Welcome to my place. . . Madrid

Enjoy patatas bravas in their home city, the Prado and clear blue skies in Spain’s capital

Kieran Paul Osbourne is originally from Antrim but now lives in Madrid

Kieran Paul Osbourne is originally from Antrim but now lives in Madrid

 

Kieran Osborne was born in Belfast in 1957. He went to Madrid in 1979 and in 1980 started work as a teacher of English in a private school, Colegio Retama, on the outskirts of the city. He retired at Christmas after 38 years.

Where is the first place you always bring people to when they visit Madrid?
I have a route which begins at the Royal Palace (Calle Bailén) followed by the Cathedral of La Almudena. Following a stop for a beer or wine in the nearby Anciano Rey de los Vinos, one of the oldest bars in Madrid, you go on from there to the Main Square (La Plaza Mayor).

From there I like to bring people to the Plaza Santa Ana area, and the streets of Cruz and Victoria for tapas. In the street called Álvarez Gato, you have the Bravas Bar where they invented the spicy sauce of the same name that goes on patatas bravas.

In Puerta del Sol you have the flagstone Kilómetro 0, where all road distances in Spain from Madrid are measured.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Photograph: Alan Copson/Imagefile
Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Photograph: Alan Copson/Imagefile

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...
Admire how blue the sky is; take a walk in the Retiro Park (and afterwards stop for refreshments in the nearby Irish pub The James Joyce, although that costs money); and enjoy being among the locals (madrileños, in Spanish).

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Madrid?
Restaurante Hylogui (Ventura de la Vega, 3) near Plaza Santa Ana. For more up-market spots, Casa Lucio (Cava Baja, 35) or Lhardy (Carrera San Jerónimo, 8).

Where can you go to get a sense of Madrid’s place in history?
La Plaza de Colón, which is dedicated to Christopher Columbus, whose name in Spanish was Cristóbal Colón. Columbus, who was Italian, completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean under the auspices of the Catholic monarchs of Spain and the crews of his three ships are represented there in stone.

You also have the Prado Museum, with paintings by Goya and Velázquez, among others, and the centre of the city in general (Las Austrias and Las Letras).

Jamon Jamon in Madrid
Jamon jamon in Madrid

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Madrid?
They should save room for some more Euros to come back again, because there are so many other places to see in and around the city.

You have Toledo, Segovia and Ávila, which are not too far and, for me, a must is the mediaeval town of Chinchón, where the local brew of anís could also be a suitcase filler.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you.

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