Madrid: First impressions

I've never been to Spain, and for some reason the Spanish language baffles me. It's the least guessable European language, in my humble opinion, and I can't get my head (/tongue) around the pronunciation. I've never studied Spanish, but I can get by just fine with French and German, and when I've been in Switzerland, Holland and even Italy I could make a go of communicating to a reasonable degree, so I thought I'd pick it things up.

But apparently my brain is resistant to Spanish.

That aside, locals are very friendly and even when they don't speak English they don't seem to give you disparaging looks.

We arrived on Saturday evening (having successfully got our poster tube past various levels of EasyJet staff who would have been within their rights, if unreasonable, to tell us it was too big for hand luggage). We were met at the airport by new friends, who we later accompanied into the centre of the city to watch the Gay Pride Parade.

The streets were packed, the heat was stifling, and the costumes varied and outrageous. The party atmosphere filled the air with a tangible excitement. The parade itself was slow to start, but eventually lasted for several hours. We explored a little, taking in this version of the city as the empty streets of the Sunday morning to follow would have a very different feel.

But mostly we sat on the grass, chilling with our hosts and their friends, who were mixing cheap wine and lemonade and bobbing to the waves of techno, trance or cheesy pop that came by with every float.

The night was hot, but not unbearable; about 37 degrees, yet there was a slight breeze and no humidity which made all the difference.

On Sunday we braved the sun to do the tourist circuit recommended to us to take in as much of the city as possible in the time we had.

We deviated somewhat to explore various gardens (beautiful, although I was too distracted by the heat to really appreciate them) and pop into some impressive looking cathedrals (a nice break from the heat, but I find Christian art, architecture and interior decoration disturbingly morbid).

Never having thought about visiting Madrid before, and thus never having planned out what I might like to see when I got here, none of the monuments, buildings or squares stood out to me. Architecture is pale and old-looking, and mostly very ornate. Similarly pale sculptures, statues and fountains are in abundance.

Distinguishing vegetarian options in restaurants and cafes seemed more challenging than I had the energy for; not to mention, most didn't start serving food until at least one-thirty which wouldn't have allowed us time to catch our train, so I'm ashamed to say we grabbed snacks from a supermarket instead.

We (eventually) caught a train from Atocha station in the centre to Cercedilla (EUR 5.30). And thus began the Summer School adventure... Continued in another post.

🏷 festival gay pride madrid party spain summer too sodding hot travel

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