I learned how to be alone, two years ago, in this beautiful city. Only a few weeks ago I returned to Madrid for the first time since I had left. Everything in my life had changed completely, but the city that taught me so much remained the same.
Although places can seem indifferent to the people that inhabit it, they have the fantastic ability to nurture you in a way you never thought possible until you open yourself up to the experience. I lived in Madrid to attend a study abroad program where I didn't even know my classmates at first and was forced to let my independence take over. Everyday, I would explore the city, visiting new places I had never seen before, and later rest in my tiny bedroom and feel contentment wash over me. A new community I had never interacted with before began to develop.
I started to notice that usual routines I had in New York, often having to do with physical needs such as sleep, food and exercise, completely changed. New rituals emerged, ones that fit better with my new needs in this new city where their historic culture started to inform my own. I would stay up later, eat later, had less anxiety and an overall sense of well being. I also took initiative to do things I always wanted to do for myself. The refreshing new energy in the city was vastly different from New York. Its refined and laid back atmosphere during the day led me to museums and art galleries, it let me take naps in the middle of the afternoon and drink coffee in the same place they serve tequila shots. At night, the energy of Madrid transformed into something static and even more colorful. I realized that the environment in which you live in is directly correlated to your overall state of being. A high energy city like New York can stimulate your mind at any hour, but at the same time can easily deplete you if you need simplicity. Change of place can alter your entire mindset, so completely, that you find yourself revitalizing your rituals to meet your new space. I was ecstatic to find that I was not a stagnant being, but capable of moving and flowing in new directions. I never would have fully understood that until I ventured outside of my comfort zone.
Madrid will always hold a special place in my heart because it fed me exactly what I needed at the time; a new perspective on life. Change may be frightening, but only because there is fear of the unknown. Eliminate the fear, and you are immediately free to do anything.
My Favorite Things To Do
- My favorite neighborhood is Malasaña, it's hip.
- Parque Del Retiro, is an incredibly beautiful park that I took a lot of naps in right next to the Prado.
- Museo Del Prado, home of Goya's famous Majas (a direct insperation), Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, lots of Velazquez, and (in my opinion, very ugly) Flemish art.
- Carmencita's for brunch - okay its American-style brunch, but its absolutely the BEST brunch you will ever have. 1 euro mimosas. Used to go every weekend.
- La Bicicleta for coffee, a place to work on your laptop, and a shot of tequila at any hour.
- Tierra, A burrito bar where I had my first burrito!
- Museo de Reina Sofia - check out Picasso's Guernica. It highlights a prominent battle in the the Spanish civil war.
- If you're into futbol, go to a soccer game at the Santiago Bernabeau stadium.
- The metro & buses in Madrid are on point. They always come at the precise time they say they will.
- Temple of Debod, an Egyptian monument on the edge of the city.
- Cien Montaditos, a chain restaurant that sells tiny sandwiches and large beers.
- For shits and giggles, if you like to party, Kapital, a crazy club with 7 something floors.
- Space Monkey, my personal favorite bar that has lots of good music to dance to (or at least did back in 2014).
- El Tigre, super popular tapas bar, spend 5 euros on a drink and get unlimited tapas!
- Check out Flamenco! Corral de la Moreria is a fancy place for dinner and show.
Make a point to learn about the history of Spain. It is a beautiful and geographically diverse country that has been through a lot of political turmoil, has many different cultures, and has yielded a spirit in its people that is Unique and refreshing.
Spain has my heart, now go see for yourself!
Next: Valencia, Spain