we were less than 24 hours in Madrid to see our son who is working there at the moment, but it reminded me of what a great city Madrid is. we arrived just in time for dinner at a traditional restaurant Bar Castela, on Calle doctor Castelo, with friends and alfie. so many restaurants have gone modern and swish, so its nice to see that Madrid still has retained some of its old style. we stayed in hotel Emperorador which was very central, a bit like staying on Oxford street, but it was close to alfie, so convenient. For one night, practical is what is important. There was also a swimming pool on the roof, very useful considering Madrid’s heat. even for the end of September it was well over 33 C. in the morning we did a bit of shoe shopping – espadrilles at cash hernanz – amazing selection of traditional espadrilles – all colours and styles and very affordable, and next door Robert bought a pair of sandals similar to the ones you would have worn at school as a toddler. we strolled down to Santa Ana which has lovely independent shops and some vintage and bric and brac. on the first Saturday of each month there is a street market there. . we passed by the mercado San Miguel – a revamped market similar to borough market with lots of appetising Spanish food. I love that street markets are now the hub of modern life, rather that they become fashionable than they be closed and turned into apartments. we lunched at the famous Casa Salvador, a lovely restaurant with gingham tablecloths, bullfight pictures on the wall, and movie stars who over the year have frequented the place. famously Ava gardener, sat hiding from Frank Sinatra with her matador lover. the food was both simple and delicious. we then headed towards the train station Atocha, with its stunning botanical garden, caught the Ave fast train to seville to visit our house in vejer for a few days – its that time of year after the long summer months to tidy, clean and repair. its a busy weekend, but one thats interesting combining the city life with the sea side.