Madrid and Barcelona are both major cities in Spain. Although these two cities share the same country, they each feel like different worlds. Barcelona has felt very rebellious and young, and I’ll admit I have always felt a little out of place because I don’t share their Catalan pride. Madrid felt much less concerned about where I was from, but more concerned about where I was going.
For a very long time, Madrid has been a popular tourist destination in Europe. Tourists have been going there for many years to enjoy the various art museums and a traditional Spanish lifestyle. They come to see Las Ventas, which is the most renowned bull-fighting ring in the world. They come to enjoy tapas and churros. I experienced all these things during my visit to Madrid, but the typical tourist attractions were not the source of my love for the city.
It rained all weekend. The worn down cobblestone streets shimmered with the sleek coat of water. Even though the rain was relentless and quite rare for Madrid, the city did not seem to show its displeasure. In search of some tapas, I walked around some back streets in my attempt to find a good place. Of course, I had absolutely no idea where to go so I found myself reading every menu posted in front of a restaurant. At one of the restaurants while I was looking at a menu, a guy came up to me and said in Spanish, “This is a really good place. It is very cheap and I eat here every day!” I was a little suspect, so I asked him if he worked there. He just shook his head and laughed as he walked inside. The restaurant consisted of about three small tables and a bar. I ordered a calamari sandwich and a tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet), both typical dishes of the Madrid area. The sandwich came out with mayo and the calamari rings packed inside a crispy baguette. After devouring that, I turned to the tortilla, which satisfied me with a hefty portion of eggs, potatoes, and onion. Feeling very content with both the traditional food and the atmosphere, I looked at the bill to see that the whole thing cost about four euros.
Late that night I decided to wonder around the city. I sat at a small square in between streets barely wide enough to fit a car. There was a bar on each of the four corners with outdoor seating for each one. I watched as the locals jubilantly exchanged various news and gossips with each other. About five or six friends would be packed around a small table. Not one person in the square gave off a negative vibe. Soon the rain began to trickle down again, and the people in the square carried on with their night as if it was the best night of their lives. I didn’t interact with anyone, but it was in this moment that I felt the truly welcome in the city of Madrid.
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<p>My name is Torin Anderson and I am a junior English major at Gustavus Adolphus College. I am involved in hockey and ultimate frisbee as well as the Gustavus Choir. Aside from making various painful puns, I enjoy writing just about anything, and will take any excuse to travel.</p>