The worst winter in decades – brrr a thought of that instantly makes me shiver. I have to admit, summer is and always will be my favourite season and I can’t help but wander back into that time I spent in Madrid, visiting my best friend Ruth. It was midsummer, a rainy day here in the UK, which didn’t really matter anymore as I was only 3 hours away from Spain.
After a slightly uncomfortable flight I was finally there! 35C heat, incredibly bright sunshine and that electric blue sky made me feel like I arrived to my own kind of paradise. It felt like my eyes are finally waking up from a deep winter sleep, wide open, seeing things in all different colours. I was ready to explore.
Camera in hand, sunglasses on and there I was standing in the centre of one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. My long walk started at the Plaza de Cibeles, a complex of marble sculptures and fountains – the iconic symbol of Madrid, and continued towards Metropolis – a quite famous building designed to represent mining, agriculture, industry and commerce. What amazed me was that black rounded tower glittering it the sun, it was covered with 30,000 leaves of 24 carat gold – beautiful.
And then, just when I passed Metropolis I was immediately blown away by the incredible architecture surrounding me, it was Alcala and Gran Via street. The Gran Vía is considered a showcase of early 20th-century architecture, with patterns ranging from Vienna Secession style, Plateresque, Neo-Mudéjar, Art Deco and others.
My walk didn’t end there, that day I also visited Plaza de Callao – a perpetually crowded square, surrounded by tall buildings – such a description evokes New York or Tokyo, rather than the more sedate and compact cities of Europe. Magnificent. I also passed the Plaza Puerta del Sol, one of the city’s most lively places and a home to the famous symbol of Madrid – El Oso y El Madroño: a 20 ton statue of a bear eating fruits from a tree.
Exploring is great, but I have to admit, my favourite part of the day was sitting in a tiny restaurant just outside the Plaza de Mayor, drinking wine and tasting all sorts of Spanish tapas. The evening sun was slowly sliding down the walls of surrounding buildings covering their orange exterior with a dark red mask and I knew, my day just could not get better.
I loved everything about Madrid, the weather was perfect, food was the joy to my soul and the touch of Spanish culture was all I needed to be happy.
Streets full of tiny shops and boutiques, fabulous flowery balconies and sidewalks full of cheery people. That’s the life – I thought! For an artistic soul like mine, this city would always be inexhaustible source of inspiration.
That week I visited Prado Museum where I fell in love with Salvador Dali’s Person at the Window painting and was more than happy to find a copy of it in a local souvenir shop. It is now proudly hanging on my mother’s living room wall.
I spent every morning by the pool soaking in the sun and every afternoon walking around Madrid, visiting cafes and restaurants, tasting tapas, sea food and Spanish wine, listening to stories about this magical place.
One of the last places I visited was the Retiro Park and I really cannot define the peace and relaxation I felt walking those beautiful paths surrounded by tall trees, leading me to the central focus of the park – Crystal Palace. The sunshine bounces of the glass walls and makes the nearby lake all glittery. Couples are walking around hand in hand, kids cannot hide their excitement seeing little turtles coming out of the lake to say hello and others simply laze around on the steps of palace and listen to street entertainers perform.
Crystal Palace is a fabulous tourist attraction however, I was a little bit more impressed with a gorgeous Rose Garden located nearby – roses, roses everywhere! Beautiful arches cover the garden and a mesmerising little fountain decorates the middle of it. To my disappointment the Rose Garden was closed for the day however, I did get a chance to take a photo to illustrate my story.
On my way back to the apartment I had a huge smile on my face thinking to myself: this is a one fabulous city but, how many others are there to yet be discovered by me? We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. I wish I had more vacation days.