Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Madrid in mid-October.

The first thing I notice is not the landscape or the architecture. The first thing I notice is that I’m shivering.

I’ve not spent much time in Europe during autumn and winter in recent years, and I think my blood must have thinned. It can’t be that I’m getting older; that just can’t be the explanation.

However, like all of life’s drawbacks, cold weather has its consolations. In this case, the consolation comes in the form of women’s boots. Having spent almost five years seeing females clad almost exclusively in flip-flops, the sight of fashionable ladies in black knee-length boots evokes feelings not unlike those of listening to the music that so enthralled me as a teenager.

I digress.

Old and Impressive
Despite the Euro crisis and Spain’s unenviable position at the cliff edge of socio-economic disaster, Madrid still feels (at least to the short-term visitor) like a city that’s still got it. And by it, I mean style. By the bucketload. The city yet throngs with fashionistas, the buildings – old or modern – still look cool – and the parks remain immaculately groomed. The ambience of good food and expensive wine and the tactile atmosphere of the pavement cafes feel intact.

I have recently read alarmist reports on the internet of rising crime in the Spanish capital. I can’t say I felt particularly threatened or apprehensive during my time there. No more so than anytime I’m in any large Western city, anyway.

Modern and Surreal
Although Madrid is a major city it is also, in some ways, a small one. It is entirely feasible to walk to many of its major attractions without the need to resort to expensive taxis. So grab yourself a tourist map and see the magnificence of the Royal Palace, the Sabatini Gardens and the bustling Plaza de Cibeles overlooked by the colossal Palacio de Comunicaciones (Communications Palace). Take in the enormous Puerta de Alcalá, an ancient city gateway sculpted from granite. And of course you must catch the Prado Museum and the botanical gardens next door.

Just don’t catch what I did.

A cold.

If you’re going this time of the year, wrap up warm. And ladies, wear boots. If you don’t mind.


  1. It sounds lovely. I've never been to Europe. Maybe someday...

  2. Thanks for your comment Angela. Madrid is a beautiful place - I hope you do get to visit Europe soon (while it's still here ...) - as there are some great cities to see. I'll be writing about London shortly (I'm there now), so I'll try to give you a flavour of that capital too.
    Are you in the States currently?