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venerdì 24 gennaio 2014

Unconventional Iberia

I have been to Madrid a couple of times and always liked it although I prefer (or at least I think I do : now Madrid natives are going to hate me deeply) Barcelona. Having said that I haven't been to Barcelona in over ten years so I guess I can't be really objective. I was in Madrid recently and liked it as usual although this time it was different. I was visiting and my guide made me discover places unknown and very pleasant. Mind you this is not going to be a post about Prado, Reina Sofia or all that . Not at all. Just a few little discoveries I made in this beautiful city. When I think of Madrid the first word that comes to my mind is "maestosa". In English it would be translated as majestic but in Italian I think it gives a better idea. I was very lucky with the weather notwithstanding the fact that it was already winter: clear blue skies, warm sun and beautiful light. I had my stroll in the center, where apart from the beautiful sites and monuments I saw the signs of the crisis we are also experiencing big time here in Italy since a couple of years ago. The difference is that at least they had the Indignados whereas in this country nobody apparently gets angry enough to do something consistent about it. Everybody says it will pass by itself probably this year but is it really true? I guess we will find out soon. Apart from that I enjoyed very much walking in Plaza Mayor seeing the policemen with their horses, one of which was the object of attention of a beige labrador who wanted to make friends with him, and around the little calles. My friend took me for dinner at La cocina de San Anton areally nice restaurant situated in a market open during the day and partly at night. I am sure that in the summer with the open terrace it will be even more pleasant but it was pleasant enough during winter. The day after we walked for miles over the Rio Manzanares taking advantage of the beautiful weather and came across a the beautiful Arganzuela bridge, which wasn't there or at least I don't think it was last time I was in Madrid which was about ten years ago when I went for a hen night or Espedita de soltera as they say in Spanish for a a friend of mine who although Italian has lived in Spain and loves it. I have a lot of memories from that trip especially of the late nights and the splurging. The time before that instead I had been there for New Year's Eve and as apparently all the tourists do my friends and I went to Plaza del Sol and waited for midnight with a bottle of Cava and 12 grapes for the 12 beats of the clock. The grapes you have to eat at every beat which makes it impossibile to swallow it altogether. So one of my friends and I kneeled on the floor since all the corks from thousands of bottles were being popped and managed to eat the 12 grapes although we looked like squirrels with a mouth full of hazelnuts. At the end of the walk my friend took me to a very interesting place which was formely a slaughterhouse called Matadero, a huge space which has recently become a recreative center with a bar and a theatre and places for exhibitions. As disturbing as the name could sound since it makes come to mind the activities carried out in that place it is absolutely a place to go to. I loved it and if in Madrid I will surely go again. In the evening my friend took me to an excellent restaurant El Pescador, lovely place and great food. The next day, always thanks to my friend, I managed to finally see Toledo a town an hour away from Madrid which I have never managed to see the other times I have been there. Well that's also a place to which the word maestoso could easily apply. But most of all what was really nice about it was the mixture between churches and synagogues which find its reasons in the religious tolerance the town had centuries ago. It was a really lovely feeling walking in its narrow streets and admiring the quiet corners of this beautiful place. Churches, synagogues, convents, little resturants and a breathtaking view. The one in the picture was taken from a Parador, of the chain Paradores of Spain (hotels) just outside the town. For reference please check out Wikipedia page about Toledo. Maestoso right? Well what else can I say? That weekend has been important for me for various reasons and I guess it made me discover other parts of this majestic city and also beautiful Toledo. Next time Her majesty I will render more hommage to your regal self . For now I will only get this small post of admiration which I hope is enough for the time being. Hasta pronto!