My best mate Phil – also the girl’s Guidefather – and his partner Andrew have been hanging out in the Europes and making us hideously jealous with their social media snaps for the last month. They visited us in Luzern for their first weekend, and we’d been biding our time until meeting them in Madrid to bookend their visit before they went home. We arrived last Friday and were greeted by heat in the high 30s, instantly forcing us to slow down, relax and drink cerveza (which happily this pregnant lady doesn’t actually like, so it wasn’t until the lads hit the gins that I got surly).
When booking the trip it was unusually difficult to find somewhere to stay. The apartment we chose required a minimum four night booking, despite its website claiming otherwise. On querying this we were told this was due to it being one of the biggest events of the year in Madrid: Pride! Apparently the largest festival of its kind in the world, Madrid Pride has over 2 million people celebrating over the weekend. The whole city had its glad rags on.
We spent our Saturday moseying around the city, spending some playing time at the surprisingly lush El Retiro park, where the girl’s father and uncles seemed to have more fun playing than she did.
We lunched with our Spanish friends Paella and its noodly cousin Fidueà, and then embraced that other excellent Spanish tradition: the siesta. We figured we couldn’t be in Madrid for the party of the year without giving it a go, so we got our fiesta on and hit the streets for Pride. As we walked the few blocks to the parade, we could hear music and revelry increasingly escalating, and the girl’s dance moves kicked in.
For a two million people strong party, the city was amazingly relaxed. There was a vibe of good cheer with costumed people, DIY-sangria-sellers, families, and general revellers throughout the city, but no angst or overt drunkenness that I associate with epic street parties (well, those in Australia at any rate). The parade itself was huge, starting at 6pm and continuing well into the early hours. We’re used to the spectacle and flamboyance of Sydney’s fabulous Mardi Gras; this parade, although enormous, was much more low key but in a way was more inclusive. Anyone and everyone was in on the act, with no fencing between the crowds and the parade so bystanders could become part of the act if they so chose (which many of them seemed to do). Rather than being solely focused on the parade, the party is city wide, with stages, DJs and live music set up in squares and greens across town. We strolled the closed off streets, watching the festivities and (in my case not) drinking litre-large beers before hitting a nearby rooftop bar to eagle eye the crowds, lights and spectacular Madrid sunset (and, of course, indulging in late night exceedingly garlicy tapas on the way home).
The following day we’d planned a cycle tour around the city. It was Laidey’s first time on a bike and although the set up was fairly laborious she got into the groove quickly enough (although her ‘smile for the camera’ face needs a bit more work).
It turned out to be just the five of us on the tour, and we scooted around the streets we’d partied on the night previously. We started at Point 0 in the city and made our way outwards, circling palaces and vine covered buildings down towards the river. The main piece of trivia I remember from the tour guide was that Madrid is clearly party central – there is more than one drinking establishment per each person living in the city, and beer is far cheaper than water or soft drinks. Hurrah for Madrid!
The day was again hot – it clocked 38 as we were cycling around – and the heat took it out of a certain little someone. I realise she looks in a bad way here, head lolling as she slept against her father’s back, but rest assured she perked back up as soon as we stopped and got stuck into a plate of olives (still with that ridiculous ‘grin’).
We spent our final night with more tapas, questionable premixed sangria and discussions of the holiday just gone and those to come. Despite their best efforts over the weekend, Uncles Pip and Sunny were not able to get the girl to say their names before she says ‘mama’ (thank goodness. I would be furious…and yet unsurprised). We flew back together to Zurich where they embarked on the long haul home, and we made tracks back to Luzern to play with a circus themed puppet show from the already much missed Uncle Pip. And, of course, work on our smiles.