Of all the airports in all the world, the one that feels most like home to me is the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain. I have flown through that airport more than any other, and I’ve had a grand total of more than 24 hours of layovers there. I can tell you where you can find the cleanest bathrooms, the coldest drinking fountain, and the screen they update first with departure information. I know so much about Madrid’s airport, but for the longest time, I knew absolutely nothing about Madrid. I had passed through the city countless number of times with my friends, but we had never actually ventured outside the Barajas airport. A few weeks ago, we felt that it was high time for that to change.
Our university had a weekend long break at the end of April, so we decided to book a hostel and make ourselves at home in the city that never sleeps (at least not before, like, 3 am because it’s Spain and there’s way too much to do). We only had four days to explore Madrid, and we wanted to see as much as we could. Our daily journeys took us everywhere from a huge Spanish palace full of rooms adorned with the finest silk and porcelain, to the local Primark, where I found a pair of sunglasses for only €1.50 to replace the ones I had forgotten behind in Oviedo. Needless to say, we did it all.
We walked the main boulevards and parks that were absolutely full of Spaniards enjoying the weekend and the warm weather. We marveled at the treasures of the Prado museum and the Reina Sofia, and saw in person the works of art that we’d been studying in class for months. We even navigated our way through the huge Sunday street market, a place where you buy a bouquet of flowers, something to snack on, and a new pair of boxers, all in a row. By the end of the trip, we truly got to discover the city. The sun and our spirit of adventure led us to walk all over, bypassing the metro in favor of exploring everything on foot (by far my favorite way of exploring a new place). Madrid – with its architecture, gardens, and monuments – is an absolutely beautiful city, and I’m so happy we finally had the chance to see it. As much as Barajas airport will always hold a special place in my heart, I now think about incredible memories of an amazing trip – instead of a long layover – when I hear the word “Madrid”. And I must admit – that is a relief.
Until next time,