Sunday, 4 May 2008


We are planning to move house in August: much as we love our current flat, we absolutely have to have more space and a bigger kitchen with four rings on the stove and an oven (dreaming of steak and kidney pies and rosbif con puddin ye País de York). So we tend to spend weekends visiting other barrios (neighbourhoods) to see whether we might like to live in them.

Malasaña, which adjoins Chueca (where we live now), has been the subject of this weekend's exploration. It really is an interesting area - artistic, bohemian, slightly scary. Just like us! MamaDuck has blogged about a gig that she stumbled upon last night. What she didn't mention was a conversation that we had with Nacho, who is involved with that tiny theatre in some way.

I could lie and say we had this conversation in Spanish, but actually Nacho speaks English fluently. MamaDuck had first spoken to him as she was peering into the open doorway of the theatrette.

'You're not from this barrio, are you?' He asked.

She explained about Chueca/England.

After she had run home and destroyed my plan for a three-hour bath, we headed off to Plaza Ildefonso, where we bumped into Nacho. We had noticed on our previous visits over the last few evenings that there were always lots of cops about. Last night there were six at each end of the plaza. I mentioned this to Nacho, who said that ever since Dos de Mayo last year (when there was rioting in Plaza de Dos de Mayo), the police presence at weekends was nothing less than oppressive. He said that every Friday and Saturday night there would be at least two cops on every street corner, and this had been happening since last year's riot. This being the anniversary of last year's riot, the police had gone into overdrive to prevent a recurrence.

Apparently they are cracking down on people drinking in the streets ('cultura botellon' - I don't think it's actually illegal), and Nacho himself was stopped by police a few days ago. He was on his way to dinner at a friend's house, and the bag of ice cubes he was carrying was confiscated. Unreal.

The outdoor drinking thing is understandable. Consider this: if you sit down at one of the many cafe tables in Plaza de Chueca, a beer will cost you three Euros. That's for a doble, about half a pint. Lots of people do this, and it's not a problem. Lots of other people do something else. They bring their own beer, and sit around a bench if they can get one, or stand around in groups if they can't. The economics speak for themselves: you can buy a half-litre can of very acceptable beer from Dia for 44 cents. So that three Euro doble translates into almost 7 cans of beer. If you plan ahead, you could buy your beer from Carrefour Express: their cheapest is 25 cents (330 ml cans), so your three Euros buys you twelve cans!

Back to Malasaña; an up-and-coming barrio. It's very close to the centre, quite pleasing to the eye and very lively. But there are some dodgy-looking characters hanging around.


Graeme said...

If you make the move we'll have to set up the Malasaña Association of Bloggers in English (or MABLE, for short). One word of advice, although you are probably aware of this from living in Chueca. Check out the streets you like at midnight-1 a.m. rather than just earlier in the day - that way you see how many of those closed shopfronts conceal bars and late night noise.

Keefieboy said...

Graeme: LOL! Mnd you, if you moved to Chueca, it could be CABLE.