The love affair continues.
No, dear, I am not asking for a divorce.
I am admitting, however, my ongoing and apparently lifelong love for Madrid.
I was able to sneak in a one week visit to Madrid in May, accompanied by my undergraduate partners-in-crime, Nina and Charlie. I would venture a guess that they, too, continue to be enraptured by the charms of Madrid. Our trip was perfect. Not a flaw. When does that ever happen?
It’s just a city, though. How does a city exert such a powerful pull? How does a city elicit such a long-lasting impact on a person? On multiple people?
Here’s how. Madrid is a city that is all about relationship: a concrete jungle that is oh, so human. Life is lived on the streets, walking and talking. The goal of both is pleasure, the pleasure of walking and the pleasure of conversing. If you are walking, it may be that you have an eventual destination in mind, but along the way you will certainly stop to look in a storefront window, or better yet, stop to punctuate a story with a raised arm or a puff of air in consternation. You may often walk arm in arm with your friend.
Poet Vicente Aleixandre describes this energy, movement and interaction in his poem “En la plaza” (click here for the poem in Spanish). He tells the reader not to waste time asking questions while looking in the mirror. Instead, he says, you must go down to the street and enter into the flow of humanity, where the individual heart joins the heartbeat of humanity, and there is an “aroma of existence”.
Relationships, walking and talking. Nina, Charlie and I spent one week focused on all three. (We ate a lot, too, but that is a different blog post.) We dove into the flow of humanity on the streets, reconnecting with long lost friends, but also enjoying conversation with people we met along the way. There was the vermouth bar with Angeles, still beautiful and intelligent; roast lamb with Carlos and Neli and no-longer “little” Carlitos; tapas with Aden, reliving some of our more naive moments in Spain; drinks with Gonzalo, a new friend for Nina and Charlie, and ever so discreet discussion of the royal family; a reprisal visit with Carlos and Carlitos to watch a Real Madrid game in a nearby pub. I was also able to spend a night at Esther and Manolo’s home, where I am always fed well, both in food and conversation on the state of affairs in Spain. And the original impetus for my visit: I was able to spend time with Elena, dear Elena, who humanized my graduate school experience, as well as Manolo, Aurora and their children, now grown, productive adults.
We also walked about 10 miles/day through our favorite areas of Madrid, we went to a Real Madrid soccer game, we toured the soccer museum at the stadium and found the new rooftop bar in the former Correos building near the Cibeles fountain.
Is all this activity making anyone else thirsty yet?
Yes, we hydrated often, Nina and Charlie opting for Ribera del Duero wines, while I preferred Verdejos. House glasses of wine, big pours, great quality, for under $3/glass.
In Spanish, to gushingly tell someone you looooove their shoes, their hair, or that glass of Verdejo wine, you say “me encanta”, or “it enchants me”.
Madrid enchants me. Madrid is enchanting. Forever and ever and ever.