There has been no city that had surprised me as much as Madrid. The food and wine is obviously a given. But, it’s the architecture and opulence that had me at, “Hello”. It’s like a less-stuffy Paris. (Sorry Paris, I love you.) But, let’s all get a big glass of wine and walk around the San Miguel Market sampling cheese and other delightful goodies. While we are at it, we can wander into Plaza Mayor and snap a few shots of fat Spiderman and drink a bottle of cava. (You will find in Spain, as opposed to France, they do not judge you for drinking a bottle of wine… rather, they encourage it.)
Madrid works like any other world-class city, they feed you well, dress you well, and have beautiful spaces for the plebeians to roam around. The park El Retiro, is a gorgeous space to escape the busy city life. In the spring, the blossoms blanket the park like icing on a cake. If you trust your sea-legs, you can hire a small rowboat and putter around the pond-ish sized lake, or visit the Crystal House steps away, a) to use the toilets; and b) to take some ground-breaking photographs.
Pro-tip: There are so many great spots to eat, but if you spot a restaurant in the La Latina neighbourhood, called Restaurante Botin, you have just stumbled across the oldest restaurant in the world. No big deal!
Like California, there is a mountain range called the Sierra- Nevada Mountains. This is the home of the famous Andalusian horse, Busephalus, that Alexander the Great rode into battle. If you are lucky, you can see the great horses roaming free in the mountains. If you are less lucky, you will arrive in April in to several feet of snow. The hiking culture in the South of Spain seems slight, with but a few timid souls exploring the wondrous paths of their vast National Park. While hiking here occupies the better part of your day, the small town pubs, yea, those one-room, come-into-my-living-room-establishments where they serve beer and bacon sandwiches for one euro combined, are not to be overlooked.
Sooooooo yes, there may have been an accidental pilgrimage. Easter is an important time for the people of Spain (AKA, the people who dress up suuuuuper spooky and march through town in their spookiness.) I remember Easter feeling different. There were always more chocolate bunnies and less oppressive, black-masked people over the weekend. In a Spanish Tradition dating back to the 15th Century, members of the many confraternities march in a silent procession on Good Friday. The mask, called the capirote, dates back to the Spanish Inquisition. The face is covered as a sign of mourning the death of Christ. The Capriote is removed on Sunday in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. (If you already knew that, why the heck are you still reading?)
Ok, so yeah, that got weird, but la Hombre is worth the shifty sidestepping through throngs of people in a spooky parade.
Whew, it’s Easter weekend and I’m chilling on this Spanish beach eating seafood. I’m pretty sure 100 people just unfollowed me on Instagram because it’s snowing in Canada and they, “Just can’t”. But whatever, at least my mom still follows me and that’s really who I write this for!
So, everything is ok here. How could 28 degrees, sun and ocean be bad? Well, actually, there was a cute little 8 kilometer “Miner’s hike” that I decided to do before the beach, you know, to feel productive before a lazy beach day… well, let’s just say the f#$%ers lied. It was like 14 kilometers, straight up! My tank top etched itself into my skin in hot red patches. I AM A SPICY MEATBALL. Sunburns hurt.
Seville, nice- my sunburn hurts. I leave you now to bath in aloe vera.