“Fine, I won’t shave my legs,” I finally decided before putting shorts on. Yuli and I were comparing leg hair length, and what was worth a shave, while I exercised in my bedroom, wearing a bikini, and she studied in the living room, still in her pj’s. We had sunbathing plans for the weekend. Side-note: I recently moved from Alcobendas to Madrid’s center, and it has been an upgrade in more ways than one. I am living in a beautiful, spacious piso (Spain’s word for flat) walking distance from the Royal Palace, and famous Calle Princesa. I live with 3 Spanish girls, all in their 20’s. My room has a big window, and pretty blue walls. Needless to say, I feel like a queen living in a sitcom.
I was having a holiday-post-card weekend with my flat-mates! On Saturday, Sonia (one of the Spaniards I live with), her friend Gloria, my friend Kristen, and I went on a breathtaking hike in Bustarviejo. This has been one of my favorite hiking locations in the outskirts of Madrid because the scenery changed so much. It was the hottest day so far, and I gladly applied sunscreen that made my normally cinnamon skin look milky white. Spending the day in nature recharges all my city-spent energy, and makes me feel like I accomplished something…Even if I only spent the day walking through a rocky, flowered path under the sun. A hiking day is never a wasted day. Though the last two hours were quite miserable. Putting one foot in front of the other, I focused on moving forward. Step, step, water, step, step, water. The heat is dry, and makes your skin feel like it’s being fried on a pan. My feet hurt like crazy, but I knew the end was near…And the end of a hike always brings French fries and beer.
On Sunday we went to El Rastro: a popular Madrid street market in La Latina. It is the thing to do on Sundays in Madrid, but I had managed to never go in the 8 months since I moved here. I did not find it to be particularly cheap, so it is not the prices that make it worth shopping here. It is more about the experience of a giant market, in the streets of this famous tapas barrio, under the Spanish sunshine, and the variety of booths selling hipster clothes, décor, appliances, and jewelry. I went with a 20€ budget, and spent 32€. I’ve never been good at math!
Coming home from El Rastro we split off to do our girly things, which is why, I am sure, we ended up discussing the length of our leg hair. After hours of laughter in our majestic flat, we grabbed our sunglasses and headed to Temple of Debod (also walking distance from our home). We wore our bikinis on the grass, and drank beer, while doing our nails, braiding our hair, and reading. Drinking beer outside is such a popular past-time in Madrid. But no, it is not legal! That does not explain why there are Chinese people walking the streets, selling beer for 1€ from a non-discrete plastic bag. They are everywhere, and they also sell water. Something that amazes me is that the beer is always super cold! How they keep it that way, I know not. It’s the mystery of the Chinese selling beer in Madrid. You naturally see the police driving slowly past us, looking for something to do, but as long as your behavior doesn’t suggest you’re drinking beer, you’re safe. To be honest, people do not even try to hide their empty cans, so I am not sure how the law works exactly.
The following weekend was not so sunny and bright, but that does not mean you have an excuse to stay home all day! Madrid always has something to give, and I often find myself torn by all the options. On this particular, rainy Saturday, I was not in the mood for socializing, and felt quite tired from a busy eventful week at work. Though I spent most of that day on the couch, watching Netflix, I did make time to visit a museum that was on top of my list for some time: Museo Sorolla near the Gegorio Marañon metro stop on lines 7 and 10. We had studied Joaquín Sorolla in 3rd grade art class a few weeks prior, and I instantly fell in love with his work. He was born in Valencia, on February 27th, 1863. Many of his paintings are set of the beach, and they often include the kind of nudity that makes you feel all the freedom in the world. The ocean looks alive, and you can almost feel the sunshine on your shoulders. The Sorolla Museum used to be his house, which is now covered by his paintings. It’s got a beautiful garden, and the atmosphere is as light as a dress in the breeze. Small museums such as this have always appealed to me for their conciseness and charm, a less is more perspective. I went alone. I felt refreshed, and cultured. It was my perfect Saturday get-away/recovery activity.
Sunday was another gray day, and we headed to the Lost & Found market in Malasaña for a relaxing early afternoon. The Lost & Found market is also in Barcelona, and it is much, much less frequent than the weekly Rastro. The fact that it is in the Malasaña neighborhood makes it way more hipster, if that means anything to you. It is exclusively vintage, and second-hand. This time, I managed to do good math. I had a 10€ budget, and spent 3€. Perhaps because El Rastro taught me a thing or two about self control.
They were simple, uncomplicated weekends. One weekend was full of laughter, beer, and sunshine, while the other was a rainy, coffee filled, indoor quiet weekend. Madrid has a generous way of adapting to your mood, and giving you everything you need. Madrid has a way of molding, changing, and letting you be. Every weekend I go nuts with choices, and ideas…And in the end, every weekend is exactly what I wanted it to be.