Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain


with 3 comments

I’m in Madrid! In twenty years, I’ve been fortunate to have seen some pretty cool cities: New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Quebec, Seoul, Mexico City, San Juan…but this week has just put Madrid at the top of the list. Madrid is hands-down the nicest city I have ever been to.

This is a BANK. Why don't banks in Lexington look like this?

In fairness, I’m in the most touristy part of the city: el centro, or “downtown.” So my view of Madrid is probably somewhat idealized. I’m like the tourist who has been to Manhattan, but not Staten Island, or perhaps a tourist who has seen Washington’s Mall, but not Pentagon City.

Pentagon City: Welcome to paradise.

Still, despite my limited perspective, I love Madrid. This city is beautiful. Even aside from all the historical buildings and the winding, cobbled streets, there’s something about the atmosphere here. The city feels alive. Everywhere you go, there are fruit stands and flower vendors. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of bars and cafés with terrazas (outdoor seating).

Some of the things I’ve done:

– Plaza de Cibeles: This is the place where mobs form after a Real Madrid victory. Cool fountain, right?

– Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Awesome art museum. It’s got a little bit of everything, from 16th century Dutch paintings to 1950s pop art. My favorite piece was Picasso’s “La comida frugal.”

– Parque de Buen Retiros: Picture Central Park, but a thousand times cooler. There are fountains, tree-lined avenues, gardens, candy vendors, portrait artists, and aggressive flower vendors everywhere. Actually, one of the aforementioned flower vendors called me “cara de loco” (crazy-face) after I politely declined to buy a flower from her. But I suppose that’s pretty mild invective for street vendors.

– Plaza de la Independencia: Huge, flower-lined arch dedicated to King Charles III.

– Librerías de Cuesta de Moyano: Nestled right behind the Prado is a side street, Cuesta de Moyano. The whole street is lined with used book vendors, sort of like the booksellers along the Seine in Paris. You can buy 2 books for 1 euro! I bought a play by Jacinto Benavente.

Thus far the only disappointment with Madrid is my timing…apparently like half the city leaves for June and August, so there are a bunch of restaurants closed. Also, there are renovations ongoing on two of the museums I wanted to see (el Museo Naval y el Museo Arqueológico Nacional). Bummer.

Well, this post has gotten ridiculously long, so I’m going to end it here and make another Madrid post at the end of this week. ¡Hasta luego!


Written by Lee

August 28, 2011 at 14:52

Posted in Spain

3 Responses

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  1. Madrid’s the nicest place you’ve been to because you haven’t been to Chicago yet. We’ll fix you, don’t worry.


    August 30, 2011 at 20:26

    • Haha thanks Brendan! I have too been to Chicago. O’Hare counts, right?


      August 31, 2011 at 02:53

      • Going to O’Hare but not downtown is like going to JFK or Queens and not going to Manhattan.


        August 31, 2011 at 11:13

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