spainwatch

Spain through the looking glass

Madrileño by stealth

with 3 comments

For the last couple of weeks, I have waking up in Seville on Monday and getting on a train to another country called Spain. Or at least that’s how it feels.

After a period living in the capital of Andalusia, I now find myself commuting to Madrid for work. At the moment, I am in the national capital from Monday to Friday but soon my transition will be complete and I am even to become a citizen of this fine communidad.

Image

Madrid at dusk. Photo: Moyan Brenn

To be frank, it’s all quite disorienting. After last year’s sojourn in Saigon, I’ve been enjoying the relative intimacy of a city with just 700,000 souls, give or take a few. In Seville you get to know lots of faces, and can amble from one end of the old town to the other in a pleasant hour or so. In Madrid, by contrast, my fold-out map comes with more creases than a tramp’s spare pants. The sheer number of neighbourhoods here is staggering. Will I ever know my Chamberis from my Chuecas or my Legazpis from my Listas? It seems highly unlikely.

Anyway, last Friday evening, I caught the fast train back from Madrid and stumbled out of Seville’s Santa Justa station a little after midnight. Home. The city smelled of olives and a vacant lot was flush with flowers.  I thought: I will miss this place.

But the capital does have its virtues and delights. One advantage to being here in the centre of Spain – here in this city on the River Manzanares – is that they speak Spanish, rather than the language approximating Spanish which I have become accustomed to in Andalusia. I no longer feel quite so foolish with my highly correct Castillian.

I’m enjoying, too, the boulevards of Madrid, and the gentle slopes, for Madrid is a metropolis of inclines and slides. It’s an elegant old beast as well. On Gran Vía, there are shades of London’s Pall Mall while the residences around the Retiro are as slim-hipped and stylish as any Parisian apartment block. Then there are the armies of mincing long-legged women and – in winter – dark-coated old men who might be taking a break from the set of a fifties film.

But —but — will I ever feel at home here? Train rides have become such a metaphor for my life: all these cities as stations, apartments like luggage offices, a constant swapping of keys and letterboxes and corner stores and then a quick look over the shoulder as the place recedes. Next stop, señores pasajeros, Madrid.

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Written by georgemills25

February 21, 2013 at 21:29

3 Responses

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  1. Good luck with your move! The AVE ride from Sevilla to Madrid is really pretty late at night or early in the morning.

    Jessica of HolaYessica

    February 21, 2013 at 23:07

    • Thanks. Yep. I’m really enjoying the train rides – at least I am when I’m not so exhausted that I sleep through all the amazing scenery. The countryside just east and north of Cordoba is my favourite bit.

      georgemills25

      February 22, 2013 at 00:39

  2. Best of luck in Madrid. I’m only just starting to know Sevilla. I imagine there’ll be details I’ll miss when I come to leave, whenever that will be… To the big city lights with you! And yes, properly-enunciated words…

    shionamachinery

    March 26, 2013 at 00:39


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