Sophie Coatsworth, design assistant at Ryder, visited Madrid with Ronnie Graham’s team. She discusses what made the city and the experience special.
We arrived at our hostel on Friday evening, which turned out to be a great choice and was situated in the heart of the city surrounded by lots of amazing attractions and nightlife. Following a day at work and a crazy flight shared with a few stag parties, we decided to treat ourselves to some Spanish beers and tapas and soon discovered an endless amount of small quaint bars tucked away down some fantastic side streets.
On Saturday morning, with a little bit of a headache, we prepared for a jam packed day of sightseeing. On route to our first stop, we came across the Pro Unity march, gathering hundreds of protestors against the Catalan independence campaign. CalixaForum by Herzog and De Meuron was the first visit of the day - a very popular attraction showing off a large heavy mass building, detached from the ground in apparent defiance of the law of gravity which draws the visitor’s inside.
The Jean Novelle, Reina Sofia Museum is a very impressive piece of architecture, with a large cantilevered roof covering the indoor public space and demonstrating a very successful insertion of a contemporary extension to a historical building.
We paid a visit to the Central Station which houses a large indoor jungle called Atocha incorporating hundreds of species of trees. This is an unusual but eye catching attraction and one not to be missed. The midday the heat encouraged us to stop at a local restaurant for one beer which led to another and resulted in 70 Euros worth of delicious Paella.
The final visit of the day was the Repsol building by the architect Rafael de La Hoz, a very commercial but solid piece of architecture, with lots of regeneration space around the building and a clever use of signage. Saturday evening began in the well known restaurant Museo Del Jamon with constant flow of tapas which we couldn’t refuse.
On Sunday morning, we all headed to the local indoor market which had been sympathetically refurbished with boutique style eateries. We sampled some of the delicious local dishes which certainly made us feel a lot chirpier. The Grand Palace was the next on our to do list. This is an impressive building which comes with a pricy entrance fee, so we admired the building from afar and looked out to the great views of the urban sprawl of the city. In the 28 degree heat, some of us found it a little too hot and cooled off with a dip in the local fountain.
Down a little back street, we came across the ABC Museum - a converted brewery turned museum with an underground gallery. We spent a fair amount of time here, admiring the art work and the outside courtyard area.
To get the best views of the city, we ascended to the top of the Faro de Moncloa. Those who were a little afraid of heights made a speedy exit down to safety, whilst the rest of us took in the views from the top. Our final night in Madrid was spent in a burger restaurant, a little quieter than the other evenings, reflecting on our weekend with good food and great company.
This was a fantastic opportunity for us all, which allowed us to explore a new city, visit some incredible architecture, try some local beer and eat plenty of tapas but most importantly, allowing the team to bond and have lots of fun. Thank you Ryder and to those who organised the trip.