Blog and translations

Old hobbies, new friends

Last week I wrote about feeling a bit overwhelmed in the city with all its possibilities. On top of that, many experiences are less enjoyable without friends to share them with. So this week I want to share with you three things that have helped me meet great people and share great experiences.

The first means was to find an open bike workshop, a place where people work on a voluntary basis and everyone can learn how to maintain and repair their own bike. Although I don’t own a bike here, I also love to wrench on other people’s bikes. An open workshop seemed like a great place to meet people, practice Spanish and maybe get to know a less touristy part of the city. Unfortunately, however, I had found hardly any information about such a place in advance. The pandemic seems to have wiped them all out, and the ones I found were far from the flat in Alcorcón. Amusingly, when I was selling the fork of a bike I’d bought in the country and dismantled because it had a stuck/frozen seatpost, I met a very nice guy who recommended an open bike repair shop I didn’t know about. So I spent a whole afternoon there fixing bikes and talking to people. I’ll leave you the link in case you’re ever in Madrid and like fixing bikes: Taller Social Bici la Guindalera.

The second resource I haven’t used much yet, but I’m sure it works well. It involves apps and offers that allow you to socialise. On the one hand, there are several online platforms, and on the other hand, there are many social activities in the city. In the first week, I spent some time using the Meetup app to search for events, because there are all kinds of activities advertised in and around Madrid. From calisthenics, to hiking, to literary circles and pub crawls, there’s something for everyone. For those who prefer the analogue approach, there are several “Free Walking Tours” in the city centre, where guides show you around the city and its sights. These guided walks always attract a lot of tourists, so they are also a good opportunity to meet people. Finally, it occurred to me that it might be possible to use Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid and the other dating apps to find people, although people don’t always reply on these apps (on many of them you can also indicate that you are looking for friends).

Free circus training in the Tabacalera

The third resource is one that never fails and which I am very grateful for: the slackline community (or any other super niche hobby that is represented in the city you want to visit). Santy, a vagabond in the slackline scene who has been to Bern several times, added me to the local WhatsApp group and I immediately got in touch with people. Thanks to Cristina, Fang and Nathan, I was able to join a circus training at Tabacalera, go climbing and hiking in the mountains and spend a great Sunday in the park doing AcroYoga and sunbathing. By now I feel very welcome and sometimes I even feel like I have too many things on my plate. I return to the flat exhausted almost every evening from Thursday to Sunday and am grateful for the quieter days during the week. Thus, I use my old passions and hobbies, especially slacklining, to meet new people, which as always works out great and is really fun. If you ever go to Madrid yourself, I can pass on a few contacts.