Mi Ciudad

MADRID: Fri 27th – Sat 28th

Madrid. Ciudad de mi corazón. 

To explain what Madrid means to me would require a full length novel of words. For a seventeen year old from Marietta, Georgia, Madrid was a bright, colorful wonderland full of exotic, strange food, high heels and dresses, gorgeous Spanish men and women, buildings older and more artful than anything I had ever seen, cobblestone streets, histories laid upon histories, world class museums, Madrileños who never sleep and newly made, good friends, the entire atmosphere punctuated by that thick Castellano accent which made all of my high school Spanish seem absolutely null and void. 

I could write a book on my experiences here, the nooks and crannies I love, the art, the statues, the parks, my host family. We had two nights and a single day in Madrid. Not enough, not enough. We arrived at Atocha station via AVE, the high speed train; upon leaving the station I had to laugh at the sight of a bunch of Madrileños waiting for the pouring rain to pass. I suppose in most places it’s common enough to wait for the rain to pass. Having lived in Oregon for the last decade, rain is common enough. If you wait for it to pass, you’ll be waiting forever. 

Waiting for the rain to pass

Grandma and I met up with Natalia, José and Patricia for dinner that evening. After the initial, exuberant, two kiss greeting, it felt as if I had never left. There are people you meet and know in life where distances simply don’t matter. That is how I feel about this family- loud, gregarious, expressive, and jovial, they are an absolute joy, and I am thankful beyond words for them taking me into their home and sharing their love of family, food, country and culture with me. 

After dinner, we dropped Grandma off at the hotel, and my family and I went out to walk the old town. Passing old haunts along Las Huertas, Gran Vía, the Puerta del Sol full of la revolución, La Plaza Mayor always ghostly and beautiful no matter the hour. Borrachos, lovers, loud youth and refined adults crowding the streets. Madrid’s true face is the wee hours of dawn- the later you walk the streets, the busier the city becomes. 

A 7am wake up call comes early after a Friday evening in Madrid. The last day of the tour was primarily for my grandmother, as Madrid is a very intimate and well-known place for me. You just cannot see Madrid in a day- in any one of the city’s Triangle of Art museums it would be easy to spend an entire day, let alone seeing the central old city and eating at the myriad of tabernas. At this point my camera had died so no pictures of the Prado for me. Earlier in the week I toasted my straight iron crisper than dead (apparently the converter I brought didn’t habla español voltage) so I had been nervous to try to charge my one and only camera battery. Now that the camera battery was dead, I was willing to give it a go, so I rushed back to the hotel to squeeze about 20 minutes worth of charge into the battery for the rest of our day. 

For the remainder of the day, my grandmother and I toured the Royal Palace as she is completely enamored by old world charm and wealth. We then wandered the old heart of the city, traipsed along cobblestone streets, peered into windows and churches and took in the lunchtime crowd at my favorite, soul-searching corner of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor. 

El Palacio Real

La Plaza Mayor

street artists in La Plaza Mayor

There are people and places and moments in life that are dear and precious to us. We hold them close to us, for they sustain us. Among the myriad, secret places of my heart, Spain remains.