Hologram creator and freelance photographer Jamie Gray sends a dispatch from the Spanish capital


Bursting with eccentricity, cool charm, and more gin to sink an armada, Madrid is a melting pot of creativity. Not too dissimilar to Rugby then. Which is why it makes a perfect venue to take notes on retail, food, and a vibrant art scene.

madrid jamie gray


‘First Thursday’s’ (Rugby’s retail initiative to open later than 5.30pm) are en-trend in Madrid, with shops opening way past the 10pm mark every night. Even the boutiques selling handmade wares are trading to eager shoppers past the bedtime of many of their British counterparts. This is obviously in part to the excessive daytime heat causing traders and shoppers to pause for a siesta in the day. Streets lined with small independent shops are bustling and busy into the night, with shoppers pausing for a drink and tapas between the stores.

The favourite drink in Madrid is gin and tonic, which is drunk moderately from huge ice-filled chalices. There’s a feeling the ever-so-cool and almost hipster young-guns of Madrid are desperate for a non-traditional drink, adopting a booze our British elders would prefer. Often the gin and tonic is served with cake.

There’s plenty of art galleries in Madrid, but one which resonates with me is the Museum Sorolla. Housed in the actual home of artist Joaquin Sorolla, walking around attaches the visitor to the spirit of a Spanish artistic legend. For sheer scale, the Prado Museum is one of Europes grandest galleries. Visit between 6pm-8pm for free.

Food in Madrid is best served in small portions, and the only place for a tapas overload is the San Miguel Market. Within the cast iron exterior are dozens of food and drink vendors selling traditional Spanish fare. It gets very busy in there during the evening, so don’t expect a comfy seat available to sit and digest. Sample as much as you can and head to a nearby side street bar for a G&T, possibly with a slice of cake.

Adios, Jamie

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