IN PICS: How one British woman revived Spain’s love for its own no-frills bars

Two years ago, Leah Pattem, 33, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, embarked on a mission to photograph every fading, no-frills bar she ever visited in Madrid.

IN PICS: How one British woman revived Spain's love for its own no-frills bars
Leah Pattem has documented 100 bars for her Madrid No Frills project. All Photos: Leah Pattem / Madrid No Frills

When her collection finally reached 100, she decided to share them on her blog, hoping to show others what was so special about such everyday places. What she hadn’t expected, however, was that her project would capture the hearts of an entire nation.

“Madrid’s no-frills bars evoke a deep sense of nostalgia in every Spaniard. They were built to last, to be passed down in the family, generation after generation, making them accidental time capsules to the real, working-class Madrid – a side of the city that most foreigners never get to see, but also that local people take for granted,” the founder of Madrid No Frills told The Local

“Despite being lovingly nicknamed ‘lifelong bars’ by locals, they’re increasingly being overlooked in favour of modern, trendy, globalised chains. With low footfall, ageing owners and soaring rent prices, these pretty neighbourhood bars are closing down at unprecedented speeds.”

READ MORE: 'Madrid is a humble city of overlooked treasures and untold stories'

Pattem’s project seems to be working, with her collection of 100 no-frills bars reaching millions of people all around the country and attracting write-ups in several Spanish language media.

“The vision is that of a foreigner, who effortlessly detects the extraordinary in spaces that, to Spaniards, are simply normal,” was the opinion of  one Spanish journalist writing in Yorokobu.

Check out the selection of photos from her collection of 100, below, and next time you see one of these “Paco bars” as they are fondly termed in Spain, spare a moment to contemplate their value…before they disappear forever.

El Palentino on Calle Pez has already closed down after the death of its owner in March 2018. 

Follow Leah's adventures in Madrid on the Madrid No Frills blog, on Facebook and in Instagram


Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.