Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Introduction to Madrid

I arrived in Madrid at 7:30 a.m. after a tortuous all-night bus ride, instantly comprehending my surroundings to be a throbbing metropolis. I exited the terminal linking the bus station to the metro and almost froze when I found myself facing a fierce stampede of peak-hour commuters. I stood my ground and wheeled my suitcase against the ocean of traffic, surviving untrammeled.
Suddenly my Barcelona home seemed like a serene village. I spent a good portion of my day in the Spanish capital underground, sitting through 40-minute metro rides and walking thousands of meters through terminals. I shook my head at the realization that a bicycle often serves as my principal form of transportation in Barcelona. I wonder if I’m ready for a true metropolitan lifestyle.

I recovered from my initial city shock with my friend Leah, who took me to a café with pastel decor that could have been one of the trendy sweet shops in Charleston, S.C. We ordered Italian-style cappuccinos in memory of our Christmas in Rome.

Madrid is a city of massive highways, palatial buildings, and modern sky scrapers. Even the intensity of the nightlife confounded me. The center swarmed with hundreds of people sitting on terraces, congregating in plazas, and marching through the streets into the balmy morning hours. Crowds donning clubwear even shoved into the metros at 1 a.m.

Many critics discount Madrid as a capital with about as much flavor and mystique as Atlanta or Charlotte. Surely a 24-hour stop-over isn’t enough for a proper assessment, but, in the center at least, I found the regal buildings, landscaped parks, and narrow streets lined with all oddities of continental-style shops enchanting.

We set up an afternoon picnic in a corner of El Retiro, a manicured city-of-a-park with gardens, lawns, and even a lake. We spent the pre-siesta hours wandering past the extravagant landmarks in the Sol quarter. After sunset we took a bus ride past the city’s trademark fountains in all their illuminated splendor. The day ended in a medieval street corner, on the terraza of Chocolatería San Ginés, est. 1894. There we ordered the city’s most famous chocolate and churros, a traditional Spanish breakfast (or more commonly pre-dawn snack) that’s a combination of thick drinking chocolate and fried dough (murder on the arteries, thighs, and the digestive system and not to be repeated).

With sprawling parks, striking architecture, and dark chocolate — my one day as a madrileña was pretty perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Te dejo una esperanza de amor desde la armonia del coaching.




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