in Queens, NY. I can’t remember the name of the place but wow, the bagels are great. In general I would like to go to Peru.

11.  What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

The Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated. Works every time! And also, dance like nobody’s watching!

Thanks Ashley that was fun!

 

Las Puertas de Toledo

Eusevia in front of her door

Miguel and I had another holiday weekend last week and we needed to get out of town. For whatever reason Toledo sounds nice in the Fall so we decided to do a repeat of last November’s trip and see the little town on a hill one more time. I booked an afternoon at an Arabian bath house: beautifully preserved pools of cold and hot water that have been the Moorish spa tradition since Toledo was ruled by the Islamic empire centuries ago. We relaxed, had a massage and then floated back to our hotel, catching up on some much needed sleep. Toledo is a bit touristic and this weekend it was especially crowded but Miguel and I managed to slip away from the masses of people and wound up meeting a local woman who told us the story of how she came to Toledo. She invited us into her house and let us take a picture of her!

Back in Madrid the apartment is an adventure and figuring out how to live together is a step by step process. A little bit of rest and relaxation never hurts. I’ve got to get back to the kitchen and let my stresses go. Tonight I think I’ll make cookies in my (much loved) oven – stop by if you want one!

july photos

biscuits, pulled pork and coleslaw

the menu

**Some snapshots from my 4th of July weekend in Virginia with my sister Becca. Barbecue (the kind you really cant get anywhere but there) and blackberry picking!

Philadelphia!

I’m here in Philly visiting cousins and I have to admit I’m in love. Again. Those same cousins got married just a few years back when I had my first adventures through the City of Brotherly Love. Maybe I’m just homesick or maybe it’s really one of the most beautiful cities east of the Mississippi but Philadelphia is truly a brick-and-mortar darling. In downtown it’s impossible to miss the history and if you do its ideally because you are shoving a salty, doughy, soft pretzel in your face. First stop with Kristen (said cousin, who now has two amazingly behaved kids) was the Liberty Bell and the Constitution Center, where there were way too many other people and it was starting to get hot. I had forgotten how humid the Easy Coast gets, so did my hair. Next stop Benjamin Franklin’s grave and the Quaker Free House – for those of you that don’t know, Philadelphia was the U.S. Capital for a hot second and was, more importantly, a major strategic point during and after the War of Independence. It was hard for me not to feel just a little bit patriotic.

Dawson and I looking at the ships Pretzel man
For lunch we went down to Harbor Park, an ultra cool urban waterfront compete with food trucks, hammocks and giant Legos. Dawson had a blast looking at the ships between bites of chicken and I watched in compete awe as my 6month old cousin learned to hold her own bottle up. I have, officially been in the land of over-babied babies for too long (that’s Spain btw). We scooted home for nap time and Kristen introduced me to new American trashy tv: Alaskan Bush People and Million Dollar Listing. Can’t. Stop. Watching. I meandered down the street to a coffee shop to get my fix of espresso, reminded that coffee shops in the states are now “stumptown cool” and everyone is plugged in at a table. My macchiato set me back $3.50, ouch. On a side note I am having a hard time not spending way too much money here, I am fortunate to make over 1k a month in Spain while my friends/cousins are raking in triple here for similar stuff. Miguel comes to visit in a few weeks (weeehooo!) and my mom has graciously offered house painting work so we can pay for Disneyland tickets. Thank you mom, I will accept your offer.

I’m on my way south to Virginia to celebrate 4th of July with my sister in barbecue territory and then fly west to home sweet home. I can’t wait. I’m so excited. Miguel was asking me yesterday if he would have any need for a button down shirt or tie…let me remind you, dear readers, that I am from the city of roses, the place where young people go to retire, socks and sandals casual, grungy, legal weed, the land of unicycles and brunch obsession. If you look like you’re ready to climb a mountain then you look like a Portlander. If Miguel can do that in a shirt and tie then more power to him but something tells me he has NO idea what he’s in for! Nirvana, that’s what.

Soft pretzel!

Will post barbecue pictures, check back soon. If you can’t wait for more follow me on Instagram @eli_saurusRex 🇪🇸😍🇺🇸

Cycle Happy

I just got my bike card! Last spring these electric bikes were installed all over the center and I just couldn’t get my act together to get the membership card in time to ride them before I left for Portland. The fall was crazy, winter was cold and then my wallet was stolen by the metro. Between you and me I ink part of me was truly terrified to ride a bike here since Madrid doesn’t have a reputation for being the most cyclist friendly. First I bought a helmet and then por fin I got my membership card at the kiosk downstairs. Let’s say I’m a recreational biker, despite just about everyone I know owning a fixie and/or commuting everyday to work on a bike (shout out to my dad) in the States, I would really rather walk or bus most places than deal with the hassle of owning/locking/maintaining a bicycle. My memory is scarred by the slow disassembling of my college bike that someone undertook over the span of a week on campus; it was locked but that didn’t stop them from first taking the seat, then the wheels and finally the handlebars. A slow and public death, I saw new pieces taken everyday on my way to class. It was a garage sale find so replacing the parts would have been way more expensive than the thing itself. RIP blue Nishiki…you are missed…on weekends and sunny bank holidays. The truth is I rode it only when I was late to class and it was heavy as hell!

