Featured Writer: Nicole L Betts
Sometimes you have a crappy couple of days, thankfully then, there is Madrid. What a city! So alive and brimming with activity, and much to my delight the sun beamed from a bright beryl sky soaking into the crisp wintry air.
It was the fourth day since completing my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago and my body was almost feeling anew again, except for my knee which I seemed to have royally screwed through my no holds barred, I can do anything inclination. Regardless, the sun beaming down overwhelmed me with a fervour to explore the city. Every Sunday in Madrid is El Rastro, an open air flea market that fills the streets of La Latina, overflowing with handmade trinkets, clothing, antiques and various oddments. I wandered through the stalls for hours diligently avoiding the pickpockets while selecting only the most unique pieces from the plentiful bounty of flummery and stopping only momentarily to pillage a few banderillas.
As the market, vendors began to pack away their wares the masses of patrons cascaded into the legion of nearby Tapas Bars and I followed suit. After pausing to decipher the offerings I crammed myself and my purchases into a slither of bar space and ordered a serving of Chiperones which came with two cañas; two glasses of beer, all for the bargain price of €4.99. Madrid and I were going to be very happy together!
My convivial disposition continued to surge (with no help from the cañas!) and the sunshine continued to radiate across the city as I took to the streets, drifting though the beautiful plazas, admiring the mishmash of historic and modern architecture and stumbling upon the Mercado de San Miguel, a wonderful haven of pinxtos, wine, seafood and sweets which would satisfy the most disconcerting of taste-buds. I was genuinely annoyed I had already eaten and settled on purchasing a large, perfectly round gleaming orange to save for later.
Taking to the streets again, dawdling, I lazily sought out the green domains of the vast Parque de el Retiro, lingering on a bench to read a little, contented in the simplicity of greenery and afternoon sunshine. With not much of the day remaining I wandered towards Palacio Real, I passed an elderly couple hurrying along and the old man looked me dead in the eye and bedazzled me with a radiant toothy smile which only fused my sense of beatitude. I continued across the city but found myself distracted by a small square of rockery gardens which overlooked a park and playground below, Madridians were perched in clusters on benches and ledges enjoying the last hours of their weekend. I joined them, positioning myself, legs dangling.
As I soaked up the last rays of sunshine I pulled the orange from my bag and proceeded to slowly peel it, tediously and carefully removing all of the white parts as the juice dribbled all over my hands, reconciled in the solace of the present and the joy of oranges.
Read more about my vagabond existence at www.nicolebetts.wordpress.com