The past 48 hours have been dizzying. I am currently on a week-and-a-half vacation from work and spent today attempting to overcome jet lag because I made the trek from Memphis to Madrid! Spending time in these two wildly different places in such a short amount of time has been a unique experience. Memphis is a quintessential American Southern city, complete with barbecue, heat that is too close to being dangerous and weddings where cowboy boots are not only accepted but welcome. I was there for a wedding and loved returning to the South after reaching my six month mark as a West Coaster. But now I am in Madrid, a city with a climate that is much more moderate, food that is debatably less fattening and a culture that can be described as cosmopolitan to the extreme.
I decided a few months ago that I wanted to go to Spain. It was both a sudden realization and the culmination of years of dreaming about perusing the streets of Madrid and Barcelona, gelato in one hand and a Spanish for dummies book in the other (a pre-teen can dream, right?). I love bustling cities. I love distinctive architecture. I love museums. I love beaches. I love food. Spain seemed to offer it all. I kept the destination in the back of my mind as a dream until I realized that I am not only a dreamer, I am a doer! I booked the round-trip ticket the day after that mini epiphany, completely out of character for my hyper-planner personality. I just had this sudden urge to finally see the places I had tucked in a corner of my mind for far too long.
And now I am here! I’ll spend tomorrow visiting the Museo del Prado, Retiro Park and as many must eat places in Madrid as my stomach can handle. And then it’s hey Barcelona!
Want to know what promise I made myself? In between the moments of taking photos and posting the now requisite number of Facebook posts to let the world know I am “having so much fun,” I will people watch, I will wander the streets, I will simply exist, happy to be in the place I have dreamed about for so long.
As a fun ending to this post, here are major differences I have already noticed between Madrid and big cities in the States:
- People are much more engaged with the people they are shopping with, eating with, walking with, etc. because people put their phones down! Imagine my surprise when I popped into a cafe for dinner and saw groups of people all talking and not a single phone in sight. They might be onto something.
- No one asks how you would like your beef cooked before it is served so you might want to just speak up when you order. You’re welcome.
- I see a lot of couples! Is Madrid the second choice city for lovers behind Paris?
- The Metro is WORLDS CLEANER THAN BART. Do better, BART. Residents of The Bay are begging you.
- The cobblestone streets, script letters used to write street names and beautiful architecture (my absolute favorite part) make me feel like I am living in another time. Not sure what time though.
Tomorrow I’ll be back with the obligatory Ps after a day in Madrid; a stomach full of paella and pictures!