An Illustrated Guide to Why Madrid is not Shite.

I will admit that I expected Madrid to be a bit like all your favourite celebrities in 2016. A bit dead.

2017 was the year I learned to appreciate underrated cities. Like Mandalay, Da Nang and Salinas before it – cities I previously didn’t give a toss about managed to impress me beyond realisation. Madrid was one of them.

I didn’t do my usual circuit of Catholicism, museums and restaurants that sell pasta, so what was it that sold Madrid to me?

The Architecture

Romantic in that wistful summery way that the continent does so well. I was expecting the architecture to be a bit concrete (which, when done well *cough* London’s brutalist babes *cough* is fine… but Madrid is pretty.

The food is good.

It’s not Italy, and I’ll never say that it is. It’s not croissants at Des Gateaux et Du Pain in Paris and I’d be lying if I said it was. But, if you are like me and can eat your actual body weight in churros and serrano ham, then Madrid is definitely a strong contender for any foodies. I had an impeccable honey mustard and black pepper pork at a restaurant I didn’t learn the name of, and the rest of the time I ate my body weight in churros.

Culture

I first wanted to go to Madrid to see Los Miserables (Spanish Les Mis) which had such a strong cast (Ignasi Vidal as Javert, what a husband). But equally there’s lots of other cultural things, none of which I involved myself in but I appreciate they were there.

They don’t take themselves too seriously

The range of hills called Seven Tits. Seven of ’em. *Red from Orange is the New Black voice* “It’s fucking funny!”

The Autumns are Like The Prettiest Springs

How beautiful are the reds and oranges and yellows? The weather of summer but the colours of a New England fall. It was disorienting, and beautiful.

Buen Retiro Park

Words are not necessary. Just go.

Madrid surprised me pleasantly, like so many of the cities I visit by chance. Where I expected “fit for purpose” and a city that looked like London without all the things I liked about London – I got a city that charmed me in all the ways that London charms me, and in its own way too.

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