I believe we all have a perfect country match — a place where we feel a deep connection to the people, culture and vibe. Spain is that place for me. I have been in Madrid for the past 3 weeks now and am starting to think of this place as home.
I haven’t blogged much since I arrived in this capital city three weeks ago, because I lost my camera in Granada and don’t believe in posting without pictures. But I have been having the time of my life in the city and hope all visitors would have a similar experience.
One of my favorite things about Madrid is that all the young people are broke, but no one lets a lack of cash hold them back. All my friends here (most of whom I have met through my beloved Couch Surfing) make close to 1,000 Euros a month, which leaves little to play with after rent and bills. So about three times a week I go out with someone to check out a different free live music spot. Within a 10-minute stroll from the Puerta del Sol, the center of historic Madrid, we have our pick of live jazz, rock, flamenco or blues. Cafe Central consistently has the best nightly music but cover prices range from 12-14 euros, so I walk a couple meters down the street to hear the free stuff at Populart.
The bands are all some of the best I have ever seen and billowing smoke drifts around the suited up band members, and you often feel that you have gone back to the 40s and Hemingway could be just across the room, downing a whiskey (which he actually was doing in this area, about 70 years ago).
I usually loathe smokey bars — it just makes for a headache the next morning when you wake up and can hardly breathe because of he smell locked into your hair — but here it adds a romantic touch. On January 2, Madrid is doing the unthinkable for the Spanish — banning smoking in bars and restaurants (they chose the second because Madridians must celebrate the New Year with a cigarette on the 1st). I am actually glad I am here while smoke still fills the rooms. Being able to clearly see the stage just won’t feel authentic anymore.