Thursday, August 2, 2012

Magical Madrid

The last time I was in Spain, or Europe for that matter, was when I was on holiday while living in Haifa, Israel.  All of that was pre-New York City. 

I planned a last minute trip to Portugal, via an hour connection in Madrid.  As all JFK travelers know, no flight is truly ever on time, due to “weather conditions”.  With 40 minutes between flights, I sprinted across the Madrid airport trying to get to a gate that literally took an hour to get to…down the long, long corridors, through security (with weird plastic socks on my feet – don’t ask), waiting for a bus to the terminal which only comes every 20 minutes, watching the screen as my flight totally disappears….it’s gone.

I will not get into the details of the next few hours because it was a lot of waiting, walking between terminals, waiting, waiting, walking, walking…and finally I decided to have Delta airlines put me up in a hotel for the night and on the same flight the following morning.  To me, this beat waiting in the airport all day for an evening flight and I could, instead, actually enjoy Madrid. 

I was now on Delta’s dollar – they gave me a (really nice) hotel to stay in, all my meals paid for (which included 3 course meals as penne carbonara as an appetizer), and a shuttle to and from the airport.  Well the least I could do is spend 3 Euros and go into the city to explore.  After a good nap that lasted until 7pm (darn jet-lag!) I found myself in this magical city of Madrid.  I had received a good ‘ol map from the hotel receptionist of places I should see, and I set out from my Metro stop – wandering. 

The last time I was in Spain, it was pre-New York City life.  This was a totally different experience.  The simple nuances of urban life weren’t a challenge, but a norm.  It took away the stumbling blocks of trains and buses and crowds and noise and waiting and walking.  And it gave way to just simply enjoying.  Not having a single expectation, I would turn corners and completely gasp in awe at the beauty before me.  I can’t wait to upload the photos from the SLR on to because it was a true joy to take those shots.  Everything about Madrid surprised me.  The kindness of the people, the easiness of the commuting, the intricacies of the architecture, the openness of the plazas, and the classy and laid-back nature of everyone I saw.  

The last location circled on my map was the Catedral.  I walked up and was literally blown away.  I stood in the immense courtyard at dusk, when the sky was blue blue, and the air had a perfect combination of dew and crisp.  I took a really slow breath in and released.  It was an arrival of sorts.  A right of passage.  I stood there just overwhelmed with gratitude.  How lucky.  I say that a lot, but I also tend to forget it a lot, unfortunately.  But how lucky.  If you had asked me in June if I would be breathing in Spanish air on a cool summer night, I’d have declared a definite no.  But, you know, things happen all the time that we don’t expect.  We have just to believe and to take that first step.

No comments: