Culture

The House of Suitcases

"Is it busy out there?" asks Isabelle, owner of La Casa de Maletas in El Rastro. That day was the first day of the Rastro for eight months, since the pandemic shut Europe's largest open-air flea market down in the second week of March.

The little pastry shop celebrating Madrid’s changing seasons

“The best pastelería in Madrid” is a bold claim, with the potential to spark messy cream fights. But a good argument can be made that El Artesano, a small pastry shop in Ventas serving the local community for over 50 years, is an honest contender.

Madrid’s Human Beehive

During lockdown, the nightly applause for healthcare workers here must have been epic. Thousands of people opened their windows onto their wide, windy boulevards and, for a few minutes, clapped as one giant entity within Spain's biggest human beehive.

Madrid’s golden age of commercial ceramic art

Welcome to the golden age of ceramic art that took Madrid by storm, until the dictatorship and renovation works meant that all these beautiful old works of art were covered, sealed up and entombed for a future accidental renaissance which is happening right now.

Fighting for the future of El Rastro

Last Sunday, hundreds of market stall holders occupied the streets of the Rastro to defend their right to reopen their stalls and to preserve an ancient Madrid tradition. The same leafy street, lined with numbered buttons marking the location of each stall, was suddenly bustling again but with cries, chants and a live klezmer version of Bella Ciao. 

Pilgrimage to El Coleccionista: Lavapiés’ iconic comic book store

Down Calle Tribulete, just a few minutes from Plaza Lavapiés is Cómics El Coleccionista, where it has stood seemingly forever. Opened in 1993 by a pair of friends who met each other through their mutual love of comic books, El Coleccionista has remained virtually unchanged throughout its 27 years of existence.

The battle for Baobab

Yesterday, the people of Madrid make their thoughts crystal clear: don't evict Baobab! So far, this emotive Instagram post has been shared by 2,793 people in their stories, and viewed by 32,557. To put things in perspective, that's about 10 times more people than my average Madrid No Frills Instagram posts.

Parallel worlds: saving Buenos Aires’ no-frills bars

Earlier this year, I discovered that I had a long-lost twin in Buenos Aires: Bar de Viejes. This is an Instagram account that was born out of a desire of one person to document the beautiful old Buenos Aires bars, especially those that are under-appreciated and disappearing.