Remember Benedetti’s words, child: “Don’t believe what they tell you about the world (not even what I’m telling you), I’ve already told you that the world can’t be narrated”. These were some of the last words my grandmother said to me, before she left on her final, great voyage, that took her from me, but at the same time left her permanently in my heart, where I would hold her for the rest of my days.
After a long period of mourning I decided to honour the joyfulness and intensity with which she’d lived her life, as if each moment she’d spent with us had been her very last. So, plucking up courage, I took the most difficult step of any trip: to sit down at the computer and actually make the reservations for the flight and the hotel. There it was, done! My boyfriend and I were off to Madrid, and the best thing was he still had no idea!
Excited, I started to pack my suitcase, and without going into any more details, we were soon there, in the great city, the city my grandmother had told me about so many times and where she’d had such wonderful times when she was young. There were no end to her stories about the place… can you imagine, an actress and a dancer in the 30s! A woman with several lifetimes’ worth of experience, having chosen one of the hardest professions during those difficult times.
When I came out of the Metro, in the middle of the Plaza de Callao, I couldn’t help myself: I dropped my suitcase on the ground and twirled round, 360 degrees, looking up at the sky. “That’s how you look at this city”, my grandmother always said to me, “you have to look at the roofs and the tops of the building”. And that’s when I saw the view, that view I’d seen so many times before, on the television and in films. The huge neon Schweppes advert on the side of the hotel Vincci Capitol! I looked at my boyfriend, who gave me a huge smile and said, “shall we go?”
Running, I grabbed my suitcase and we went into what would be our base camp for the expedition, it was incredible. Without doubt, it was the place. And when we went into the bedroom… wow! “An incredibly comfortable bed, pillows to dream about, a designer bathroom and an open-air terrace with views made for a romantic breakfast (@yessjim)”
Exhausted, we collapsed on the huge bed, and fell into a tight embrace, laughing gleefully about the adventures that were waiting for us. It had been a long while since I’d seen him so happy; he was always so stressed by work. As we joked and laughed he shouted: “It’s summertime!”
And the wise voice in my head said: “Summer is when your greatest worry is not having to worry about anything (@josematherry)”. My grandmother was one in a million!
I jumped out of bed and got going, I’d been exhausted from the journey, but that was enough rest! I couldn’t wait to fulfil another of my dreams, “having breakfast while looking out over the city, before going out to enjoy the streets (@Mispapelicos)”.
So like a Lord and Lady we asked for breakfast to be brought to our room and enjoyed it with the privileged scene of Madrid’s Gran Vía as the backdrop. The place where anything is possible, the avenue where someone famous is always passing by, Spain’s Broadway, avant-garde’s main thoroughfare.
What a pleasure it is “to visit somewhere you’ve never been and enjoy the customs of the place. And it’s even better if there’s a beach J @SaraRavasi”. I’d never have thought it, but Madrid too has a beach!
So the first place we visited was what’s known as the capital’s urban beach, Madrid Río. It was pretty hot and we’d been told that there you could cool off with the jets of water that come up through the ground. It was just about perfect after the bike ride we did up the Manzanares River from Príncipe Pío. What wonderful views! The Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, the dome of the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande!
After an enjoyable time playing in the jets of water, we were soon hot again, so we decided to try a different way of cooling ourselves down, with a refreshing drink. A mojito? No… “the mojito is too commonplace, [try] an iced San Francisco cocktail instead… in this heat it’s tempting, no?? @Cocobarcelona)
On our way back we dropped the bikes off in Príncipe Pío and decided to go for something to eat on Gran Vía, and of course we couldn’t avoid some shopping too. There are thousands of shops, with the latest fashions on offer on every corner. We went back to the hotel, and in reception a delightful young lady invited us to a party to watch the sunset from the out-door terrace of the hotel Vincci Vía 66, located on the same street, just a little bit further down from were we were staying. She said the terrace was very beautiful and it was worth it to look out over the city from up there. We accepted of course!
To get ready for the night ahead, we decided to enjoy a good siesta; on waking up we had a stupendous shower in the cinematic bath and got going again… But this time “with Russian Red on my lips, ready for cocktails on one of the best terraces in the city while watching the sunset (@Lady_Piz)”. Could there be a better plan? No!
Before we went to the party, we went for a wander round the centre and decided to “forget about everything over a fabulous ‘pizza with gin and tonic’ for dinner (@ElenaCarnazo)”
It was 9.30, we were walking along Gran Vía, illuminated by the last rays of the sun and the lights of the posters for the musicals and theatres that fill this special street with life, entertainment and culture. Upon entering the hotel an incredible marble spiral staircase was waiting for us to ascend. Then my eyes lit up and I stopped breathing for a second… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The staircase was watched over by around 30 huge photographs of actresses from the 20s. “They say that life isn’t the good or bad times, but the moments that take your breath away”, my grandmother had often said to me. Well this was one of them.
* Hotel in Madrid Vincci Vía66 4*
The excitement continued when we walked out onto the hotel’s spectacular terrace. I’d never been anywhere like that, the light, the music, but above all… “that smell you remember in the winter days, that soft, breezy, carefree moment (@nito_ad)” just before the sun sets.
* Hotel in Madrid Vincci Vía 66 4*.
The sky began to change colour, filling with yellows, reds, oranges and violet tones. I’d never seen so many colours above my head. Of course… the famous skies of Velázquez. And then it happened, the music of an “acoustic jam session which slowly got the whole terrace singing and dancing @nito_ad”.
Everything began to spin, a multitude of musical notes in cartoon form surrounded me, coloured feathers rained down on me from the heavens, confetti, an immense ballet dancing to the rhythm of the music…
-What’s up? Mum…?
-You fell asleep….
-So I did…. Mum, have you ever been in Madrid?
(My mother smiled)
-Yes…many years ago.
-¿What’s it like?
-It’s an amazing city. But, child, you know what your grandmother said: “Don’t believe what they tell you about the world (not even what I’m telling you), I’ve already told you that the world can’t be narrated”.
I got up slowly… I sat down at the computer and that’s when I did it, I took the most difficult step on any great journey…