I lived in a room under the roof. For a week, the glance of sunlight reaching the edge of my window panel was the first thing to wake me up in the morning, and the dark clouds, being shined at by the setting sun from below, the scenery I went to bed with. Starting at the “Aeropuerto de Madrid Barajas” we drove half an hour along desert-like scenery. The Highways we drove on reminded me of “La La Lands” opening highway scene, except for the people not being as joyful. The weather was hot and the ac ran on full power. Looking out of the front window one could see the flickering of the stifling air ascending from the highway tar. Only a few hours later the sky would be filled by dark and heavy clouds, that brought us rainy, yet comfortable weather. It seemed that no matter what conditions there were, you could still make the best out of a day in Madrid and its surrounding suburbs we stayed at.
Monday, April 3rd
It rained. I could tell by the soft sound of raindrops striking my window. The sun had risen later than I was used to and so I overslept. My room still being dark I tried to imagine what the day was going to be like. It never occurred to me that one was capable of imagining the impossible. Laying in my warm bed, staring at the oblique ceiling I waited. Not for anything certain, just for the purpose of seizing the moment. I had woken up in another country, several hundred miles from home, where things worked differently, people communicated in another language and I was a complete stranger. With those thoughts on my mind I went to take a shower.
We took the train to Madrid. With us were people that would spend the day working in the city whilst we were going to spend our free time visiting the “Estadio Santiago Bernabéu”. It was the first time I was being confronted with Madrid’s everyday life, which I think is the purest way of experiencing a city, one is capable of. While driving to the city we passed Madrid’s industrial plain, a raw and dark scenery, which I found very pleasing. The rain still pouring down from the clouds added to this landscape some melancholy. Making our way to Madrid’s central station the amount of people entering the train began to rise. As I had imagined, we were seen as the strangers we were.
Tuesday, April 4th
We arrived at Toledo by bus. Leaving early, we thought we would be able to travel without too many people on the road and the sun being mercifully with us. We were wrong. Whilst the road was empty, the temperature had begun to rise from early on and left us sweating in the stuffy bus, making its way to the south-west. Arriving at 9:30 in the morning we had to buy two bottles of water each in order to keep ourselves hydrated. We really weren’t used to such elevated temperatures as northern Europeans.
Toledo soon soaked us into its old alleys filled with balconies and plants, all painted in dark, warm orange or brown. The houses that were built very high in order to make the most out of the little space there was, added to the sense of height one got when entering the city. The warmth and southern feeling circulating around the city couldn’t have been depictured more perfectly than by El Greco.
Driving back in our stuffy bus, we spend the rest of our evening in Madrid’s “Parque del Buen Retiro”.
Wednesday, April 6th
Next stop was the “Thyssen-Bornemisza” Museum in Madrid. It seems like a harmless building from the outside but once you enter it, the colourful walls and paintings hanging on them soak you in. From renaissance paintings over art nouveau to pop-art, it offers some of the best selections of every art genre there is. Our guide, an elderly Spanish woman made us look closer at each painting, recognizing and acknowledging the insignificant details, you often tend to overlook. I thought of this as a philosophy, applying very precisely to life.
Thursday, April 7th
Once again, we took the stiffy bus. This time to Segovia and, which was in our interest, without the weather being as hot as the other days. Looking out of the dusty windows one could catch a glimpse of the “Peñalara” mountain. Arriving at 9:40 we were some of the first tourists to visit the city. We then made our way to its peak, aiming for the Alcázar of Segovia, an old castle that is now being used as a museum and a military archives building. Looking out of the window we were given an impressive view over the city and its surrounding plains.
Back in Madrid we spend some time in front of the “Edificio España”, which as we were has been bought by a Chinese investment banker. Walking back the setting sun created a fascinating colour that reflected on the buildings located along the side of “Gran Vía”.
Friday, April 8th
Saturday, April 9th
Sunday, April 10th
We stood up early to drive into the city. Making our way to one of the less known parts of Madrid, we found ourselves in between flea market stands, that were offering a variety of vintage goods. From postcards to old advertising signs, the market represented the late 60’s through its details. One stand offered old military equipment such as gasmasks and uniforms, another one offered pocket watches, hanging down from wooden poles. I glanced through the masses and not far away from me, my eyes met Robert Doisneau’s “Le Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville Paris”, right next to a poster of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”. Madrid, city of contrasts.
At five o’ clock in the afternoon we took the plane back. In our thoughts still in one of Madrid’s cafés, eating tapas and feeling the heat of the sun on our skin.
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