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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

El destino final...

Here we are for the third and last episode of the Spanish saga!

Dear my dearest ones, aren't you proud of me that this time I've made it with a new post just after a couple of weeks?
Well, before you just close down everything, I have to say that I'm asking you if you are proud of me because, deeply inside of me, I am myself!

Wait wait wait, this is not an explosion of self-confidence or snobism from me, but just the fact that even if I am working for an important fashion brand in Milan (I prefer not to reveal which one...) and I am going there everyday taking a two hours train and coming back at ridiculous times,
I've noticed that I'm still doing everything I would like to and writing in my baby blog is for sure one of these...

By the way, as I told you, today we move on with the Spanish saga which is coming to and end.
In fact after seeing the fascinations of Vizcaya, we left from Bilbao one early morning.
I had such a pain in my heart dear followers, and although it was due to various reasons, the biggest one was that I knew I was going to miss these places.
So that Chiara, my favourite travelling mate, and I went on to Madrid with not so much enthusiasm.

But do you know what they say...
If you expect too much, you are very likely to be deluded, while if you don't expect a lot you may get marvellous revelations.
Well, Madrid for me was the exact representation of this motto.

Maybe I've told you already about the sensations I've felt when I went to Dublin for the first time: I felt at home.
As Britney would say: Oops! I did it again...

Yes, totally!
In fact, since the very first moment we went out of the hotel (which was so nice and in the best position ever: Atocha), and we went to the amazing Park of Buen Retiro, where we got a little white boat and went paddling around the little lake in the middle of the park, I felt in heaven.

The sun was shining so brightly that for the first time I've seen another place but Italy where the light is actually able to disturb you for how bright it is.
The nature around us was glorious, accompanied by massive monuments.
People were walking, running, sitting in the grass or in the cafes inside of the park.
A guy with his guitar was playing beautiful songs under the shade of a tree.
It was just a miracle that place: a bubble of pleasure and tranquillity that made us forget about the city, even if it was still there, just outside the gates.

And close to these gates, a garden with small trees and paths which looked so much as an enchanted place and it reminded me a lot about the fantastic garden of Alice in Wonderland, or at least what I would have imagined it to be.

I'm telling you, I would love to just stay there for the rest of the holiday, but Madrid is absolutely not just about a park.
It's what could be defined as a cultural bomb ready to explore, or better, already exploded and which has spread pieces of it all over.
Because of that, everywhere you go in Madrid there is something to see, some museum to visit, an exposition to attend.
But also a concert, an event, a defile, a party and even more.
It's absolutely endless, and even if you would love to see everything, you are bound to make a choice.

What did I choose?
Well, let's say that I've made a WIDE choice, as I am an absolute freak of museums: I just love them! 
And even if all my friends mock me about that, trying to make me change my mind until they refuse to come inside a museum with me ever again, I just can't help it!

Because of that, we've been to the Prado, a classic,

but also to the Reina Sofia, where we've seen the amazing Guernica by Picasso (I swear to you, I've spent at least 15 minutes in front of it...) and where the air conditioning has almost frozen us.
And then to the Caixaforum, where I've felt so lucky because we've been there while they were exposing some paintings of Blake, the English Romantic poet and artist, and prints by Piranesi: my fellow citizen and famous architect who had the biggest love for ancient architecture.

This is not all! (I told you I am a freak...)
We've also visited the amazing Thyssen B., which I absolutely loved, with a great mixture of modern art and classical painters, the Museo Publico, such an interesting thing as it's an open air exposition of sculptures some of which are made by artist such as Miro' or the surrealists, in the middle of a square in the quarter of Salamanca, which is so beautiful as well and full of nice shops.

We've also been to the Palacio Real,

 and to the botanic gardens, but do you want to know what is the craziest things about all this?

Ok, let's recap first: we've visited four museums among the most important ones not only in Europe but in the entire world, an amazing and perfectly preserved Real Palace and huge botanic gardens which are hosting plants from all over the world.
At this point you all must be thinking: Carlotta, you are a real freak.
This is the point: the total expense for that have been the 5 euros to enter the real palace, which was also a reduced fare.

That's is?
Oh yes! That's it! 
How is it possible?
Am I joking?
No, c'mon, I am not so cruel!

And to demonstrate you how much I love you, I will share with you the secret which has allowed me to visit everything for free in Madrid.
First of all, there is a magical word you have to say, which is: STUDENT.
There is also a magical tool you should always bring with you.
Nope, it's not s sword I am very sorry, it's your STUDENT CARD.
If you have these two things, Madrid is open for you, and trust me when I tell you that it's so worth to use them.

That's what shocked me the most about this city: not only the fact that it has so much to offer, but the sensation you have as a tourist, as a student, as a young person, as an art lover, that everything is really there for you, and the most you see the better it is!
So if you go to Madrid, and you really should, be ready to a complete different reality from, for example, London, where life and everything are so expensive that sometimes you risk to feel like this:

(totally depressed Sponge Bob)

more than on holiday, which is a paradox, as you go on holiday to enjoy it and not to count every singe penny in your pocket money to make it until the end of the day.

In Madrid you can find everything: you can make a very expensive life, but also a moderate one, and still enjoy everything it has to offer, starting from the amazing shops to the lovely bars where the Madrilenos meet since the late evening until deep night to chat, smoke, drink, eat, and chat again, maybe listening to some good music or dancing salsa if it's a Cuban place, for example.

I've felt so great there, as the Mediterrean atmosphere is combined to the feeling of curiosity and excitement you usually have in a big city.
The food is great, the people are great, the weather is great, and most of the things you see around you are incredibly beautiful, thanks to that massive architecture which is not massive in the same way of a Nordic place.
Edinburgh for example is massive as well, but it also gives you that sense of melancholy, of solitude, of coldness which is so not Madrid as everything there is warm in the typical Mediterranean way.

Another thing that I've absolutely loved has been the day we've spent going around the Rastro, the very typical market which takes place every Sunday in the quarter of Atocha, and were you would find pretty much every kind of person and every kind of thing as well.
From musicians to painters, to leather workers, to jewels makers and more...

Also the streets around the market are full of very interesting shops, and even if I have to admit I was not very rapt by the one which was selling animal cages (with no animals inside at all...) at the same time, who knew that Chinese furnishings could be so beautiful and cool?

I used to love markets a lot, because I think that they are often able to portray the real soul of the place they take place in.
The Rastro was for sure one of the most beautiful I've ever seen, and it really represents the heart of Madrid: a place where you can't help but feel happy for everything you see, hear, smell, eat, feel...
A city whose strong personality is able to talk to you, like some other magical places in the world are able to, and to tell you something special, something like a secret about it, a spell that it's going to be your duty to keep.

Or maybe it is going to ask you to come back, to spend more time there.

I don't know if Madrid is going to be my next destination, but now that I've heard that secret, 
now that it has asked me to come again, I cannot avoid but listen to it.
And deeply inside of myself I know I am going to end up there, someday.


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