Happy New Year from Madrid!
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m glad to see the back of 2020 (even though it did have its high points) and I welcome the chance of a fresh start in 2021.
It might take a good few months for things to get back to anything approaching pre-pandemic normality, for example, I’m not expecting to get anywhere near a La Liga or Segunda game until the start of next season at the earliest and any plans to travel during Semana Santa will probably be abandoned. But if we can’t be optimistic looking ahead on the first day of a new year, when can we be?
Where I’ve Been 🗺
With the borders of the Communidad de Madrid closed for large periods of the month, it’s not really been the best time to travel. And being busy in the run-up to Christmas didn’t really provide much of an opportunity to go places anyway!
In fact, my only trip outside of Metro Zone A last month was to San Sebastián de los Reyes for Madrid CFF v Deportivo Abanca, plus a trip to Ikea. On the Saturday before Christmas too!
Most Popular Post 💻
December was another big month as the blog recorded some of its best visitor numbers of the year.
Number one for the month was 2020 in New Grounds, a simple enough round-up of the 12 new stadiums I managed to visit over the previous 12 months. It wasn’t quite on the scale I had imagined it would be, all of the grounds being inside the Communidad de Madrid, but hopefully when I come to compose 2021 in New Grounds in mid-December next year, it will have a slightly more cosmopolitan flavour!
Overall, 2020 was a positive year in terms of content despite the obvious handicap of having no new football to talk about for three months and then an additional three months of not being able to go to matches.
Thanks again to everyone who has clicked, read, liked, shared or commented over the past 12 months. While the blog is mostly a hobby, something I do as a creative outlet, it’s good to know there are so many people out there who share an interest in the things I cover!
Game of the Month ⚽️
December usually means a feast of festive football as I head home to Northern Ireland for the holidays and get an opportunity to catch-up with how Coleraine are doing. But this year, things were different. Not only did I end up staying in Spain over the holidays, but due to a new lockdown back home Coleraine didn’t play the traditional festive fixtures.
The best game of the four I went to last month was actually the last one, RCD Carabanchel 1-1 Alcorcón B at La Mina. An end-to-end game which deserved far more goals than the two it gave us and also reminded me of how much I love La Mina as a place to watch football and I’ll certainly make an effort to go there more often this year.
Book of the Month 📚
I’ve taken a bit of a break from reading football-related books this past month and indulged in some of my other passions, mainly history.
I’ve particularly enjoyed reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, which I picked up a few months back after reading that it was the inspiration for Lin Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton: An American Musical, which I saw for the first time in the summer and loved instantly and I may be a little bit obsessed with – seriously, when I did my end of year Spotify thing, half of it was the Hamilton soundtrack.
The book does a really good job of sketching out the life of Hamilton and (for me at least) filling in gaps the musical doesn’t really cover. Seriously, if you have free time between now and the end of your Christmas holidays, watch it on Disney+. It’s just so good.
Food Glorious Food! 🥘
I’ve got quite a few new places to share this month!
Refusion Delivery is on our street in Madrid and we paid it a visit one Thursday night after I finished work for the week.
The restaurant was set up by the Madrid for Refugees association and serves food from Syria, Sudan and Venezuela. We had falafel as a starter and then for the main course I had Kofta, Sudanese-style meatballs with rice and a peanut sauce which was actually spicy, unlike so much Spanish cuisine that claims to be! Then as dessert we had chocolate-filled tequeños.
We enjoyed it so much that we went back again before the end of the month, this time to order our New Year’s Eve dinner.
For Sarah’s birthday in the middle of the month, we went to El Jalapeño, a Mexican restaurant just across Paseo de la Castellana. We had a great meal including nachos, tacos, Mexican lasagna followed by a skillet cookie for dessert.
And because we had booked using The Fork app, we were able to get 30% off everything on the menu.
Then just before the holidays, we finally got round to visiting Taberna Loureiro, a Galician restaurant in our barrio, not far from Valdeacederas metro station.
There was a menu del día option, but we opted for a racion of one of our favourite Galician tapas, raxo, along with a pintxo de tortilla.
It was good value for money and we’ll definitely visit again in 2021.
Christmas in Madrid 🎄
This year Christmas brought new challenges – most notably having to cook the Christmas dinner myself, with help from Sarah of course!
As you can see above, it turned out pretty well in the end and there were more than enough leftovers for a full dinner on Boxing Day too.
Then once the main celebration was over, we were able to relax a bit. For Sarah’s birthday on 16th December, I’d bought a night’s stay in the fancy Riu Hotel at Plaza de España.
Not only was it nice to spend a night away from our yellow walls, but it also allowed us the opportunity to spend a night in the city centre and see the Christmas lights, which seemed to have received a major upgrade this year after several years of being largely the same. The display outside Madrid’s Four Seasons hotel (alas not Four Seasons Total Landscaping) was particularly popular on social media this year.
What’s Up Next?
Because Spanish holiday festivities go on until 6th of January, I have the interesting situation of working one day on the 7th and then heading straight into the weekend. As such, my first full week of work doesn’t come until 11th January.
January traditionally always feels like the longest and coldest month, so I imagine there’ll be lots of nights in, especially as Sarah and I continue to work through one of my favourite TV series of all time – The West Wing.
I’ve mapped out my football watching for January already, trying to stay relatively close to home while working in a couple of new grounds alongside the old favourites. Hopefully one of the new ones will be my long-overdue visit to CD Barajas, which I had initially pencilled in for the start of December, only for Covid-19 (what else?) to intervene by cancelling the game.
Until next time,
All the best,