Final Reflections on Madrid

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Because Madrid, in reality, is nothing special. It doesn't have a great river. Nor does it have many skyscrapers.Or canals or lakes. Or glorious ruins. Or the sea. Madrid lacks a lot of things. But it has people in the streets. The unexpected street corners. The variety. The contrast. Constant busyness. And it has its customs. It's worth getting up early, just once, to live the Madrid life."

Bags packed and I'm on the bus to Valencia. Last night was my last night in Madrid for a while, if not forever(!) and I spent it almost exactly as I spent my first night here, stuffing my face with naan bread in Lavapiés. We had gone to watch Jack dominate the Madridleño music scene in El Gato Verde, a cute little bar off a side street from the main plaza.

Unfortunately I can't upload videos here but if you're in Zaragoza tonight go check them out! You can find them on Facebook under Jake Shane Music.

Walking home we remarked about how we'd feel uneasy walking through the streets as four girls in our own towns at home but that even in Lavapiés, which doesn't have a reputation for being the safest area, we felt comfortable making our way through the winding streets after midnight.

I think last night I realised how at home I feel in Madrid already. Walking through the streets of my neighbourhood I can say hello to the people who run the bakery, who work in the local supermarket and yesterday my green grocers gave me a present when I said I was leaving. It was the bunch of bananas I was intending to buy...but still, I appreciated the sentiment.

Madrid is constantly compared to Barcelona and constantly loses out due to its lack of beauty and tourist appeal. But to really live, you couldn't ask for a better city. Above all I'll remember Madrid for the atmosphere you find in the streets. That's such a pithy word to use but people need to come here and experience it themselves to understand. Walk down Fuencarral with a silly grin on your face because there's some kind of infectious happiness going round.

Of course this year would not have been the same without the amazing friends I've made, and even if some of them live 3000 miles away now I'm absolutely certain our paths will cross again. Moving in with Crystal, Emilio and later Anna was a huge stroke of luck and I'm so grateful to them for an amazing year!

Essentially, I'm going to let one of the great thinkers of the 20th century tell you how I feel right now:

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

That was Winnie the Pooh, by the way.

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