Okay fast forward two years and here I am with these electric bikes all over the city, a boyfriend who LOVES to rides bikes and a new helmet. Did I mention that it also never rains here? All things go: I got a discount with my metro card so the annual “abono” only runs me 25€ and the bikes are super easy to click in and out of the stations. I put 10€ of credit on my card and have been riding for a month almost everyday – since the price is fixed for the first two hours I never really spend that much, mostly I use them to go up and down hills between private lessons or dinner with friends so it’s cheap. Also since the stations are everywhere I need to be, it’s also awesomely convenient and I’m never searching for a kiosk. I’m crazy about them and love that the electricity kicks in right when you need it. Now we just need drivers to pay a little more attention, I’m actually signaling more than cars are out there but the little side streets are crazy fun and much less crowded. Madrid city center is small so hopping on a bike makes moving around easier and more enjoyable than the sweaty underground metro on pretty much any day! Miguel complained at first, these bikes aren’t real bikes, they’re hard to park, they’re expensive blah blah blah. Then one day I insisted that we ride them to the movies, my treat and he bit -the sheer joy of feeling that electric kick once you start pedaling had him convinced by the time we got there. We made it to the theater in half the time it would have taken in a car. Yeehooo!

We are both now talking about how we can ride to work, lucky for me my commute is in the city. His will require some dedication in the winter but it’s a challenge worth accepting. I’m just happy that I’ve rediscovered biking! If you see the girl with the I 💚 Oregon sticker on her helmet it’s probably me! Don’t run me over!

Docking station in Sol

Good places to ride:
1. Madrid Rio: a waterfront route with lots of bikers and runners, stop to play at the oversized jungle gyms.

2. Retiro Park: avoid people/dogs but take lots of brakes for cold lemonade or ice cream

3. Casa de Campo: the city’s most expansive park on the outer edge of Latina/Moncloa, you could pack a lunch and spend all day there biking through the paved roads or on the cross-country style routes.

el Rastro Market

Everyday life here has become a little hectic, I’ve been traveling a lot and hosting tons of friends in my apartment. A little while back my good friends Florencia and Mansi from Argentina told me they were coming to Madrid to kick off a European vacation. They needed a place to stay and I was more than happy to open my doors (and foldable bed) since it had been years since I last saw them. I lived in Buenos Aires with Florencia when I was in college and seeing her again brought back all those study-abroad twilight memories, tons of dulce de leche and of course she stopped at nothing to tease me for my now super-Spanish accent (hah sorry che…). I was excited to introduce them to my life here though I must admit, its really bizarre to be a tour guide in a country I was only recently myself touring around. These are the kinds of friends that you can just pick up with right where you left off as if no time has passed at all – a welcome thing in the house of an expat. Florencia has not lost any of her wit and between her and Mansi its a hilarious combination of jokes and stories. On the first night in town we ordered pizza’s and caught up, played with the cats and went to bed so they could sleep off the jet lag.


IMG_5609Mansi has become a very fashionable and successful photo stylist and teacher in Argentina and he and Florencia asked if we could go to the Rastro Market, a once-a-week flee market that sets up right around the corner from my place every Sunday. Essentially you can find everything from vintage furniture to nic-nacs but more than anything the Rastro reads clothing. Mansi wanted vintage Levis and Florencia was looking for new shades. Hundreds of tourists and locals sift through piles of jackets, jeans and second hand wearables down a long hill and between usually empty side streets during midweek. I thought it would be a sweet opportunity to invite my talented photographer friend Kaitlin and see what she could snap while we navigated the twisty crowded streets. Maybe I’m under-selling this but the Rastro is actually a huge tourist attraction and an excellent excuse to explore the historic Latina neighborhood while sipping cañas and eating tapas.

We rolled out of bed that Sunday and met up with Kaitlin at a nearby café for some coffee before we began the hunt for Mansi’s bluejeans. First stop at the top of the hill, just past the Latina metro station is a sea of Levis and leather jackets. He immediately found some cool stuff and started bartering with the stall owner when not 30minutes later we lost him. Then we lost Florencia. Losing people at the Rastro is like living a Where’s Waldo nightmare so finding them soon was pretty much out of the question. They remember my address right?? I found some cool palazzo pants, Miguel found a Back to the Future replica Dolorian and Kaitlin found a grumpy old dog guarding a motorcycle who was decidedly more photogenic than any of us. Success. And eventually we did also find the Argentines back at my apartment nearby, phew! We ate lunch together at the Buha, famous for their goat cheese and onion tortilla española, planning the rest of the afternoon and soaking up the sun with sangria.

The next day Mansi and Florencia were off to Paris and the rest of their month-long backpacking trip through the continent while the rest of us were off to start the workweek rested and reconnected.

Follow stylist/professor Mansi on the twitter-sphere @JuanMansillaa and check out more of Kaitlin’s beautiful photos here.