I had never been to Madrid before moving here as a student, and it took so little time for me to fall in love with la capital. And yes, even while a pandemic is troubling the whole world. What impressed me first about the city were perhaps the most obvious reasons why anybody would fall in love with this place. The majestic look of the streets, the beautiful palaces and churches which echo a history of refinement and richness, the vast museums which host art for any liking, and the astonishing parks with gardens counting with some of the most elegant designs ever conceived… But what really stole my heart here is something that perhaps takes a bit closer observation, and maybe the willingness to be a bit poetic, which is the light.
Light in Madrid works in a way that I have never seen before, it reflects itself on the facades of pale buildings, setting on the run to bounce from one edge to the other in a harmony that almost magically ends up enlightening even the darkest of corners. From sunrise to sunset the city of Madrid is unveiled through a light dynamism which colors the streets in every shade and reflection of the Iberian sun.
The immediate effect of such flare is that of a balmy sensation of comfortness when facing life in la hermosa Madrid, a comfort inspired by not only the ambience as I mentioned, but by its people. The Madrileños are unique in the way they stand in the crossway between extremely elegant and refined on one hand, yet still accessible and affable on the other. Never have I felt so welcome in a major capital city, never so at ease in such little time in a metropolis. It’s almost like Madrid is really just a small town, forced in the shell of a city to make up for the grandeur a city needs to be home to a king.
The perceivement of Madrid as a city with the spirit of a homey town is not only due to the pleasantness of its people and environment I believe, but to the ease with which one can get around. I have spent my best days in Madrid walking about the city, and I figured that I would get from one side of the city to the other in very little time, that I could just walk to reach most places I wanted to. For this very reason the city becomes much less extraneous, you get to know its ways, you take a look at all the stores you walk by and familiarize yourself with their looks and vibes, with the people who are inside and out of them. And then you decide to sit down in a cafe that might have caught your attention on the way, you share some delicious tapas and sangria and get to know who works there. It feels like Madrid was designed to make you feel at home.
Even in the case of having to reach somewhere further away, maybe too far to walk, you can then rely on some of the most efficient and cleanest public transportation systems I have ever seen. Not only this, but transportation in Madrid turns out to also be extremely affordable, and especially as students: with twenty Euros per month you can access all sorts of public transportation in the whole Community of Madrid. Students’ pockets cannot but cheer in joy. On top off all this, while the rest of Europe is under the yoke of another confinement, here in Madrid I was lucky enough to be discovering places and people, I am walking through astonishing art galleries everyday, following classes on campus, having drinks on some of the countless rooftops that dominate the breathtaking view over of the city. Everything just adds up for one to get to the conclusion that living here as a student is little less than a blessing. It is a privilege.