Guiri Guest Elizabeth is a designer, graphic artist and urbanophile living in Madrid. She lived in New York for ten years and graduated in May from the MFA Communications Design program at Pratt. She loves being surrounded by art, architecture and design, and has a passion for the hidden narrative of the city and “off the beaten track” places.
When I first discovered La Casa Encendida I was still in New York, planning my move to Madrid, and I was so thrilled to find a connection (however remote) to a creative community in my new neighborhood. So after not even three days of living here, of course I stopped in to check it out. It is a beautiful space with four levels and a large open performance area in the center. Their programming is diverse, focusing on avant-garde art and theater. The current exhibition, La Caballeria Roja (The Red Cavalry), contains a veritable wonderland of Russian Constructivist art and sculpture, with some experimental surprises.
Going up the stairs takes you to the labyrinth of classrooms where they teach every design-related computer program you’ve ever heard of, from photo retouching to After Effects. There’s a laboratory for video artists to work on their projects and a library/resource center, available gratis for all. So clearly this is the place to learn video editing in Madrid, and they also have an “artist in residence” program, which has a long history of supporting young artists. Also quite randomly on the roof is a permanent botanical garden, to teach kids (small and large) about the different indigenous plant species found in El Retiro.
La Casa Encendida is a great place to connect with if you are interested in art, would like to learn more about it, or get the creative bug when you are visiting or living in Madrid. The classes are all in Spanish, but that’s good if you’re like me and need some practice!
Since it’s inception a couple of years ago, Fashion’s Night Out (FNO) has become a global multi-day event where retailers can drum up business and the savvy shopper can score a freebie or two. When I struggled to get a cab last year in New York, I realized that this event was becoming serious business and now that Madrid has over 340 shops signed up to participate, I am eagerly looking forward to this year’s fashion extravaganza! In Madrid, FNO is scheduled for Wednesday, September 72011.
The basic concept is that fashion brands and shops will stay open late into the evening (often until midnight or beyond) to allow shoppers time to peruse their displays and latest season’s collection. Often, the shops will have music, free demonstrations or services and special discounts for FNO shoppers. The perks vary based on the shop, but you can find out all the deals and plot out your approach based on the information Spanish Vogue has posted on their website.
For those who prefer to shop at home or who can’t make it to the events, check out the online deals also on offer. And if you’re still travelling on your vacaciones, check out the other offers worldwide … as I said, FNO is a global event!
To get the latest updates follow @FNOMadrid on Twitter or VogueEspana on Facebook.
I’m a WiFi café junky. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like leaving the casa and holing up in some shop where booming Spanish voices manage to drown out my own thoughts. Somehow, it works for me.
One of my favorite WiFi hangouts these days is the semi-new (2010) eno-biblio-café (name coined by me, gracias!) where you can work, read and imbibe in one fell swoop. Sounds like bliss, verdad?
If a coffee isn’t your thing, you can choose from their list of wines – my suggestion: a glass of the Ad Libitum Rioja. After all, nothing pairs better with a book and free Internet than a good glass of vino!
And it’s more than just a book shop where you can get tipsy and buy Spanish books you might never read. Hiding below transparent panels of glass, the bottom floor comes to life with vibrantly painted bright orange walls covered by various art expositions.
Between the wine, books and art, it’s a miracle I ever get anything done!
Whether you are just moving to Madrid or returning from vaciones, the Piscina de Verano at the Universidad Complutense Madrid provides a perfect way to beat the summer heat! The large olympic-size swimming pool is great for some exercise al fresco or just the occasional dip to cool off while sunbathing. Surrounded by grassy areas and tables with umbrellas for eating your snack from the cafeteria it’s a nice spot for chilling out during these remaining days of summer.
Located close to Parque del Oeste, the pool is open through September 8th from 11am until 8pm. I have been a couple of times this week and it was not very busy, but I have heard from friends that it is best to go early if you want some peaceful time to get in some laps. I also heard that no children are allowed and indeed I have not seen any in the pool. General admission costs €8 and students from other universities can also get a discounted rate of €6.50.
Piscina de Verano UCM
Calle del Obispo Trejo near Calle de Martin Fierro
Shortly after moving to Madrid, I set out to explore the city’s parks and green spaces. I started with Parque del Buen Retiro (read recent Guiri Guide posts here and here) and then headed over to the Parque del Oueste. With my brother in tow, and luckily also my camera, we started at the Templo de Debod and then headed further north into the park. I was pleased to find lovely green spaces with plenty of room for picnics, strolls with our dog, cycling and even skateboarding!
We then wandered down a small path and happened upon the beautiful and peaceful La Rosaleda garden. Set away from the main pathway before you reach the cable cars, there was only a handful of people strolling in between the rows and rows of rosebeds. I was amazed at the array of colours, neatly groomed pathways and thoughtfully laid out garden. The flowers come from all over the world and it’s a spectacular sight when they are all in bloom. Several fountains and pergolas add to the ambiance. Instantly relaxed, we wandered through the garden and sat for a while on one of the benches scattered throughout. A peaceful haven so close to the hustle and bustle of the Plaza de Espana!
Here are a couple photos I took in early June … it’s become one of my favorite spots in Madrid and I think it’s definitely worth a visit (especially if you enjoy taking photos or need some peace and quiet!).
La Rosaleda garden located within the Parque del Oeste (near la Calle de Francisco and Calle de Quintana.