Happy Goes Lucky… en Espana I

04Sep11

“You look happy”, said the librarian to me as I was returning back a borrowed travel book.

“Yes, I am… very”, was my loud and clear response with a huge grin on the face. I was glowing with excitement because in several hours I would be on the way to one of my favourite destinations – Spain.

Plaza del Sol, Madrid

To some, this trip came as a surprise. Yet to the other ones, who know that I calculate each step of my life carefully, this journey seemed planned well in advance. Was the trip necessary at this stage of my life? No. However, for over a year, my best friend and I had been planning this trip. As the summer of 2011 was approaching, two more friends committed to it, making the trip that much more exciting.

Spain is the country where I’ve had some of the best memories of my life. Therefore, F.P., M.R. and I decided to commemorate a beginning of our 30s in the most memorable way, by going away together and living it up to the fullest!

Roman Aqueduct, Segovia

The journey began on the quiet note by visiting Madrid, Segovia and Avila, giving my friends more sense of what Spain was really all about.
The intact, mesmerizing aqueduct of Segovia took us back to the Roman times; the walks on medieval walls of fortified Avila gave us incredible views of hot, arid Spain; and the largest royal palace in the Western Europe, along with the Prado Museum, presented to us Madrid at it’s finest in the Baroque and Neoclassical times. We walked and explored two millennia of the country in four days.

Medieval Walls and Cathedral, Avila

As for Madrid, nothing seemed to have changed since my last visit. The capital had remained the same – regal, resilient, conservative and truly Castilian. To get away by knowing only English was very difficult for my friends. To find great places to eat, one had to look for venues where no English could be heard. After several disappointing dinners, we finally came across a little restaurant in La Latina neighbourhood, called Juana La Loca. What really was loca in this instance were the tapas which drove us insane. At one o’clock in the morning we kept ordering more and more plates. Tortilla con patatas (Spanish omelette with potatoes) with subtle sweetness coming from caramelized onions set the standard for all other tortillas that we have eaten. With the dinner at Juana La Loca we finally experienced Spanish cuisine I had been searching for.

Tapas at Juana La Loca Restaurant, Madrid

It’s been said that “God worked six days and rested on the seventh: Madrileños rest the six and on the seventh… go to the bullfight”. The truth isn’t far from it. Madrileños, the residents of Madrid, party until early morning hours regardless of the day of week, and they seem to rest only on Sundays and during the mandatory siesta. New York City might be called the City That Never Sleeps, but the true sleepless one is Madrid. The city centre stayed as vibrant at 4am as much as it did at 4pm. On one side of Gran Via, there were clubbers lined up in front of discos, and on another side, close to Puerta del Sol, political organizations set up sleep-overs on the public square, protesting against the government and current socio-economic instability. We quickly accustomed to the Spanish cultural lifestyle, and although we didn’t go clubbing, we ended up going to bed each night after 4am. What we were really doing (or were we?!?!), was saving our energy for what was coming up on the remaining trip.

Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, Madrid

To be continued…

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