Walking Around Madrid
These are some pictures from our wanderings around Madrid. Rather than write a specific post about each one, I thought I’d just give you some of my general impressions of Madrid, and then a slideshow. (I’d recommend a nice tall glass of Sangria to accompany this post.)
My first thoughts upon landing at the Madrid airport was how similar the landscape was to Denver. Very dry, with ground brush in that awkward not-quite-green, not-quite-brown color. And with mountains in the distance! The air was really dry, which I think helped when the temperatures spiked later in the afternoon.
I won’t say too much about the Madrid Metro (since I’m sure Alex will cover that in depth!), but I was quite impressed by the cleanliness of the trains. Not speaking more than 3 or 4 words in Spanish, I was able to navigate quite easily with the colors and numbered lines.
Then we checked in to our Hostal, which was not quite what we’d hoped for, but still perfectly adequate. Our biggest complaint was the lack of a proper window! (We had a window that opened up on to the interior staircase.) Oh, and that they advertised A/C, but didn’t actually have it. The Gran Via neighborhood, where our hotel was, is quite busy and vibrant. I felt like it was not as touristy as others, although at night there were quite a few prostitutes.
When we met our dear friend Bill at his hotel, we took a brief walking tour around the central part of town. The most striking thing about Madrid, which we commented on quite often that first say, is how vibrant the city is. Lots of bright colors! I don’t think I saw a plain white once in the entire time we were there. Even the metro stations are bright yellow or green.
Madrid is definitely a city of balconies. Every building had large windows, that either open onto a Juliet or full-fledged balcony. And the windows with shutters were the best, they could be propped open or closed to let in light and air as needed. These kinds of windows and shutters are not common in the US, but here they added so much to the ambiance!
My last impression of Madrid involves the public squares. Very common in southern Europe, the concept of the square as a center of public influence is important. This is where the people gathered, for good news or bad, and it was experienced socially, as a group. I believe that people still experience the desire to share big events with others, and while television might mean that we all watch it at the same time, we’re all isolated in our own homes. It’s not quite the same thing.
Oh! The other thing about squares is that they are HOT! All that concrete and tile, with no trees! We made a deliberate effort to walk all the way along the edge of the square, in the shade as much as possible, to avoid stepping out into the raging sun! We saw quite a few shops close in the afternoon for a siesta, and I have to say, that’s just about the best idea ever.