I don’t like Madrid.
It’s a nice city, don’t get me wrong, but everytime i go i come back home feeling like i didn’t see anything different.
It is also a very big city and i doubt that i’ve seen enough as to have a 100% valid opinion, so you are warned.
The spanish capital has comercial streets, hundreds of stores, parks, squares, palaces, restaurants and all sorts of things to do, so i just want to make it clear for whoever wants to visit will not regret it, so i think this post will fundamentally be about how weird i am that i don’t really like Madrid, and how about i will probably have to go again in the future, but would not return as a tourist, if that makes sense.
Readers must understand, i come from Montevideo, a city founded by spanish people, where the first residents came from Buenos Aires and Canary Islands as well, meaning spanish coming from spanish (first argentinian), and then more spanish people. It’s only logic that part of montevidean culture is spanish, and that you can see it in it’s arquitechture.
Everytime i walk around Madrid i feel like i’m seeing a gigantic hybrid between Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and just adding Barcelona’s european air, a city where i lived in for so many years of my life, a city that to my eyes, will never have any competitors.
I’m not saying they’re the same, they are not even alike. Madrid and Barcelona have clearly defined personalities each one of them, but if i had to choose one, i would take Barcelona on a heartbeat, and if i had to choose a spanish city for my big european trip, i would also choose Barcelona, no doubt about it. If you want to listen to me or not, that’s on you 🙂
Madrid is more city and dirt. More downtown Buenos Aires and more Salvo Palace (a montevidean building!). Less Barcelona and more Montevideo is an equation that never works for me, i want things to be different than the ones i used to see as a child. I want to be surprised and to feel like it was worth it to get out of my hometown. Madrid wins some points for being a capital city with a rich gastronomic and night life, but it does not win enough points to generate in me a desire to go again. Paris does that to me. London does too.
It is almost mandatory for me to make this clear: He or she who seeks a ‘spanish experience’ with tapas, bulls, sangría and ‘olé’ will be more likely to find it in Madrid rather than Barcelona. Barcelona is catalan, and no one will ever take that away from that city.
Madrid is rush hour, lots of people, industrial amounts of traffic and a dash of pollution.
But Madrid is also the city i thought about when i was little and listening to my mom’s music, or watching all those ninties spanish tv shows and dreaming about being a part of such fun. In my mind there was no Barcelona, no difference to my eyes, i did not know Catalunya existed or Catalan as a language, so Madrid was for years my only spanish reference.
It’s not all complaints, there’s a lot of beautiful things to see and try in this enormous city.
Retiro’s Crystal Palace.
In my last Madrid trip i got to see Retiro Park’s Crystal Palace, i was so excited to see it! I think they found out i was coming, because it was closed.
Luckily, it’s made out of glass, so you can easily see into it. It was empty inside, so i didn’t miss out on anything, even though i would’ve loved to go in, i would’ve felt a bit disappointed by the sight of modern art or some shitty exposition like they usually have in this places… I would like to see it like it was back in the time, with antique garden furniture or something like that, i don’t know how it really was but i imagine people like Sissi the empress, and all very romantic in it’s esthetics.
This crystal palace was inspired in the one they had in London, and i think that if Cinderella would have had to rent a place for her wedding this should’ve been the one. It just suits her. The wedding theme? CRYSTAL. BAAAM! I think i’m going to quit writing and make myself a career out of event planning, i think it’s a gift i have.
The palace is simply amazing, and it’s impossible not to imagine certain characters running around, like taken out of a Velazquez’s painting, The meninas in their little dresses and huntsman with their weird hunting pants, making a pause and grabbing a bite before going back to duck hunting or whatever they were doing.
By the door there is a lake where you can see ducks, swans and all sorts of birds, besides a spectacular flora, this park is very well taken care of. It is very curious, that this lake is actually artificial, there’s even a set of stairs that take you to the bottom of the ‘lake’, very Ruiz Zafón’s novel-like, there must be something dark in the bottom of that lake, like you would slowly walk down the stairs as your pants get soaked, until you find a porcelain doll’s head and everything you lived in that park suddenly makes sense… Weird things…
As we left this part of the park, it was starting to rain, as i took pictures of the black swans… People went crazy because they were coming near us, looking for food. Altough i must say, there’s that feelig when animals approach you and you feel like ‘ms. animal whisperer’ master of all things in nature. That is, of course, until they see you have no food and move on.
If you want to visit Madrid, go ahead. I doubt you, who are reading this in english right now are from any place that has resemblance to it, so don’t let a stupid blog post stop you!